James Keir was born in Edinburgh on 29 September 1735 and died at West Bromwich on 11 October 1820. He was educated in his native city, first at the Royal High School, and then in the medical school at the University, where he became friendly with Erasmus Darwin. He served as an army physician during the Seven Years War, resigning with the rank of Captain in 1768. In 1770 he married and settled at West Bromwich in Staffordshire, close to his friend Darwin's medical practice at Lichfield. Through Darwin, he became a member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, a group of scientists and entrepreneurs who served as a sort of advance guard of the Industrial Revolution. As well as Darwin and Keir, the group included the engineers Matthew Boulton and James Watt, the china manufacturer Josiah Wedgwood, the physician and botanist William Withering, and – a little later – the philosopher-scientist Joseph Priestley.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.