William Thomas Brande (1788-1866)

Biography of William Thomas Brande

  • Portrait of William Thomas Brande by H. W. Pickersgill

    Detail of a portrait of William Thomas Brande by H. W. Pickersgill

    Credit: Royal Institution


Ri positions

  • Professor of Chemistry, 1813-1852
  • Superintendent of the House, 1813-1852
  • Honorary Professor, 1852-1866

Born in London of a family of apothecaries, he attended Westminster School before becoming apprenticed as an apothecary in 1802. He also studied medicine at the Great Windmill Street Medical School and at St George's Hospital but his interests moved towards chemistry after meeting with Humphry Davy. He soon started lecturing on the subject in a variety of locations in London and in 1813 succeeded Davy at the Royal Institution where he established a lecture course for medical students. From 1823 Brande was also closely associated with the Royal Mint, becoming Superintendent of the Coining and Die Department in 1852.

Although largely absent from the Royal Institution because of his other commitments, he was, nevertheless, a key figure in maintaining the stability of the Ri after Davy's departure. Never a major researcher in the sense of Davy or Faraday, he was an effective lecturer and writer of several important textbooks all of which went through several editions.


The Ri Archive holds a small amount of material regarding W. T. Brande's time at the Royal Institution which relates mainly to the running of the organisation. These papers are held within the admin archive collection.