Foundation of Chair of Chemistry, 1713

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The Creation of the Chair of Chemistry at Edinburgh in 1713 was a vital step towards the foundation of the Faculty of Medicine in 1726, and help lay the foundations of what would become the Faculty of Science in 1893.

On 9 December 1713, the Town Council of Edinburgh appointed James Crawford (1682-1731) to be Professor of Physic and Chemistry, noting that this would obviate the need for Scots to travel abroad to study these subjects. Crawford was allotted two apartments in the college for teaching purposes but was awarded no salary. He appears to have given courses on an irregular basis rather than annually.

On 9 February 1726, the Town Council issued an Act which is effectively the foundational charter of the Faculty of Medicine. It appointed two Professors of the Theory and Practice of Medicine and two Professors of Medicine and Chemistry, and granted Edinburgh University the right not only to teach medicine 'in all its branches' but to examine students and confer degrees in medicine. In October 1726, a meeting of the Senatus Academicus formally recognized the four newly created Chairs as constituting a Faculty of Medicine along with the Chair of Anatomy.

Andrew Plummer (1697-1756), one of the newly appointed 'Professor of Medicine and Chemistry' appears to have immediately taken over the Chair of Chemistry from James Crawford. Crawford had divided his time between the Chairs of Chemistry and Hebrew since 1719 but from now on taught Hebrew alone.

Sources

  • Alexander Bower, The History of the University of Edinburgh. 3 vols. Edinburgh, 1817-1830.
  • Sir Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during its First Three Hundred Years, 2 vols (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1884)