The mineralogist Thomas Allan was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 17 July 1777 to a family of Scottish merchants and bankers. He took up banking for his profession, but he is remembered today for his contributions to mineral science. He died at Linden Hall, Northumberland, England, on 12 September 1833.
At an early age Allan became fascinated with minerals and he began to accumulate a large mineral collection that was subsequently bequeathed to his son Robert Allan (1806–1863). This collection was later incorporated into Robert Greg's, which was ultimately purchased by the British Museum of Natural History in the mid-nineteenth century.
In 1813, Allan was influential in securing a position mineralogy post in the Dublin Philosophical Society for the German mineralogist Karl Ludwig Giesecke (1761–1833). Allan was elected a Fellow to the Royal Society of both London and Edinburgh, and in 1810, he was recognized with a new mineral species from Greenland, being named "Allanite" in his honor by Thomas Thomson.
Allan contributed the "Diamond" article for the fifth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica as well as the work on mineralogical nomenclature An Alphabetical List of the Names of Minerals, at Present Most Familiar in the English, French, and German Languages, with Tables of Analyses (Edinburgh, 1805, followed by enlarged editions in 1808, 1814, and 1819).
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Thomas Allan.|
- Anonymous., [Obituary of Thomas Allan], Philosophical Magazine, 3rd Series, 3 (1833), p. 317-318.
- Farrar, W.V. and K.R. Farrar., "Thomas Allan, mineralogist: an autobiographical fragment," Annals of Science, 24 (1968), no. 2, p. 115-20.
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