Erasmus Darwin (12 December 1731 – 18 April 1802) was an English physician. One of the key thinkers of the Midlands Enlightenment, he was also a natural philosopher, physiologist, slave-trade abolitionist, inventor and poet. His poems included much natural history, including a statement of evolution and the relatedness of all forms of life. He was a member of the Darwin–Wedgwood family, which includes his grandsons Charles Darwin and Francis Galton. Darwin was also a founding member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, a discussion group of pioneering industrialists and natural philosophers. He turned down George III’s invitation to be a physician to the King. Darwin was the inventor of several devices, though he did not patent any. He believed this would damage his reputation as a doctor, and encouraged his friends to patent their own modifications of his designs.
A horizontal windmill, which he designed for Josiah Wedgwood (who would be Charles Darwin’s other grandfather, see family tree below).
- A carriage that would not tip over (1766).
- A steering mechanism for his carriage that would be adopted by cars 130 years later (1759).
- A speaking machine (at Clifton in 1799).
- A canal lift for barges.
- A minute artificial bird.
- A copying machine (1778).
- A variety of weather monitoring machines.
- An artesian well (1783).