Smitsonian Institution

James Smithson’s Last Will and its Remarkable Consequences

James Smithson’s Last Will and its Remarkable Consequences

On June 27, 1829, English chemist and mineralogist James Smithson passed away, whose bequest of substantial funds in his will established the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”, despite having never visited the United States. James Smithson was the illegitimate son of Sir Hugh Smithson, later known as Sir Hugh Percy, Baronet, First Duke of Northumberland, K.G., and Elizabeth Hungerford Keate. Elizabeth Keate was the wealthy widow…
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