Mateo Jose Bonaveiitura Orfila, a French chemist, born in Port Mahon, Minorca, April 24, 1787, died in Paris, March 12, 1853. He studied medicine at Valencia and Barcelona, and the junta of the latter city resolved to defray the cost of his further education in Paris, on condition that he should return thither as a professor. The outbreak of the peninsular war soon deprived him of his pension, but an uncle at Marseilles supplied him with the necessary funds; and the chemist Vauquelin obtained permission for him to stay in Paris. He graduated in October, 1811, and became a private lecturer on chemistry in Paris. The first edition of his Traité des poisons, ou toricologie generate (2 vols.), appeared in 1813-'15. He made application to become a French citizen in 1814, married (July, 1815) a daughter of the sculptor Lesueur, and was elected corresponding member of the academy of sciences In 1816 he was nominated a physician to Louis XVIIL, in 1819 appointed professor of medical jurisprudence in the faculty of medicine, in 1823 professor of chemistry, and in 1831 dean of that faculty. In 1832 he was chosen a member of the general council of hospitals in Paris, subsequently a member of the general council of the department of the Seine, and in 1834 one of the council of public instruction.
As a toxicologist he was without a rival. He organized the clinical hospital, and established a new botanic garden, the museum of pathological anatomy styled musée Dupuytren, and the Orfila gallery of comparative anatomy. In 1851 he was elected president of the academy of medicine, and in his will he left to that society and to six other public institutions the sum of 121,000 francs. Perhaps the most original of his works is his Traité de toxicologic, which was successively improved until the fifth edition (2 vols. 8vo, 1852). He also published Elements de chimie appliqvée à la medecine (1817; 8th ed., 2 vols., 1851), and Traité des exhumations juridiques (2 vols., 1831), which was afterward merged in the Traité de medecine legale (1823-'5; 4th ed., 3 vols., 1848). He left memoirs of his life which have not yet been published. His contributions to periodicals have been collected and edited by Dr. Beaufort, under the title Recherches medico-legales et thérapeutiques sur l'empoisonnement par l'acide arsenieux, précédées d'une histoire de l'arsenic métallique (Paris, 1841).