Contents Index

Contexts -- Societies -- Birmingham Lunar Society

The Lunar Society, an informal group of fourteen men in Birmingham, was instrumental in discovering practical applications for the more abstract science carried on in the eighteenth century. The group -- including Matthew Boulton, the potter Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Priestley, Erasmus Darwin, and James Watt -- met monthly, on the Monday nearest the full moon, giving them their name. Most members were religious dissenters and political radicals, not at all uncommon among late eighteenth-century scientific societies.

The Lunar Society's members were most concerned with the practical and commercial advantages of scientific developments, but their interests were wide-ranging, including ballooning, chemistry, and standardizing weights and measures. By 1790 the group had dissolved, although their determination to combine commercial with scientific instruments was an important harbinger of the Industrial Revolution.