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Frankland, Edward

Frankland, Edward

(b. Catterall, near Churchtown, Lanscashire, England, 18 January 1825 d. Golaa, Gudbrandalen, Norway, 9 August 1899)


Frankland was the illegitimate son of Peggy frankland, the daughter of a calico printer. After education in seven schools, including Lancaster Grammar School, Frankland was apprenticed by his stepfather, William Helm, to a Lancaster druggist, Stephen Ross. The drudgery of the years from 1840 to 1845, during which Ross taught him little, haunted Frankland’s dreams for the remainder of his life. Through the efforts of two local doctors, Christopher and James Johnson, he was given facilities to perform chemical experiments in his spare time, and in 1845 they found him employment in Lyon Playfair’s laboratory at the government’s Museum of Economic Geology in London. There he met the brilliant German chemist A. W. H. Kolbe, who taught him Robert Bunsen’s methods of gas analysis—a technique Frankland exploited in his later researches.

In 1846 Frankland became Playfair’s assistant at the Civil Engineering College at Putney, London. and during the summer of 1847 he accompanied Kolbe to Marburg in order to study with Bunsen. From 1847 to 1848 he taught science with John Tyndall at the progressive Quaker school run by George Edmondson at Queenwood, Hampshire. Frankland completed his training with Bunsen at Marburg from 1848 to 1849, obtained his doctorate, and briefly studied with Justus Liebig at Giessen before returning to London to take Playfair’s chair of chemistry at Putney from 1850 to 1851. He became professor of chemistry at Owens College, Manchester, in 1851, but this position proved unsatisfactory. In 1857 he returned to London, where, until 1864, he was lecturer in chemistry at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

Frankland also indulged in the pluralism of a lectureship in science at Addiscombe Military College from 1859 to 1863, and from 1863 to 1869 he was professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution. Finally, in 1865, he succeeded A. W. Hofmann as professor of chemistry at the Royal College of Chemistry, a position he retained through the college’s many transformations until his retirement in 1885. From 1865, Frankland made official monthly analyses of the water supplies of London, and from 1868 to 1874 he served on the important Royal Commission on Rivers Pollution. For these services he was knighted in 1897.

At the age of eighteen Frankland underwent an extreme form of evangelical conversion, but after 1848 he lapsed into skepticism. Together with Tyndall, T. H. Huxley, J. D. Hooker, and others he was an active member of an informal scientific pressure group which called itself the X Club. Yet the club was unable to gain for Frankland the presidency of the Royal Society or of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, owing to his modesty and poor ability in public debate. But he did serve as president of the Chemical Society from 1871 to 1873 and was the founder and first president of the Institute of Chemistry (the society for professional chemists) from 1877 to 1880.

Frankland is an outstanding example of a pure scientist who was deeply conscious of the significance and importance of applied science; but his public service in the improvement of water and gas supplies and his contributions to the development of British scientific education await proper assessment. Frankland possessed a voracious appetite for travel, which he combined with mountaineering, yachting, and fishing. He was also a keen gardener, music lover, and amateur astronomer. In 1874, following the death of his first wife, Sophie Fick, by whom he had three sons and two daughters, he married Ellen Grenside, by whom he had two daughters.

Frankland’s extraordinary practical and manipulative ability, as well as his power, like Bunsen’s, to combine physics with chemistry, was exemplified in all three of the broad categories of his research: organic, physical, and applied chemistry. In 1844 H. Fehling had obtained a new compound, benzonitrile, C7 H5 N (i.e., phenyl cyanide), by the dry distillation of ammonium benzoate. Following A. Schlieper’s preparation of valeronitrile, C5 H9 N (i.e., butyl cyanide), in 1846, Kolbe and Frankland noted that both nitriles were easily hydrolyzed to their corresponding acids (i.e., benzoic and valeric acids). In their joint work of 1847 they pointed out that if these so-called nitriles were really cyanides, then their hydrolysis would agree with Berzelius’ iconoclastic suggestion that acetic acid was a methyl radical conjugated with oxalic acid (C2 H3. C2 O3. HO, C = 6, O = 8). If both these assumptions were made, it followed that the homologues of acetic acid (e.g., propionic acid) arose from the conjugation of oxalic acid with ethyl (alkyl) radicals. Their production of propionic acid from ethyl cyanide in 18471 led Frankland and Kolbe to attempt separately the isolation of alkyl radicals from acids: Kolbe by the electrolysis of acids (1849) and Frankland by using a reaction between alkyl iodides and zinc based on analogy with Bunsen’s celebrated isolation of cacodyl in 1837. But after much controversy and the reform of atomic weights, Frankland was forced to admit that the formulas of the radicals he prepared between 1848 and 1851 had to be doubled and that the radicals were in fact inert hydrocarbons of the paraffin series.

The work on radicals also led Frankland in 1849 to the isolation of a new reactive organometallic compound, zinc methyl; this, together with the alkyl alkyltin compounds which he prepared in 1850 by the action of sunlight on alkyl halides in the presence of tin, produced the following problem. If, as the conjugation theories of Berzelius and Liebig held, the different alkyl groups associated with oxalic acid (i.e., a carboxylic group) had little or no influence on the combining properties of the acid, why did alkylconjugated metals have combining powers different from those of the metals alone? For example, tin diethyl (stanethylium) formed only one oxide, whereas tin itself formed at least two oxides. Zinc methyl, on the other hand, seemed to possess the same singular combining power as zinc. Here was the seed of the concept of valance, which, with international agreement on atomic weight values, was to unite the rival theoretical schools of chemistry during the 1860’s into the common aim of structural chemistry.

On 10 May 1852 Frankland read to the Royal Society a paper on organic metallic compounds in which he made the empirical observation that elements possessed fixed combining powers, or “only room, so to speak, for the attachment of a fixed and definite number of the atoms of other elements”.2 The expression “valence” or “valency” began to be used by other chemists only after 1865, whereas Frankland tended to use the misleading term “atomicity”. Although the development of valence as an architectural concept for linking atoms together within a molecule owed more to the work of Kekulé in the 1850’s and 1860’s, Franklank’s teaching position at the Royal College of Chemistry and his influence on the Department of Science and Art science examinations enabled him to spread the idea through the younger generation of British chemists. In 1866 he published an influential textbook, Lecture Notes, in which he adopted Crum Brown’s graphic (structural) formulas and argued (against Kekulé) that elements could exhibit more than one valence below a fixed upper maximum. He also developed a special shorthand structural notation3, but it proved confusing and its use did not persist into the twentieth century.

Frankland was quick to see that the analytical techniques he had developed and the organometallic compounds he had prepared would be powerful aids to synthesis, by which he meant the chemist’s ability to build up compounds “stone by stone” with a view to understanding their atomic configurations. From 1863 to 1870 he and Baldwin Duppa exploited zinc ethyl and other organic reagents, including ethyl acetate, in the synthesis of ethers, dicarboxylic acids, unsaturated monocarboxylic acids, and hydroxy acids. This meticulous work revealed clearly the structure and relationship of these compounds, and of course its methodology had great bearing on the growth of the chemical industry.

Intermittent work on combustion during the 1860’s was initiated by a memorable ascent of, and nighton, Mont Blanc with Tyndall in 1859. Frankland found that Humphry Davy’s views on the nature of flame were unsound and that pressure variations produced striking changes in the illuminating power of flames4. He showed the relevance of this finding to the supply of domestic illuminating gas and, in 1868, to stellar spectroscopy. During the latter brief investigation in collaboration with the astronomer J. N. Lockyer, lines of helium were first observed in the sun; but Frankland did not agree with Lockyer’s interpretation that helium was a new element5.

Frankland’s wide interests included biology. In 1865, together with Adolf Fick and Johannes Wislicenus, he designed an experiment to test Liebig’s theory that the source of muscular energy was the oxidation of nitrogenous muscular tissue. The two Germans performed this experiment by ascending Mt. Faulhorn in Switzerland while on a protein-free diet, then measuring the nitrogen output in their urine6. That confirmed their suspicion that muscular energy comes principally from the oxidation of nonnitrogenous materials. It remained for Frankland to confirm in the laboratory that the oxidation of carbohydrates and fats produces sufficient energy to account for the mechanical work of an organism7. His calorimetric experiments of 1866 on the energy values of common foodstuffs laid the foundation for quantitative dietetics.

In 1867, together with H. E. Armstrong, Frankland devised a method for analyzing water by combustion analysis of organic carbon and nitrogen in vacuo8. A rival method developed by J. A. Wanklyn in the same year9, which identified nitrogen content as ammonia, led to acrimonious disputes between the two men over the respective merits of their systems. Frankland’s method, although extremely accurate, proved too cumbersome and difficult for the unskilled, so Wanklyn’s simpler but less reliable technique was usually preferred by public analysts. Frankland’s humanitarian and scientific interest in water analysis was continued by his son Percy.


1. E. Frankland and H. Kolbe, “On the Chemical Constitution of Metacetonic Acid, and Some Other Bodies Related to It”, in Memories of the Chemical Society, 3 (1845–1848), 386–391.

2. E. Frankland. “On a New Series of Organic Bodies Containing Metals”, in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 142 (1852), 417–444, sec p. 440. Publication of this paper was delayed by the oversight of the Society’s secretary, G. Stokes (see Frankland’s autobiography, 1902 ed., p. 187).

3. E. Frankland, “Contributions to the Notation of Organic and Inorganic Bodies”, in Journal of the Chemical Society, 4 (1866). 372–395.

4. E. Frankland, “On the Influence of Atmospheric Pressure Upon Some of the Phenomena of Combustion”, in Philosophical Transcations of the Royal Society, 151 (1861), 629–653.

5. Letter to Lockyer, 9 Sept. 1872, in the archives of the Sir J. N. Lockyer Obsernatory, Sidmouth, Devonshire.

6. A. Fick and J. Wislicenus, “On the Origin of Muscular Power”, in Philosophical Magazine, 4th ser., 31 (1866), 485–503.

7. E. Frankland, “On the Origin of Muscular Power”, ibid., 32 (1866), 182–199.

8. E. Frankland and H. E. Armstrong, “On the Analysis of Potable Waters”, in Journal of the Chemical Society, 6 (1868), 77–108.

9. J. A. Wanklyn, E. T. Chapman, and M. H. Smith, “Water Analysis: Determination of the Nitrogenous Organic Matter”, ibid, 5 , 445–454.


1. Original Works. Frankland published over 130 papers, of which the Royal Society Catalogue of Scientific Papers (London, 1867–1925) lists 107; see II, 699–700, VII, 700–701, IX, 918, and XV, 101; sixty-four were republished, some in a revised form, by Frankland in his 1877 book. To these should be added “A Course of Ten Lectures at the Royal Institution”, in Chemical News, 3 (1861), 99–104, 118–122, 132–136, 166–170, 185–187, 201–203, 215–219, 291–299, 377–381, and 4 (1861), 51–54, 65–68, 93–97; “Chemical Research in England”, in Nature, 3 (1870–1871), 445; an untitled paper on chemical apparatus read to the Kensington Science Conferences of 1876, in Nature, 14 (1876), 73–76 — see also South Kensington Museum. Conferences Held in Connection With the Special Loan Collection of Scientific Apparatus, 3 unnumbered vols. (London, 1876), “Chemistry, Biology”, pp. 1–13; the presidential addess to the Institute of Chemistry, in Chemical News, 37 (1878), 57–59; reply to Lockyer’s attack on the Institute of Chemistry, ibid, 52 (1885), 305–306. Note also Frankland’s important evidence to the Select Committee on Scientific Instruction for Industrial Classes, 1867–1868, in Parliamentary Papers 1867–1868, XV (432), pars. 8033–8177; and to the Devonshire Commission on Scientific Instruction and the Advancement of Science, 1871–1875, ibid., 1872, XXV (C.536); 1874, XXII (C.1087); and 1875, XXVIII (C.1298), pars. 40–47, 516–518, 758–835, 980–982, 2473–2488, 5667–5896, 11,053–11,108, and index. Finally, note Frankland’s influence in George S. Newth, Chemical Lecture Experiments. Non-metallic Elements (London, 1892, 1896).

Frankland’s books were Ueber die Isolirung des Radicales Aethyl (Marburg-Brunswick, 1849), his Ph.D. diss.; Lecture Notes for Chemical Students (Embracing Mineral and Organic Chemistry) (London, 1866), the 2nd ed., 2 vols., published as I, Inorganic Chemistry (1870), and II, Organic Chemistry (1872), and a 3rd ed. of II, rev. by F. R. Japp (1881) — see below for the 3rd ed. of I; Reports of the Rivers Pollution Commission (1868), 6 vols. (London, 1870–1874), also in Parliamentary Papers, 1871, XXV, XXVI; 1872 XXXIV; and 1874, XXXIII; Experimental Researches in Pure, Applied, and Physical Chemistry (London, 1877), Frankland’s edited version of his papers, dedicated to Bunsen; How to Teach Chemistry; Hints to Science Teachers and Students, George Chaloner, ed. (London-Philadelphia, 1875); Water Analysis for Sanitary Purposes (London, 1880, 1890); Inorganic Chemistry, rev. by J. R. Japp, 3rd. ed. of Lecture Notes, I; Shetches From the Life of Edward Frankland (London, 1901); and Sketches From the Life of Sir Edward Frankland, edited and completed by M. N. W. [West] and S. J. C. [Colenco] (Frankland’s daughters)

For Kekulé’s claim to priority in valence theory, see his unpublished MS “Zur Geschichte der Valenztheorie”, in R. Anschütz, August Kekulé, I (Berlin, 1929), 555–569, repr. in facs. in R. Kuhn, ed., Cassirte Kapitel aus der Abhandlung: Über die Catboxytartronsäure und die Constitution des Benzols (Weinheim, 1965). frankland’s polemics with Wanklyn may be traced from Chemical News, 17 (1868), 45, 79, 97; 33 (1876), 85, 104–106; and 66 (1892), 103, 119. On the X Club, see Frankland’s autobiography.

MS material is located in London in the Royal Institution (where the Tyndall papers may also be found), the Royal Society, and Imperial College archives. Other archives containing MS papers are those at Liverpool University (the Reade papers), the Lancaster Public Library (the Lancastrian Frankland Society), and the Sir J. N. Lockyer Observatory, Sidmouth. Unlisted papers held by the Frankland family are not yet available for study. Oddments of Frankland’s apparatus are to be found at the Royal Institution and the City of Lancaster Museum.

II. Secondary Literature. The best obituaries are J. Wislicenus, in Berichte der Deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft, 33 (1900), 3847–3874, with photograph and list of papers; H. McLeod, in Journal of the Chemical Society87 (1905), 574–590; and [J. R. Japp], in Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 139 (1900), 343–349. A full version of H. E. Armstrong’s Frankland memorial lecture to the Chemical Society was never published, but see his interesting “First Frankland Memorial Oration to the Lancastrian Frankland Society”, in Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, 53 (1934), 459–466. See also Sir W. Tilden, Famous Chemists (London, 1921), pp. 216–227; and J. R. Partington, A History of Chemistry, IV (London-New York, 1964), ch. 16. For an extremely thorough analysis of Frankland’s contributions to valence theory, see C. A. Russell, History of Valency (Leicester, 1971). Frankland’s period as a schoolteacher is sketched in D. Thompson, “Queenwood College, Hampshire”, in Annals of Science, 11 (1955), 246–254; and his contribution to biochemistry in E. McCollum, A History of Nutrition (Boston, 1957), pp. 127–129. For Frankland’s activities on behalf of professional chemists, see R. B. Pilcher, The Institute of Chemistry of Great Britain and Ireland, History of the Institute, 1877–1914 (London, 1914), passim.

W. H. Brock

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"Frankland, Edward." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. . 25 Apr. 2017 <>.

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Frankland, Edward


(b. Churchtown, Lancashire, 18 January 1825, d. Golaa, Norway, 9 August 1899)

organic chemistry; bond; valence; synthesis; structure; industrial chemistry; organometallic chemistry; water analysis chemical education. For the original article on Frankland see DSB, vol. 5.

Subsequent work on Frankland followed the discovery in the 1970s of extensive new archival material, especially a cache of more than three thousand documents, including correspondence, memoranda, lecture notes, and much else. There is also a complete collection of detaileddiaries by his daughter. Three other major collections exist, one containing many portraits and photographs. All this material remains in private hands, but most has been microfilmed.

Ancestry . Until the late twentieth century, all that was known of Frankland’s ancestry was that he was the illegitimate child of Margaret Frankland, daughter of a Lancashire calico printer. Her own antecedents were later explored, the Frankland line going back to the early seventeenth century in the Craven district of West Yorkshire; her maternal line, the Dunderdales, was identified as a farming family long established in the Garstang area of Lancashire. Here, in the late eighteenth century, Frankland’s maternal grandfather came as an itinerant calico printer. The identity of Frankland’s father was so well concealed by the family—and never mentioned by his son— that it appeared that he was a person of substance who had his own reasons for concealment. In fact he was Edward Gorst, a lawyer who became Deputy Clerk of the Peace for Lancashire, and money was paid to preserve his secret. His own marriage later produced further family, including the politician Sir John Gorst (who was thus Frankland’s half brother). These details are of much more than merely antiquarian interest; it has been argued that the circumstances of his birth, and the necessity for keeping them secret at all costs, led on the one hand to a driving ambition to prove his own worth and on the other to an acute shyness and a great reticence to give interviews or make biographical material available.

Career . While the general outlines of Frankland’s career are well known, much new detail has emerged. His experience of eight schools was varied, but his great indebtedness to James Willasey, owner of a school in Lancaster (Frankland’s seventh), is clear. Here he gained a new understanding of the natural world, and this was vastly increased by the services of two local doctors, the Johnsons, who provided a laboratory for young men who wanted to learn science in the evenings. Their influence was truly remarkable and extended far beyond Frankland.

Frankland depicted his first job, as a pharmaceutical apprentice, as a laborious waste of five years, and subsequent accounts have repeated that view uncritically. A revisionist view is that, for his own reasons, Frankland exaggerated his misfortunes and failed to recognize the considerable advantages he gained from the proprietor, Stephen Ross (whom he does not even name in his own embittered account). The circumstances were later clearer as to his first chemical appointment, under Lyon Playfair, and it is certain that the Johnsons played a part in securing him the job.

Frankland’s year at Queenwood College (1847– 1848) proved to be another formative experience in developing scientific discipline. His diary for that year was discovered and throws much light on his developing lifestyle as well as the feuds and indiscipline in a failing establishment. Following a year at Marburg, Frankland spent a similar period at Putney College before becoming the first professor of chemistry at Owens College, Manchester. The six years spent there were momentous for his development of a web of industrial consultancies (hitherto unknown). These involved much extra-university work, the acquisition of wealth (which was to become a driving force for his later life), and a deepening knowledge of all kinds of applied chemistry. Meanwhile, surviving lecture notes reveal a new breadth of coverage, depth of concern for technological chemistry, and an astonishing degree of academic professionalism.

The ambitious Frankland was not satisfied even by these opportunities and, in 1857, he moved to London, where he remained for the rest of his career. Holding a variety of posts (often in plurality), he made his mark chiefly at the Royal Institution and the Royal College of Chemistry (later part of Imperial College). Documents later discovered clarified his lecturing style and material and his relations with colleagues. They also reveal his problems of justifying the expenditure of so much time on external consultant work, which culminated in a furious dispute over his salary and his eventual resignation in 1885.

Scientific Work . In the early twenty-first century it was clear that Frankland’s importance for the development of valence and structure theories had been considerably underrated. His pioneer work in organometallic chemistry was placed in a far wider context than before, and he was recognized as the effective founder of the subject, even the term organometallic and its modern definition being his. Frankland’s invention of the term chemical bond also denotes a fundamentally new approach to chemistry. His extension of the concept to organic chemistry opened up the way to a new structural organic chemistry. The fact that he was rarely recognized for these singular achievements requires complex explanation, including the ambivalent role of organometallic chemistry, his use of old atomic weights and equivalents, the controversy between proponents of radicals and types, and the personal opposition of his great rival, August Kekulé.

Frankland’s work in organic chemistry was further examined, and it became evident that his explorations of acetoacetic ester and related compounds gave rise not only to a powerful synthetic method but one that could lead to allocation of structures for the products. He was hailed as one of the great founders of synthetic organic chemistry. Another area of Frankland’s research was water analysis.His role in its use for monitoring public water supplies has been discussed by several authors. His appointment as official analyst for London’s water supply led to his dominating the scene for over twenty years, in part because the technique that he had developed was so complex that few other chemists were able to use it effectively. He introduced the concept of previous sewage contamination as a measure of unacceptability, and estimated this by determination of dissolved nitrogen. The discovery of his water analysis notebook revealed the astonishing extent of his consultancy, going far beyond London and extending even to the Middle East. A study in the social historyof

science concludes that Frankland had strong political motivations, and there is no doubt that financial ambition strongly colored his approach to this topic.

Other scientific research that came to light in fresh detail includes studies on muscular power and nutrition that became the start of measurements of what was later called the calorific value of foodstuffs. He produced theories of glaciers and meteorology and—more important— work on atmospheric pollution. With Joseph Lockyer he studied the spectrum of the sun and discovered a line of a previously unknown terrestrial element, naming the newcomer helium.

Educational Advances . Frankland’s role as a leading chemical educator has long been recognized, though the magnitude of his contribution has only in the early 2000s been understood. He was the leading pioneer of popular chemical education in Victorian Britain, partly through his use of formulae showing atoms by circles and bonds by lines. Known as Frankland’s Notation, it was seized upon as an effective heuristic instrument, especially with the young or those fairly new to chemistry. It was popularized in his frequent classes for mechanics and others, by his own textbook Lecture Notes for Chemical Students (1866), and by the ascendancy of his ideas in the Department of Science and Art examinations. It was later believed that all of this was part of a deliberate strategy by which he came to dominate the national examination system, for which he was chief examiner from 1865 to 1876. He introduced a new emphasis on theory and at least some knowledge of experiments. He was not able to persuade the authorities to introduce practical examinations until 1878. But he did run a series of courses for teachers to give training in practical work, and he published an influential book, How to Teach Chemistry (1875).

Scientific Institutions . For all his shyness, Frankland was much at home in the company of his fellow scientists. In the Chemical Society he was vice president and/or foreign secretary for nearly a dozen years before becoming president in 1871–1872. At just this time the chemists of Britain were beginning to agitate for professional recognition, and this was achieved in 1877 by the creation of the Institute of Chemistry. Frankland was its first president and has been considered to have been its real founder.

In addition to these two chemical bodies, the Royal Society claimed much of Frankland’s spare time. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1853, he received both its Royal and Copley medals. Frankland served for many years as the secretary of a small, informal group known as the X-Club, which had been founded by T. H. Huxley. Though not formally part of the Royal Society, all but one of its members held an FRS, and it became an active pressure group for the cause of scientific naturalism. Elected to the Royal Society Council as soon as he moved to London, Frankland might have expected the eventual accolade of presidency of the Royal Society. It was not to be, and his consolation was the post of foreign secretary when he was seventy-one. A later discovered letter about the presidency, written by Huxley, contains the pregnant phrase “Frankland won't do.” Though no explanation was given, it seems that it was chiefly Frankland’s trade associations that debarred him from the highest office in British science.

Personal Relations . Much of the Frankland material that emerged between 1980 and 2005 demonstrated how tortuous were some of his family relationships. His first wife, Sophie, died from consumption at Davos, where Frankland had sent her for convalescence. Letters between Sophie and her younger daughter, also named Sophie, reveal how deeply she regretted being severed from her family; Frankland rarely visited, staying only briefly, though her end was clearly near. His second marriage was far from happy, and he was often away from home. The final summers of his life were spent in Norway, writing his reminiscences with the help of Jane Lund, a secretary from the British embassy. The suggestion that she was his mistress is without foundation.

Frankland’s elder son Fred was exiled to New Zealand because he failed to achieve his father’s exacting academic standards. Fierce controversy raged with his other son Percy, leading to a complete rupture of family relationships, ostensibly caused by controversy about payments for water analyses. The rift was healed only just before Frankland died.

Frankland received a knighthood in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours List in 1897. His KCB was awarded, not for water analysis as has been often stated, but because he (and William Crookes) had declined the honor of presidency of the British Association and to each this was a fitting consolation prize. However, the scientific community knew nothing of this and, quite rightly, rejoiced in the KCB being awarded to one of their most distinguished members. Yet Frankland’s reputation remained largely unknown to generations of chemists, largely perhaps owing to his reluctance to give details of his own life. Amazingly, the Royal Society never published an obituary for its late foreign secretary, and the Chemical Society failed to honor its former president with any notice until six years after his death, and then only by an ordinary obituary rather than the usual Memorial Lecture. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, however, Frankland’s achievements were recognized. The Royal Society of Chemistry now awards a Frankland Lectureship (from 1981) and a Frankland Fellowship (from 1983) for work in organometallic chemistry.


Coley, Noel George, Gerrylynn K. Roberts, and Colin A. Russell. Chemists by Profession. London: Royal Institute of Chemistry/Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1977.

Hamlin, Christopher. A Science of Impurity: Water Analysis in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Bristol, U.K.: Hilger, 1990.

McGrayne, Sharon Bertsch. Prometheans in the Lab. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.

Russell, Colin A. “Edward Frankland and the Cheapside Chemists of Lancaster: An Early Victorian Pharmaceutical Apprenticeship”.Annals of Science 35 (1978): 253-273.

———. Lancastrian Chemist: The Early Years of Sir Edward Frankland. London: Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1987.

———. Edward Frankland: Chemistry, Controversy and Conspiracy in Victorian England. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

———. “The Frankland Enigma.” Chemistry in Britain 35 (1999): 43-45.

———. “Chemical Techniques in a Pre-electronic Age: The Remarkable Apparatus of Edward Frankland.” In Instruments and Experimentation in the History of Chemistry, edited by Frederick L. Holmes and Trevor H. Levere. Boston: MIT Press, 2000.

——— .“Edward Frankland.” In New Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004.

———, and Shirley P. Russell. “The Archives of Sir Edward Frankland: Resources, Problems, and Methods.” British Journal for the History of Science 23 (1990): 175–185.

Seyferth, Dietmar. “Zinc Alkyls, Edward Frankland, and the Beginnings of Main-Group Organometallic Chemistry.” Organometallics 20 (2001): 2940–2955.

Colin A. Russell

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Frankland, Sir Edward

Sir Edward Frankland, 1825–99, English chemist. He studied under Bunsen and Liebig and taught at several English institutions. In working on the synthesis and isolation of compounds he evolved the theory of valence. He made studies of water purification; of flame and luminosity with John Tyndall; of gases with J. N. Lockyer, with whom he discovered helium; and of the chemistry of foods. His work on water purification was continued by his son, Percy Faraday Frankland, 1858–1946, also a chemist, who with his wife, Grace Toynbee Frankland, conducted bacteriological studies. He and his wife wrote Micro-organisms in Water (1894) and Pasteur (1898).

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