Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Macadam, John

MACADAM, JOHN (1827–1865), chemist, son of William Macadam, was born at Northbank, near Glasgow, in May 1827. He became a medical student in the university of Glasgow, where he took the degree of M.D. He first studied chemistry under Professor Penny, whose assistant he became, and subsequently entered the university of Edinburgh, where he worked under Professor Gregory. He went to Melbourne in 1855, to fill the post of lecturer on chemistry and natural science in the Scotch College of that city. He was one of the earliest members of the Philosophical Institution (since 1859 the Royal Society) of Victoria. He edited the first five volumes of the society's ‘Transactions,’ and occupied the post of secretary from 1857 until his election as vice-president in 1863. He represented the district of Castlemaine in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria from 1859 to 1864, and was postmaster-general during the latter part of the Heales administration (26 April till 14 Nov. 1861). He was appointed lecturer in theoretical and practical chemistry in the university of Melbourne during the session 1861–2, and also held the posts of government officer of health and public analyst to the city of Melbourne. In May 1865 he met with an accident which greatly enfeebled him. In the autumn, however, he sailed for New Zealand to give evidence in a murder case. Severe weather brought on an attack of sea sickness, of which he died on 2 Sept. 1865, on board the Alhambra. He left a widow and one son.

Macadam contributed two papers to the Royal Society, Victoria, ‘On Kerosene’ (abstract, Trans. Roy. Soc. Vict. vi. 61) and ‘On Dalton's Atomic Theory’ (not printed). He also assisted in drawing up a report on the resources of the colony of Victoria, presented to the Royal Society of Victoria in 1860.

[Besides the sources already quoted, Roy. Soc. Vict. Trans. and Proceedings, vols. i. and vi. vii. 113: Melbourne University Calendar, 1863-9; Heaton's Australian Dict. of Dates and Men of the Time; Gent. Mag. new ser., 1868, i. 141.]

P. J. H.