John Dollond was the son of a Huguenot refugee, who was a silk weaver. He was born in Spitalfields in November 1706 and died in November 1761 aged 55. Initially he followed his father’s trade, but also found time to study Latin, Greek, mathematics and physics, and later became an optician, joining his eldest son, Peter who had started in business as a maker of optical instruments.
John Dollond became known for his successful optics business and for patenting and selling achromatic lenses. His reputation grew rapidly and he became a Fellow of the Royal Society, publishing accounts of his various experiments. In 1761, he was appointed optician to the King, George III and the Duke of York and Albany.
After his death, his son Peter carried on the business and in 1781 he made bifocal spectacles. At the Great Exhibition in 1851 in London, the Dollonds were awarded a medal for the excellence of their optical instruments.
Today, Dollond & Aitchison is still a well-known name in the field of optics. However, the company was absorbed into Boots opticians in 2009 and most of its stores are now branded under the Boots Opticians name.