Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Traill, Thomas Stewart

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TRAILL, THOMAS STEWART (1781–1862), professor of medical jurisprudence, son of Thomas Traill (d. 1782) and his wife Lucia, was born at Kirkwall in Orkney, of which place his father was minister, on 29 Oct. 1781. He graduated in medicine in the university of Edinburgh in 1802, where he was a fellow student of Lord Brougham and Sir David Brewster. He settled in Liverpool in 1803, and continued in practice there till 1832, when he was appointed to the chair of medical jurisprudence in the Edinburgh University. He was admitted a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh on 7 May 1833, and became its president on 2 Dec. 1852. He died at Edinburgh on 30 July 1862. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1819.

Traill took great pleasure in lecturing, and delivered many lectures in Liverpool, where he was prime mover in founding the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, of which he was the first secretary, and assisted in establishing the Royal Institution and the Liverpool Mechanics' Institution. He had a very tenacious memory, but trusted too much to it. He was editor of the eighth edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ to which he contributed many articles, but much of the work, owing to his ill-health, was edited by Adam Black. He wrote:

  1. ‘De usu aquæ frigidæ in typho externo,’ Edinburgh, 1802, 8vo.
  2. ‘Outlines of a Course of Lectures on Medical Jurisprudence,’ Edinburgh, 1836, 12mo; 2nd edit. 1840, and Philadelphia, 1841; 3rd edit. 1857.

He contributed a ‘List of Animals met with on the Eastern Coast of West Greenland’ to Scoresby's ‘Journal of a Voyage to the Northern Whale Fishery,’ furnished an article on the ‘Thermometer and Pyrometer’ to the ‘Library of Useful Knowledge,’ section ‘Natural Philosophy’ (vol. ii. 1832), and published a translation of Schlegel's ‘Essay on the Physiognomy of Serpents,’ London, 1844, 8vo. He also contributed nearly seventy papers on various scientific subjects to different journals between 1805 and 1862.

[Gent. Mag. 1862, ii. 372; Proc. Royal Soc. Edinburgh, v. 30; Proc. Liverpool Lit. and Phil. Soc. xvii. 3; Hist. Sketch Royal Coll. Physicians, Edinburgh; Hew Scott's Fasti Eccles. Scot.; British Museum Cat.; Index Cat. Surgeon-General United States Army; Royal Soc. Cat.]

B. B. W.