Bournon, Jacques-Louis, Comte De
Bournon, Jacques-Louis, Comte De
(b. Metz, France, 21 January 1751; d. Versailles, France 24 August 1825)
Bournon was an early and ardent supporter of the Abbé Haüy’s theories of crystal structure. In approximately twenty scientific memoirs he followed Haüy’s procedure in identifying the integrant molecules of various mineralogical species, but he did not hesitate to criticize Haüy’s judgment when he considered it erroneous. His major work was the handsomely illustrated three-volume Traté complet de la chaux carbonatée et de l’arragonite (1808), in which he described minutely all of the currently known crystal variations of calcite and aragonite.
Bournon’s father, the owner of the Château de Fabert, near Metz, had formed a large mineralogical collection that stimulated Bournon’s early and lasting interest in mineralogy. Bournon pursued a military career, becoming a lieutenant of the marshals of France. In 1791 he emigrated to the Rhineland and fought in the army of the princes in the campaign of 1792, after which he went to England. He was well received in scientific circles there, owing to his Essaisur la lithographie de St. Étienne-en-Forez et sur l’origine de ses charbons de pierre (1785).
In England, Bournon lectured frequently on mineralogy and organized the large mineralogical collections of Lord Grenville, Sir Abraham Hume, and Sir John St. Aubyn. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, of Lord Grenville, Sir Abraham Hume, and Sir John St. Aubyn. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, in 1802 and helped to found the Geological Society, of which he was the first foreign secretary, from 1811 to 1814. He returned to France after the restoration of the Bourbons and became the director general of the mineralogical cabinet of Louis XVIII. The mineral bournonite, a sulfantimonite of lead and copper characterized by beautifully shaped crystals that are often twinned, was named after Bournon, who first described it completely in 1804.
Bournon’s important works are Essai sur la lithographie de St. Étienne-en-Forez et sur l’origine de ses charbons de pierre (Paris, 1785); Traité complet de la chaux carbonatée et de l’arragonite, 3 vols. (London, 1808); Catalogue de la Collection minéralogique du Comte de Bournon (London, 1813); and Catalogue de la collection minéralogique particuliére du roi, 2 vols. (Paris, 1817). His mineralogical memoris were published principally in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London, the Journal des mines, and Transactions of the Geological Society.
John G. Burke
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