Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Griffin, John Joseph

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GRIFFIN, JOHN JOSEPH (1802–1877), chemist, was born in London in 1802, and was brought up as a bookseller in the firm of Messrs. Tegg & Co. In 1832 he married Mary Ann Holder, by whom he had twelve children, including William Griffin, F.C.S (d. July 1888), and Charles Griffin, F.S.A. Griffin commenced business in Glasgow as a bookseller and publisher and dealer in chemical apparatus, in partnership with his eldest brother. In 1852 the partnership was dissolved (the publishing branch being continued by his nephew as Charles Griffin & Co.), and J. J. Griffin established the firm of chemical apparatus dealers (J. J. Griffin & Sons of 22 Garrick Street, Covent Garden), which is still successfully carried on. Griffin died at his residence, Park Road, Haverstock Hill, on 9 June 1877. He received his training in chemistry in early life at Paris and at Heidelberg. While still a young man he published a translation of Heinrich Rose's ‘Handbuch der analytischen Chemie.’ While in the publishing trade Griffin, who was a man of wide culture, partly edited the ‘Encyclopædia Metropolitana,’ of which his firm were the publishers. Griffin assisted in the foundation of the Chemical Society in 1840, and throughout his life he was earnest in his attempts to popularise the study of chemistry. He devised many new and simple forms of chemical apparatus, and did much in introducing scientific methods into commercial processes. He wrote several books connected with chemistry, including ‘Chemical Recreations’ (1834), ‘Treatise on the Blow-pipe,’ ‘System of Crystallography’ (1841), ‘The Radical Theory in Chemistry’ (1858), ‘Centigrade Testing as applied to the Arts,’ ‘The Chemical Testing of Wines and Spirits’ (1866 and 1872), and ‘Chemical Handicraft’ (1866 and 1877). Nine papers from his pen appeared in various scientific periodicals. Of these the first was ‘On a New Method of Crystallographic Notation;’ ‘Report British Association,’ 1840, p. 88; and the last ‘A Description of a Patent Blast Gas Furnace,’ Chemical News,' 1860, pp. 27, 40.

[Journal Chem. Soc. for 1878, xxxiii. 229; Royal Society's Cat. of Scientific Papers; information furnished by relatives.]

W. J. H.