Scholar of classics as well as physics and chemistry. Fellow of the Royal Society (1759).
Member, with Franklin and others, of a Royal Society committee that reported on the protection of St. Paul’s Cathedral from lightning (1769). Favored the use of blunt lightning rods, in opposition to Franklin, who preferred pointed rods.
Received the Copley medal (1769) for his experiments on the use of various metals in glass-making. Manufactured a set of musical glasses whose tone Franklin greatly admired.
Educated at Peterhouse College, Cambridge.