Charles Blachford Mansfield
Charles Blachford Mansfield (1819-1855), chemist and traveller. He met Charles Kingsley at Cambridge, and formed a lifelong friendship. The extraction method of benzene from coal tar, which he patented in May 1848 (no. 11,960), which was the basis for the coal tar and dyestuffs industries from which others reaped the profits. In 1852, Mansfield travelled to Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, largely to escape a sexual entanglement with a working-class woman that had scandalised his friends. He stayed in Asunción for two and a half months. Paraguay, under José Francia and his successor Carlos Lopez, had been shut off from the world for 40 years, and Mansfield was the first English visitor to write about it. His letters, and short essay on the recent history of Paraguay was published in English and translated into Portuguese. On his return to England, he became entangled with Mary Ellen Meredith, the wife of the writer George Meredith. He was badly burned in his laboratory, and was buried in Weybridge churchyard.