William Gregor

William Gregor

William Gregor (25 December 1761 – 11 June 1817) was the British clergyman and mineralogist who discovered the elemental metal titanium.


Early years

He was born in Trewarthenick, Cornwall, the son of Francis Gregor and Mary Copley and the brother of Francis Gregor, MP for Cornwall [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YdIKAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA504&lpg=PA504&dq=%22Francis+Gregor%22+mp&source=web&ots=qCtpi_fb9I&sig=uKpZEUI0JLuRZsKACBD5mWN2zok&hl=en Burke's "Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry 1847". on Googlebooks, (Accessed 20 March 2008)] ] . He was educated at Bristol Grammar School, where he became interested in chemistry, then after two years with a private tutor entered St John's College, Cambridge from where he graduated BA in 1784 [He also received a MA in 1787 Source: "The Times", Monday, Jun 18, 1787; pg. 3; Issue 776; col C ] . He proceeded to the MA and was ordained in the Church of England. He became vicar of St Mary's Church Diptford [ [http://genuki.cs.ncl.ac.uk/DEV/Diptford/ Diptford on Genuki website] and [http://www.devon.gov.uk/localstudies/110250/1.html Devon Libraries Local History page on Diptford] (no mention of Gregor)] ] near Totnes Devon. He married Charlotte Anne Gwatkin in 1790 and they had one daughter.

Discovery of titanium

After a brief interval at Bratton Clovelly, William and his family moved permanently to the rectory of Creed in Cornwall. Here, he began a remarkably accurate chemical analysis of Cornish minerals. In 1791, while studying ilmenite from the Manaccan valley, he isolated the calx of an unknown metal which he named "manaccanite". Later in 1791, Martin Heinrich Klaproth discovered what is now known as titanium in the mineral rutile. Believing this to be a new discovery, he named it "Titanium" after the Titans of Greek Mythology, eventually it was clarified that Gregor made the discovery first. Gregor was credited with the discovery, but the element kept the name chosen by Klaproth. Gregor later found titanium in corundum from Tibet, and in a tourmaline from a local tin mine.

Death and legacy

Gregor was an original member of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall in 1814.cite web|url=http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/11451|title=Gregor, William (1761–1817), mineralogist and Church of England clergyman|last=Boase|first=G. C.|coauthors=McConnell, Anita|date=Oct 2005 |work=Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online edition|publisher=Oxford University Press|accessdate=2008-05-21] Never letting his scientific work interfere with his pastoral duties, he was also a distinguished landscape painter, etcher and musician. He died of tuberculosis on 11 June 1817 and was buried in a nearby churchyard.



*"Oxford Dictionary of National Biography"

External links

* cite journal
last = Russell
first = Arthur
authorlink = Sir Arthur Edward Ian Montagu Russell, 6th Baronet
year = 1955
month = June
title = The Rev. WIlliam Gregor (1761-1817), discoverer of titanium
journal = The Mineralogical Magazine and Journal of the Mineralogical Society
volume = XXX
issue = 229
pages = pp.617–624
url = http://www.minersoc.org/pages/Archive-MM/Volume_30/30-229-617.pdf
accessdate = 2007-12-09
doi = 10.1180/minmag.1955.030.229.01

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