1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lawes, Sir John Bennet

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LAWES, SIR JOHN BENNET, Bart. (1814–1900), English agriculturist, was born at Rothamsted on the 28th of December 1814. Even before leaving Oxford, where he matriculated in 1832, he had begun to interest himself in growing various medicinal plants on the Rothamsted estates, which he inherited on his father’s death in 1822. About 1837 he began to experiment on the effects of various manures on plants growing in pots, and a year or two later the experiments were extended to crops in the field. One immediate consequence was that in 1842 he patented a manure formed by treating phosphates with sulphuric acid, and thus initiated the artificial manure industry. In the succeeding year he enlisted the services of Sir J. H. Gilbert, with whom he carried on for more than half a century those experiments in raising crops and feeding animals which have rendered Rothamsted famous in the eyes of scientific agriculturists all over the world (see Agriculture). In 1854 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, which in 1867 bestowed a Royal medal on Lawes and Gilbert jointly, and in 1882 he was created a baronet. In the year before his death, which happened on the 31st of August 1900, he took measures to ensure the continued existence of the Rothamsted experimental farm by setting aside £100,000 for that purpose and constituting the Lawes Agricultural Trust, composed of four members from the Royal Society, two from the Royal Agricultural Society, one each from the Chemical and Linnaean Societies, and the owner of Rothamsted mansion-house for the time being.