Joseph William Mellor

Joseph William Mellor CBE, FRS[1] was a chemist and an authority on ceramics.

Early life

Joseph William Mellor was born in Lindley, Huddersfield, England, in 1869.[2] He grew up on New Zealand's South Island where his father found employment in the textile industry. The family was too poor to send Joseph to secondary school, but he continued to study in his spare time and undertook self-initiated study at King Edward Technical College.[3] Mellor graduated from the University of Otago in 1898. He won a scholarship to study for a research degree at the University of Manchester.

Career in the UK

Mellor never returned to New Zealand, although he kept in contact with relatives there and represented the country as a governor of Imperial College, London. After his three years at Manchester, he based himself in north Staffordshire where he carried out research in the local industry, ceramics. In 1910 the separate towns which make up Stoke-on-Trent federated, and a decision was made to build a technical college, which opened in 1914 with Mellor as Principal. The college specialised in ceramics and mining: it was provided with a ceramics library by the Carnegie UK Trust.[4]

During the First World War Mellor's research was directed towards refractories, high-temperature ceramics relevant to the steel industry and thus the war effort. In 1927 Mellor became only the second person to be elected to the Royal Society[1] for work related to ceramics, the first having been Josiah Wedgwood in the eighteenth century. He was invested a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1938 New Year Honours.

Mellor's publications include a sixteen-volume Comprehensive Treatise on inorganic chemistry.[5]

Although offered a peerage for his contribution towards the war effort, Joseph turned it down saying that he had freely given his scientific knowledge to help his country because ill-health prevented him joining the army and fighting in France.[6]


  1. Green, A. T. (1939). "Joseph William Mellor. 1869-1938". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 2 (7): 572–576. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1939.0018.
  2. "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography". 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56145. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. "The World of Joseph W. Mellor". University of Otago Library. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  4. The files on this and other Carnegie libraries in the UK are held in the National Archives of Scotland
  5. Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
  6. "".


  • Mellor, J. W. (1912), Modern inorganic chemistry, London: Longmans, Green, OL 7178815M
  • Mellor, J. W. (1934), Uncle Joe's Nonsense for Young and Old Children, London: Longmans, Green

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