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Archibald Liversidge

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Archibald Liversidge (1847-1927)

1927 Obituary[1]


Professor Archibald Liversidge, F.R.S., who died on Monday last in his eightieth year at his residence at Coombe Warren, Kingston Hill, took a prominent part in the scientific development of Australia, and particularly of New South Wales, where he spent many years of his long life. A London man by birth, he entered Sydney University in 1872, and remained there until his retirement as emeritus professor of chemistry in 1907.

Born at Turnham Green on November 17, 1847, a son of the late Mr. John Liversidge, of Bexley, Kent, Archibald Liversidge was educated privately at home until 1866, when he entered the Royal College of Chemistry and School of Mines at South Kensington, where he could attend the lectures of the eminent chemist, Edward Frankland, the physicist, Tyndall, the metallurgist, Percy, and the engineers, Willis and Goodeve.

In 1870 he gained a scholarship and proceeded to Cambridge. He was showing proficiency in physiological research under Michael Foster, who had just opened his laboratory, when the offer of the Chair of chemistry and metallurgy at the University of Sydney took him over to Australia.

Such an appointment implied a very wide field of duties and studies in those days. He had to report on the water supply of Sydney, on the cane sugar disease, and coal analyses in the first years of his new activities. He compiled tables for chemical analysis, having been demonstrator at Cambridge. He wrote papers on meteorites, on stone implements, the corrosion of aluminium, and the precipitation of gold by fungoid growth. His survey of the minerals of Australia, 1888, took him all over the Dominion and the Australian islands. He investigated the hot springs of New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand, as well as the silver and lead ores of Broken Hill, and the iron deposits of other localities. From 1874 he was one of the trustees of the Australian Museum at Sydney; he was also connected with the Technological Museum there, and reported upon the technical education and museums of New South Wales. As Australian Commissioner at several international exhibitions he was able to add largely to the collections from other parts of the world. The Royal Society of London, to which he had contributed a paper upon supersaturated saline solutions, elected him a Fellow in 1882, and soon afterwards he became secretary of the Royal Society of New South Wales. His wide interests are marked by his joining, not only the Physical and Mineralogical Societies of London, but also the Cambridge Philological Society and foreign anthropological bodies.

In 1885 he founded the Australian Association for the Advancement of Science, and, in 1902, the Sydney branch of the Society of Chemical Industry. The majority of his papers (about a hundred) were presented to the Australian institutions and to the Chemical Society of London, of which he was a vice-president after his return to England. Liversidge did not visit Australia again when the British Association held its meeting there in 1914. He was not married. His death will be regretted universally, many foreign societies having conferred honours upon him.

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