Thomas Anderson Scotland

Biography of Thomas Anderson

Thomas Anderson
Thomas Anderson

Thomas Anderson (1819-1874) was Professor of Chemistry at the University from 1852 until his death in 1874.

Born in Leith, the grandson of a founder member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Anderson studied at the University of Edinburgh and graduated MD in 1841. He continued his studies in Organic Chemistry in Sweden, Germany and Austria before returning to Scotland to work as a teacher of Chemistry and, from 1848, Chemist to the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

Anderson's research into the properties of soils, manures and fertilisers, and his studies of decomposition, led him into research on sewage disposal, and he wrote an influential paper on sewage disposal in Glasgow with Joseph Bazalgette. He helped the University's Professor of Surgery, Joseph Lister, to develop his system of antiseptic surgery by advising him on the germ theories of Louis Pasteur and the antiseptic properties of carbolic acid.

Among his professional offices, Anderson was an editor of the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal, President of the Glasgow Philosophical Society (in 1859), and President of the Chemical Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1867. His most influential publications included "The Crystalline Constituents of Opium" (published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1853) and "The Products of the Destructive Distillation of Animal Substances", published in that journal in 1868. His Elements of Agricultural Chemistry (1860) was a highly respected textbook. Thomas Anderson was awarded a LLD in 1874 by the University of Glasgow.


Thomas Anderson
Organic and Agricultural Chemist

Born 2 July 1819, Leith, Scotland.
Died 2 November 1874.
GU Degree: LLD, 1874;
University Link: Professor
Occupation categories: chemists
Search for this person in the DNB
Record last updated: 17th Nov 2016

Country Associations

Scotland Scotland
Place of Birth

University Connections

University Roles

  • Professor

Academic Posts