|Activity||Fourth son of Samuel Brown of Haddington, founder of itinerating libraries, and grandson of John Brown, author of the ‘Self-interpreting Bible’, was born at Haddington on 23 Feb. 1817, and, after attending the grammar school of Haddington and the High School of Edinburgh, entered the medical classes of the university of Edinburgh in 1832. He graduated M.D. in 1839, but devoted his chief attention to chemical research. An account of his experiments on ‘Chemical Isomerism’ was published in the ‘Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1840-1,’ and during the same winter he delivered, along with Edward Forbes, a course of lectures on the philosophy of the sciences.|
In 1843 he was a candidate for the chair of chemistry in the university of Edinburgh, but on account of his failure to establish the proposition of the isomerism of carbon and silicon, his other high qualifications were disregarded. From this time he retired very much from public life, and gave himself over to the task of realising experimentally his doctrine of the atomic constitution of bodies, only desisting when his health failed.
He died at Edinburgh on 20 Sept. 1856. His ‘Lectures on the Atomic Theory, and Essays Scientific and Literary’ were published in 1858 in two volumes. He was also the author of a tragedy, ‘Galileo Galilei,’ 1850, and of ‘Lay Sermons on the Theory of Christianity.’