By Tim Lambert

John Dalton was a great scientist of the early 19th century. He is famous for his theory of atoms. Dalton was born on 6 September 1766 in Eaglesfield, Cumbria, England. His father, Joseph Dalton was a weaver. His mother was called Deborah and the couple had 4 children. John received an elementary education at a Quaker school but he was mainly self taught. When he was only 10 Dalton entered the service of a Quaker called Elihu Robinson. But when he was just 12 Dalton set up his own school. However his school failed. Dalton then joined his brother Jonathan as an assistant at a school in Kendal. Meanwhile Dalton had a passion for science and he studied the subject enthusiastically. Then in 1793 Dalton was offered a position as professor of mathematics and philosophy at Manchester Academy. The same year, 1793 he published his first work, Meteorological Reflections And Essays.

Dalton joined the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. In 1794 he read them a paper on colour blindness, which for a long time was called Daltonism after him. However by 1800 the academy was in financial trouble. Dalton left and began earning a living as a private tutor in mathematics and science. Meanwhile he investigated gases and in 1803 he published his law of partial pressures. Then, in 1808 Dalton published his great work A New System of Chemical Philosophy in which he stated his atomic theory.

In 1832 Dalton was granted an honorary degree by Oxford University. Then in 1833 he was granted a pension from the British government. At first it was a modest amount (150 a year) but it was doubled to 300 in 1836. John Dalton died on 27 July 1844. He was buried in Ardwick cemetery in Manchester.

A short biography of Isaac Newton

A short biography of Robert Boyle

A short biography of Henry Cavendish

A short biography of Charles Darwin

A history of Science