Charles Blagden


Charles Brian Blagden
Blagden Charles.jpg
Blagden Charles (late 18th/early 19th century) by Mary Dawson Turner from a sketch by Thomas Phillips.
Born17 April 1748
Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire
Died26 March 1820 (1820-03-27) (aged 71)
Arcueil, France
Known forStudies of perspiration and the freezing point of solutions
AwardsCopley Medal (1788)

Sir Charles Brian Blagden FRS (17 April 1748 – 26 March 1820)[1] was a British physician and scientist.[2] He served as a medical officer in the Army (1776–1780) and later held the position of Secretary of the Royal Society (1784–1797). Blagden won the Copley Medal in 1788 and was knighted in 1792.

He died in Arcueil, France in 1820, and was buried at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.[1]


In June 1783, Blagden, then assistant to Henry Cavendish, visited Antoine Lavoisier in Paris and described how Cavendish had created water by burning "inflammable air".[3] Lavoisier's dissatisfaction with the Cavendish's "dephlogistinization" theory led him to the concept of a chemical reaction, which he reported to the Royal Academy of Sciences on 24 June 1783, effectively founding modern chemistry. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1789.[4] He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1789.[5]

Blagden experimented on human ability to withstand high temperatures. In his report to the Royal Society in 1775, he was first Western scientist to officially recognise the role of perspiration in thermoregulation.[6][7]

Blagden's experiments on how dissolved substances like salt affected the freezing point of water led to the discovery that the freezing point of a solution decreases in direct proportion to the concentration of the solution, now called Blagden's Law.[8]


  1. ^ a b Wilson, George (1851). The Life of the Hon. Henry Cavendish. London: Harrison and Son. p. 131. Charles Blagden pere.
  2. ^ For a summary of Blagden's life and work, see Jungnickel, Christa; McCormmach, Russell (1996). Cavendish. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. pp. 212–16. ISBN 978-0-87169-220-7. charles blagden experiment.
  3. ^ Brougham, Henry Lord (1839). "Historical Account of the Discovery of the Composition of Water". The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal. 27 (54): 316–24.
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 28 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Charles Blagden". American Philosophical Society Member History. American Philosophical Society. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  6. ^ Blagden, Charles (1775). "Experiments and Observations in an Heated Room". Philosophical Transactions. 65: 111–23. doi:10.1098/rstl.1775.0013. JSTOR 106183. S2CID 186214553.
  7. ^ Blagden, Charles (1775). "Further Experiments and Observations in an Heated Room". Philosophical Transactions. 65: 484–94. doi:10.1098/rstl.1775.0048. JSTOR 106218. S2CID 186212940.
  8. ^ Mellor, Joseph William (1912). Modern Inorganic Chemistry. New York: Longmans, Green, and Company. p. 161. Blagden's Law.

Further reading

  • Blagden, Charles (1781). "On the Heat of the Water in the Gulf-Stream". Philosophical Transactions. 71: 334–44. doi:10.1098/rstl.1781.0042. JSTOR 106528.
  • Blagden, Charles (1903). "Letters from Sir Charles Blagden to Sir Joseph Banks on American Natural History and Politics, 1776–1786". Bulletin of the New York Public Library. 7.
  • Fauque, Danielle M. E. (December 2008). "An Englishman Abroad: Charles Blagden's Visit to Paris in 1783". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. England. 62 (4): 373–90. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2008.0041. ISSN 0035-9149. PMID 19244920.
  • Heberden, E. (April 1985). "Correspondence of William Heberden, F.R.S. with the Reverend Stephen Hales and Sir Charles Blagden". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. England. 39 (2): 179–89. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1985.0008. ISSN 0035-9149. PMID 11611813. S2CID 1550531.
  • Hill, B. (July 1976). "In War and Peace Sir Charles Blagden, M.D.Ed., F.R.S. (1748–1820)". The Practitioner. England. 217 (1297): 126–31. ISSN 0032-6518. PMID 792860.
  • De Beer, G. (1954). "Sir Charles Blagden's First Visit to Switzerland". Gesnerus. 11 (1–2): 17–35. ISSN 0016-9161. PMID 13232299.

External links

  • Blagden Papers at the Royal Society
  • National Public Radio story about Blagden's experiment in a hot room
  • Sir Charles Blagden Papers. James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.