Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Accum, Friedrich Christian

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557481Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 01 — Accum, Friedrich Christian1885George Farrer Rodwell

ACCUM, FRIEDRICH CHRISTIAN (1769–1838), chemist, was born in Buckebourg, in Westphalia, in 1769. In 1793 he came to London, and engaged in some science work, which led to the delivery of a course of lectures on chemistry and physics in 1803 at the Surrey Institute, and to the publication in that and the following years of several treatises on chemistry and mineralogy, including a ‘System of Chemistry’ in 1803, an ‘Essay on the Analysis of Minerals’ in 1804, and a ‘Manual of Analytical Mineralogy’ in 1808. He afterwards associated himself with Ackermann, the art publisher, in order to introduce into England the lighting of towns by gas; and in 1810, when the London Chartered Gaslight and Coke Company was formed, Accum was nominated one of its engineers. It is said that the prompt adoption of this mode of lighting in London and other large cities was greatly due to his ‘Practical Treatise on Gas Light,’ which was published in London in 1815 (3rd edit. 1816), and speedily translated into German, French, and Italian. A second work by Accum on the same subject, entitled ‘Description of the Process of manufacturing Coal Gas,’ appeared in 1819 (2nd edit. 1820). He was made librarian of the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street, but a charge of embezzlement was brought against him shortly afterwards, and he was dismissed. On being brought to trial, he was acquitted; but he immediately left England for Berlin. There, in 1822, he obtained a professorship at the Technical Institute, which he retained till his death on 28 June 1838. Accum published ‘Chemical Amusement’ (London, 1817, 4th edit. 1819), which was translated into German in 1824, and into French in 1827; and ‘Adulterations of Food and Culinary Poisons’ (London, 1820, 2nd edit. 1820), which was translated into German in 1822. In 1826 he published a work in two volumes at Berlin on the physical and chemical qualities of building materials (Physische und chemische Beschaffenheit der Baumaterialen). He also wrote on ‘Crystallography’ (London, 1813); on ‘Chemical Reagents’ (London, 1816), translated into Italian in 1819; on the ‘Chalybeate Spring at Thetford’ (1819); on ‘Brewing’ (London, 1820); on the ‘Art of making Wine’ (London, 1820), translated into French in 1821; on ‘Culinary Chemistry’ (London, 1821); and on the ‘Art of making wholesome Bread’ (London, 1821).

[Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (1875); Meusel's Das gelehrte Teutschland; Neuer Nekrolog der Deutschen, xvi. 628.]

G. F. R.