1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tennant, Smithson
TENNANT, SMITHSON (1761–1815), English chemist, was born at Selby, Yorkshire, on the 30th of November 1761. He began to study medicine at Edinburgh in 1781, but in a few months moved to Cambridge, where he devoted himself to botany and chemistry. He graduated M.D. at Cambridge in 1790, and about the same time purchased an estate near Cheddar, where he carried out agricultural experiments. He was appointed professor of chemistry at Cambridge in 1813, but lived to deliver only one course of lectures, being killed near Boulogne on the 22nd of February 1815 by the fall of a bridge over which he was riding. He was a man of more promise than performance, and his chief achievement was the discovery of the elements iridium and osmium, which he found in the residues from the solution of platinum ores (1804). He also contributed to the proof of the identity of diamond and charcoal.