Dr Thomas Stewart Traill 1781 - 1862

Dr Traill came from the Orkney Islands, studied medicine in Edinburgh and came to Liverpool to set up his medical practice.

It was during his time in the city that he became part of a movement to provide accessible education for the working classes – the very cornerstone of the LJMU we know today, 200 years on.

He would become the first Director of the Mechanics' Institute between 1825 and 1834 and delivered lectures on chemistry as part of the institute's public lecture series. This documents the beginning of the teaching of science at the institution.

By 1834 there were courses on the microscope, combustion and phrenology. With the foundation of Queen's College in 1857, it became the first institution in Liverpool to offer advanced courses in chemistry.

Dr Traill eventually returned to Edinburgh as Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and President of the Edinburgh Royal College of Physicians after his period of work in Liverpool. He also went on to become the Editor of the eighth edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Please note
The last of four Bicentenary year Roscoe Lectures in 2023, named in honour of famous abolitionist William Roscoe, was delivered by author, academic and poet Malik Al Nasir on “The truth that lies behind Roscoe”. In the lecture he shared his research in which he has discovered that the wealth generated from the enslavement of his own ancestors was brought to Liverpool, and how many of those who benefitted financially from the slave trade offered financial support to Roscoe’s education institutes.
As part of his research, Malik found that Traill’s wife, Christian Robertson, had benefitted from her uncle’s wealth which came from his work as a slave trader in Demerara and Grenada. Traill was a direct partner with William Rosoce in founding the Mechanics’ Institute.
Find out more about Malik’s lecture.