Thomas Allan

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For other people of the same name, see Thomas Allan (disambiguation).

Thomas Allan FRS FRSE FSA FLS (1777–1833) was a Scottish mineralogist.


Allan was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on 17 July 1777, son of Robert Allan (1748–1818), a banker. He was educated at the High School of Edinburgh and took up banking as profession; but he is remembered today for his contributions to mineral science.

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 mineralogy post in the Dublin Philosophical Society for the German mineralogist Karl Ludwig Giesecke (1761–1833). Allan was elected aa Fellow of the Royal Society of London and of Edinburgh, He served as Curator to the RSE 1812–20 and Treasurer 1821–33.

In 1810, he was recognized with a new mineral species from Greenland, being named "Allanite" in his honor by Thomas Thomson.

Allan died at Linden Hall, Northumberland, England, on 12 September 1833. He is buried in St Cuthberts Churchyard in Edinburgh. His son, Robert Allen FRSE (1806–1863) was also a mineralogist.[1]


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).


  • 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.