born in 1765 and educated at Oxford, studied chemistry and mineralogy and became a notable amateur scientist. He chemically analyzed minerals and plants, and was the first to distinguish between zinc carbonate and zinc silicate, both then called calamine. Since 1832, zinc carbonate has been known as smithsonite. In 1787, only a year out of college, he was elected to the Royal Society of London "for Improving Natural Knowledge."
In later years, James Smithson's will left his fortune to his nephew, but
If the nephew died childless, the fortune would go toward "an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men." Not in England. Not at all. Smithson was not about to do that. The money was to go to the United States of America. The eventual result was the Smithsonian Institution.
What was Smithson's connection with Syon House
?Quotes are from the Smithsonian magazine.