Allan, Thomas (DNB00)

ALLAN, THOMAS (1777–1833), mineralogist, was born at Edinburgh on 17 July 1777, where his father was a banker, and was educated at the High School. He entered his father's bank, but took to scientific pursuits from his childhood. At the peace of Amiens he visited Paris, made scientific acquaintances, and began a mineralogical collection in Dauphiné. In 1808 he published an ‘Alphabetical List of Minerals in English, French, and German,’ and he is the reputed author of a ‘Sketch of Mr. [afterwards Sir Humphry] Davy's Lectures in Geology, from Notes taken by a Private Gentleman,’ which appeared about 1811. He afterwards travelled in Ireland and England; in 1812 he visited the Faroe Islands, and communicated to the Royal Society of Edinburgh an account of their mineralogy. In 1811 Giesecke shipped for Denmark a collection of minerals, formed during six years' labour in Greenland. The ship was captured by a French privateer, retaken by an English frigate, and the boxes sold at Leith for 40l. to Allan. Amongst them was 5,000l. worth of cryolite, and a new mineral called, after the purchaser, Allanite. In 1813 Giesecke returned with a fresh collection, made in Greenland, and was hospitably received by the proprietor of his first collection, who afterwards obtained for him a professorship of mineralogy at Dublin. Allan continued to increase his collection, with the assistance of W. Haidinger, a German geologist, until it became the finest in Scotland. Allan was an admirer of Hutton, and published papers upon his theories in the Edinburgh Transactions. Besides the volumes noticed above, Allan wrote the article ‘Diamond’ for the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica.’ He was a fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was a public-spirited citizen, filled many municipal offices, and was a liberal contributor to Edinburgh charities. He married in 1806 Miss Smith, sister of Elizabeth Smith of Tent Lodge, Coniston. He died of apoplexy on 12 Sept, 1833.

[S.D.U.K. Dictionary; Scotsman, 18 Sept. 1833; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Proceedings of Edinburgh Royal Society, xii. 567.]