Fullerian Professor of Chemistry, 1874-1877
Born in Hackney, he was educated privately before studying chemistry - first at University College London, and then at the University of Giessen. On his return to London in 1850 he taught chemistry at St Thomas's Hospital for two years. He sat on the Royal Commission on lighthouses (where he met Michael Faraday, whose biography he would later write) and on the government committee on guncotton.
His main research was in physical chemistry where he worked on the chemical relations of light and on batteries. He was active in a number of learned societies and in education where he was a member of the London School Board from 1873 to 1894. He was related by marriage to Lord Kelvin and one of his daughters married Ramsay Macdonald, who became the first Labour Prime Minister.