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William Thomas Brande

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William Thomas Brande (1788-1866), a chemist

1788 Born on 11 February, in London, the youngest of the six children of Augustus Everard Brande (1746–1834), apothecary, and his wife, Ann (1753–1837).

c1794-97 Brande received a rudimentary classical education at a private school in Kensington.

1797-1801 He attended Westminster School and did quite well in classical and general knowledge. Whilst there, was introduced (1801) to Humphry Davy, who had then just been appointed professor of chemistry at the newly founded Royal Institution.

Brande met the chemist Charles Hatchett, who had a small chemical manufacturing business. Hatchett strongly influenced Brande's choice of career and its course, as he allowed Brande to assist him as well as undertake his own chemical experiments.

Brande decided to study medicine as the only route to a career in chemistry.

1802-10 Brande worked with his elder brother, Everard Brande (1776–1868), who was then running the family apothecary business.

During his apprenticeship he visited Hanover (the home of his father) where he followed scientific and linguistic studies, after the peace of Amiens in 1802 (Napoleonic Wars 1792 to 1815). War recommenced in 1803, and Brande had difficulty returning to England.

On his return from Hanover, Brande renewed his acquaintance with Humphry Davy and this inspired his interest in chemistry still further.

1804 He was working with his brother again and began to study at the Great Windmill Street school of medicine and at St George's Hospital, where he studied chemistry under George Pearson and Friedrich Accum.

1805 He started to attend Davy's lectures at the Royal Institution.

1808 Brande and Davy were among the founders of the Animal Chemistry Club. Brande began lecturing and this gave him membership of the London lecturing circle. Over the following years he lectured on pharmaceutical chemistry at the medical school in Cork Street and on materia medica for Pearson.

1809 He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society at the age of twenty-one.

1812 Davy resigned his professorship of chemistry at the Royal Institution and Brande was invited to give a series of lectures on chemistry.

1813 He was appointed as Davy's replacement. He moved into the Royal Institution and was appointed superintendent of the house. He also replaced Davy as a lecturer on agricultural chemistry to the board of agriculture, but after one series of lectures the board was dissolved the following year. He was also appointed professor of chemistry to the Society of Apothecaries. He became a member of the Royal Society Club and was awarded the society's Copley medal for a paper on experiments dealing with the alcoholic content of wine and other drinks.

1816 He bacame one of the two secretaries of the society, a position he held for the following ten years.

1817 Brande published Outlines of Geology.

1818 He married in July and moved out of the Royal Institution.

1819 His Manual of Chemistry was published and became a hugely successful and influential textbook. It formed the model for many subsequent chemical textbooks by other authors. Both this and his 1817 publication were based on his lectures.

1823 The government consulted Brande on the manufacture of iron and steel to be used as dies for coins at the Royal Mint. This was the start of a long association with the mint.

1825 Brande was appointed clerk of the irons and superintendent of machines at the Royal Mint. Although this involved much administrative work, he was provided with an annual income and accommodation at the mint, which the Brandes occupied. His Manual of Pharmacy was published.

1839 Then followed his Dictionary of Materia Medica. (1839)

1841 He was one of the founders of the Chemical Society and was among its first vice-presidents, a post he held until 1846.

1842 The highly successful Dictionary of Science, Literature, and Art was published.

1847 - 1849 President of the Chemical Society. [1] and oversaw the incorporation of the society and commencement of publication of its Quarterly Journal

1852 Following the Royal Commission of 1848, the organization of the mint was reformed and Brande was appointed to the newly created post of superintendent of the coining and die department, a post he held until death. One of the requirements of the reformed mint was that employees must have no other paid employment. Brande resigned his professorships at the Society of Apothecaries and the Royal Institution, though he was made an honorary professor there. He also stopped consultancy work for the various London water companies.

1853 He was awarded a DCL by the University of Oxford.

1854 His last major publication, Organic Chemistry, was based on his last course of lectures at the Royal Institution, in 1852.

Brande did not make any scientific discovery of major importance but, with the application of science to medicine, to water analysis, and to coining, he made a significant contribution to bringing science and technology together in the nineteenth century.

1866 On 11 February, his seventy-eighth birthday, William Brande died at his country house in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

He was buried in Norwood Cemetery.

He was survived by his wife and children.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Oxford DNB