Georgian Society for East Yorkshire

250 Years Ago: James Smithson

James Smithson

James Smithson

Wednesday, 1st January 2014

About 250 years ago James Smithson, illegitimate son of the 1st Duke of Northumberland, was born in Paris. He studied mineralogy at Oxford and travelled throughout Europe. He died in 1829 in Genoa. In his will he stated: "I then bequeath the whole of my property, . . . to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men." His estate of over $500,000 was transferred to the United States in 1835 and the Smithsonian was instituted in 1847.

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