Scientist. He received notoriety from his pioneer study in the field of structural chemistry. His father was a prominent English lawyer, Edward Chaddock Gorst, who did not marry his mother, Margaret Frankland, the daughter of a calico printer. In a legal agreement, his father was not named for a monetary amount. She later married William Helm. He had two half-brothers who died as infants. As a 15-year-old, he was an apprentice for five year to a druggist, Stephen Ross. While an apprentice, two local physicians taught him to perform chemical experiments, and upon his release from his apprenticeship, they found him a position in a laboratory at the government’s Museum of Economic Geology in London. By 1847 he was a chemistry teacher at Queenwood College where John Tyndell was also teaching. More studies took him to laboratories at the University of Marbug in Germany, where he studied with Robert Bunsen; he earned an Ph.D. in 1849. While in Germany, he met Sophie Fick, who he married on February 27, 1851. He became the first professor of chemistry at Owens College in Manchester, England in 1851. About this time, he studied the idea of an atom of an element can combine only with a certain number of atoms of other elements, thus in 1852 he established the theory of valency, which became the basis of modern structural chemistry. He is given credit for the word “bond” in the study of chemistry. The discovery of the theory of valences produced a huge impact in chemical engineering and industrial purposes that ranged from medical drugs to textile dyes. For instance, benzene has been used as an additive in gasoline. It has also been used as a solvent and precursor to industrial chemical in drugs, plastic, dyes and synthetic rubber. After his concept of valency was read to the Royal Society in London, his article was published in the “Philosophical Transactions.” In 1863 he succeeded Michael Faraday as professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London. In 1864, he became one of the nine members of Thomas H. Huxley's, X-Club, a group of scientists that met monthly to share ideas for 29 years in Victorian England. Although he was a member of the Royal Society and British Association for the Advancement of Science, he never became president of these organizations mainly due to being shy and lacking public speaking abilities; he was Vice-President of the Royal Society, President of the Chemical Society, and led the creation of the Institution of Chemistry, the world's first organization for scientists. At the age of 18, he underwent an extreme form of evangelical conversion to the Christian faith, but after 1848, he lapsed into skepticism supporting Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. In 1865 he began a twenty-year service at the Royal School of Mines. In 1868 he was appointed a member of the second royal commission on the pollution of rivers. To this commission, he brought a great deal of data on the contamination of river and on water purification. He published the book “Water Analysis for Sanitary Purposes.” The same year, he cooperated with Sir Joseph Norman Lockyer in the studies that led to Lockyer recognizing the existence of helium in the Sun's atmosphere. He was presented the Copley Medal in 1897 and was a member of several scientific organizations world-wide. He received Doctorate Degrees from Oxford College and Edinburgh University. For his work with water pollution, Frankland was knighted in 1897 as his health started to decline,thus dying within two years on a trip to Norway. He shares a Blue Plaque, a historical marker in the United Kingdom that links a person with a place, with another prominent Victorian chemist, Sir Henry Roscoe on the wall at the University of Manchester, where Frankland taught for 6 years when the name was Owen College. His papers are archived at the John Ryland's Library in Manchester. There is a Woodburytype of Frankland in the National Portrait Gallery in London. His humanitarian and scientific interest in water analysis was continued by his second son Percy Faraday Frankland, noted chemist and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He married twice; after Sophie's death, he married Ellen Frances Grenside.
Bio by: Linda Davis