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The Lunar Society of Birmingham

Updated on October 5, 2011

Intellectual greats, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, William Withering, Erasmus Darwin, James Watt, Matthew Boulton, and William Hershel, have a striking similarity that is often overlooked, yet undoubtedly a contributing factor to each individual’s greatness: they were all Lunatics. These innovators and undoubted contributors were members of The Lunar Society of Birmingham, an organization so called due to the practice of meeting during the full moon of each month.

This grouping of scientists, engineers, and philosophers inhabited an exclusive sphere during the late 18th century, in which ideas that would advance the Industrial Revolution were conceived and nurtured. The personalities associated with this informal congregation were responsible for profound advancements in the fields of paleontology, chemistry, medicine, economics, literature and various further academic realms.

What follows is a sample of the suggested roster of members of The Lunar Society and their contributions to the progression of society:

  •  Matthew Boulton- an engineer whose ideas assisted James Watt, another member of the organization, in effectively manufacturing the steam engine.
  •  John Smeaton- a civil engineer who encouraged the benefits of steam power, composed hydraulic lime, and experimented with energy produced by the velocity of water,
  •  Joseph Banks- an intellectual whose foreign travels to the reaches of the Pacific Islands, Australia, and New Zealand provided extensive knowledge of the culture and nature of distant lands.
  •  James Hutton- a naturalist and geologist who introduced the theory of uniformitarianism, an idea that would greatly impact both the course of geology and evolutionary thinking.
  •  William Murdock- an inventor who discovered the manner in which to utilize coal gas as a light source.

Referred to by its members as the “Lunar Circle”, this organization promoted the practical application of innovative knowledge for the betterment of society and unarguable drove the course of the Industrial Revolution.

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    • Lilith Eden profile image
      Author

      Lilith Eden 6 years ago from Memphis, TN

      Lord:

      Thank you for appreciating the hub. I actually just happened upon the Lunar Society yesterday and immediately felt the need to research and write. They are fascinating, to say the least.

      I don't believe that any official records were kept of meetings, and I find that to be such a shame!

      -Lilith

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 6 years ago

      Nice and well researched hub. The 'Lunar circle' did change our lives even before we were born. Lunatics or not, they had the drive to forsee an advancement for humankind. Thanks for your thoughtful hub!

      LORD