Kirwan Catalogue

Scope and Content

Manuscript catalogue of a collection of small specimens of minerals, classed and arranged according to R Kirwan (by him, or following his principles).

Administrative / Biographical History

Born at Cloughballymore, Ireland, 1733; sent to Poictiers to complete his education; entered the Jesuit novitiate at St Omer, 1754; left and returned to Ireland, 1755; his elder brother having been killed in a duel, came into possession of the family estates; having conformed to the established church, called to the Irish bar, 1766; ceased to practise after two years and pursued scientific studies in London; studied Greek at Cregg, 1773; resided in London, 1777-1787; became known to eminent contemporaries and corresponded with learned men in Europe; his library, sent from Galway to London in 1780, was captured by an American privateer; elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1780; received the Copley medal for a series of papers on chemical affinity, 1782; published the first systematic treatise on mineralogy in English, 1784; his treatise was translated into French, German, and Russian; delicate health caused him to adopt a more retired life; settled at no 6 Cavendish Row, Dublin, 1787; joined the Royal Irish Academy; President of the Royal Irish Academy, 1799; presided over the Dublin Library and 'Kirwanian' Societies; received a gold medal from the Royal Dublin Society in acknowledgment of his services in procuring the Leskeyan cabinet of minerals for their museum; a member of the Edinburgh Royal Society and of a number of foreign academies; honorary LLD, University of Dublin, 1794; declined Lord Castlereagh's offer of a baronetcy; honorary inspector-general of his majesty's mines in Ireland; involved in various scientific controversies; finally adopted a Unitarian form of belief, and spent much time in scriptural study; died, 1812; buried in St George's Church, Lower Temple Street, Dublin. Publications include: 'Elements of Mineralogy' (London, 1784); 'An Estimate of the Temperatures of Different Latitudes' (London, 1787); 'Essay on Phlogiston' (London, 1787); 'Geological Essays' (London, 1799); 'An Essay on the Analysis of Mineral Waters' (1799); 'Logick' (2 volumes, London, 1807); 'Metaphysical Essays' (1811); many papers on various scientific subjects.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from Geology Rare Books at University College London.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.