Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tate, Alexander Norman

TATE, ALEXANDER NORMAN (1837–1892), analytical chemist, born at Wells, Somerset, on 24 Feb. 1837, was the son of James Tate, by his wife Emma Norman. He was educated at the cathedral grammar school, and in 1857 studied chemistry in the laboratory of James Sheridan Muspratt [q. v.] in Liverpool. In 1860 he entered the laboratory of Messrs. J. Hutchinson & Co., alkali manufacturers of Widnes, and in 1863 established an analytical and consulting practice in Liverpool. He especially devoted himself to the study of American petroleum, which was then being brought on to the market, and wrote a short work entitled ‘Petroleum and its Products’ (London, 1863). After the publication of this book he gave up his practice in Liverpool and was engaged in the erection and management of oil-refining works in the Isle of Man and in Flintshire until 1869. He then returned to his former occupation in Liverpool, and finally purchased a practice and removed to Hackins Hey. He obtained a considerable reputation as a specialist in the analysis of oils and fats.

Tate was intimately connected with the Society of Chemical Industry, of which he was an original member, and was at various times president and vice-president of the Liverpool section of the society. He also took a prominent part in furthering scientific education in Liverpool. In conjunction with James Samuelson in 1871 he founded evening classes known as the Liverpool operatives' science classes, which were afterwards extended to a number of centres under the name of the Liverpool science and art classes. In 1891 the classes at Bootle were taken over by the local corporation, and in the following year the remaining classes were amalgamated with the school of science, to form the present school of science and technology. Tate himself taught in the class, and was much interested in the various local associations of science teachers. During 1888–90 he edited a monthly magazine called ‘Research,’ which was devoted to the popularisation of science, but was discontinued at the close of its second year. He died at his residence at Orton, Cheshire, on 22 July 1892. In 1860 he married Elizabeth Millicent Faulkes of Claughton, Lancashire, by whom he left two daughters. Tate's original contributions to science were few in number and chiefly concerned with technical chemistry, technical education, and chemical geology. He contributed papers to the journals of the Chemical Society, Royal Dublin Society, and Society of Chemical Industry.

[Journal of Chemical Society, 1893, i. 764, and Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, 1892, p. 594; Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers; private communication from Mr. F. Tate.]

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