Matthew Turner (physician)

Matthew Turner (died 1788), a Liverpool physician, is considered (for example by Berman, 1990) to be the author or co-author of the 1782 pamphlet, Answer to Dr. Priestley's Letters to a Philosophical Unbeliever, the first published work of avowed atheism in Britain.[1] Turner was also a pioneer in the use of ether for medical purposes, and wrote a pamphlet on the subject. In a footnote, Turner was the man who introduced Josiah Wedgwood to Thomas Bentley in Liverpool, a friendship which led to the formation of the company that produced the famous pottery.

Turner was a friend of Peter Perez Burdett and his scientific knowledge was referred to Joseph Wright of Derby when he constructed his painting of The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus in 1771[2] which is now in Derby Museum and Art Gallery.


  1. ^ Berman, David (1990). A History of Atheism in Britain: from Hobbes to Russell. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04727-7 (first published 1988)
  2. ^ Nicholson, Benedict (1968). Joseph Wright of Derby: painter of light, Volume 1. Taylor & Francis. p. 118. ISBN 9780710062840.

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