, M. D. a gentleman of Welch extraction, was born at Shiffnall in Shropshire,
, M. D. a gentleman of Welch extraction, was born at Shiffnall in Shropshire, April 15,1760, where he received the first rudiments of his education, but was soon removed to the school of Brewood in Staffordshire. He very early displayed a thirst for knowledge, and, as is frequently the case, appears to have been determined rather by accident than design to that pursuit in which he was afterwards most distinguished. From Brewood he was removed to the grammar-school at Bridgenorth, which he quitted at the age of thirteen. His manners and habits at school were particular, but study and the desire of knowledge were predominant. He seemed early to give way to deep thought and reflection; and this, added to a natural shyness of disposition, gave him an air of reserve, which distinguished him from his young associates. In May 1773, he was placed under the tuition of the Rev. Sam. Dickenson, rector of Blym-hill in Staffordshire, who supplied his biographer with some particulars of his character highly creditable to him. In 1776 he was entered of Pembroke college, Oxford, where he applied himself with remarkable industry and diligence to the study of modern languages, chemistry, mineralogy, and botany. In 1781, he visited the metropolis, and studied anatomy; and in the course of these studies he undertook to translate the works of Spallanzani, which appeared in 1784. It is also thought that he supplied the notes to Dr. Cullen’s edition of Bergman’s Physical and Chemical Essays. In 1783, he took the degree of M. A. and the following year went to Edinburgh, where he distinguished himself, not only as a member, but for some time as president of the royal medical and natural history societies. In 1786 he returned to Oxford, and took his doctor’s degree; and the same year he visited the continent, on his return from which he was appointed to the chemical lectureship at Oxford, in which situation he distinguished hiuisrlf much, and was generally attended by a numerous auditory. Mineralogy at this time appears to have occupied much of his attention: his theory of the earth being, according to his biographer, conformable to that of Hutton; but at this time he was rather hasty in his conclusions, and would frequently acknowledge that he had been misled in the judgment he had formed of certain, ibssus, especially in regard to the operations of fire. Of this a singular instance has been given. A gentleman had Jbr ught to Oxford, from the summit of one of the mountains surrounding Coniston lake in Lancashire, some specimens which had evidently undergone the operation of fire, but which happened to abound near a hollow on the top of the mountain, which some Italian gentlemen had not long before pronounced to be the crater of an extinct volcano. Upon shewing them to Dr. Beddoes, he was so persuaded of the fact, that he even summoned a particular assembly of the members of ]the university by an extraordinary notice, before whom he delivered a long lecture on the specimens supplied, as indicative of the natural operations of fire in those parts of England. A very short time after, he declared that they were evidently nothing better than mere slags from some old furnace, and that he had since discovered a criterion by which he could distinguish between the productions of natural and artificial fire; but this discovery, and the consequent change of his sentiments, he could not be prevailed on to announce as publicly as he had delivered his former opinions.