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John George Children

(1777-1852), Chemist, mineralogist and natural scientist; only son of George Children

Sitter in 1 portrait
The son of the banker George Children. A keen amateur scientist, he created a laboratory at his parental home, Ferox Hall, with the support of his father. Children constructed a large voltaic battery to test the use of electricity in chemical analysis. This work brought him into contact with the foremost scientists of the day, especially Humphry Davy, who conducted many experiments at Ferox Hall between 1808 and 1812. Children was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1807. His father's bankruptcy in 1816 forced Children to find employment. He became assistant librarian in the department of antiquities of the British Museum, and remained at the museum until his retirement in 1840.

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John George Children, by Benjamin Rawlinson Faulkner - NPG 5151

John George Children

by Benjamin Rawlinson Faulkner
oil on canvas, 1826
NPG 5151

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Fiona Robinson

13 April 2017, 04:25

John George Children was the father of Anna Atkins, the creator of the world's first book of photographs in 1843. The book was entitled Cyanotypes of British Algae. Few copies remain, though several important institutions hold it: The Royal Society, Kew Gardens, the New York Public Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art NY, for example. The Getty Museum also holds some of her cyanotypes of ferns and flowers.

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