Early Members and Papers


Volume 1 of The Memorials of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, published in 1785, shows the members and officers shortly after the society was established. Notes on some of the members have been added from Lewis's Manchester and Salford Directory of 1788.

A few notes on early papers published in the Memorials of the Literary and Philosophical Society are given below.


James Massey, Esq. Joint President, Chapel St. Salford.
Thomas Percival, MD, FRS & SA & Reg. Soc. Med. Par. Soc. In the 1788 directory stated to be a Member of the medical societies of London & Edinburgh. Joint President. He shortly became sole President and remained so until his death. Lived at King St.
Rev. Samuel Hall, AM Vice President, curate, St. Ann's church, Prince's St.
Charles White, Esq., FRS, Hon. Mem. RMS & Cor. Mem. RSA in Scotland Vice President, Surgeon, King St.
George Lloyd, Esq. Vice President, Barrister at Law, Quay St.
Mr. George Bew Vice President, Brown St.
The Rev. Thomas Barnes, DD Secretary, Academy, Mosley St. in 1788/
Mr. Thomas Henry FRS Secretary, Chymist, King St.
Mr. Isaac Mosse Treasurer, Check & fustian manuf. Deansgate.
Mr. Thomas Robinson Librarian
Mr. Joseph Atkinson Hat manufacturer, Cupid's Alley
Mr. John Barrow Calico & check manufacturer, Brazen-nose St.
Thomas Butterworth Bayley, Esq., FRS  
Mr. John Bill Apothecary, Mosley St.
Mr. John Birch  
Mr. Charles Frederick Brandt Fustian manufacturer, Lever's Row.
Mr. Ashworth Clegg  
Mr. Robert Darbey Possibly apothecary at Infirmary
Mr. James Dinwiddie Possibly partner with Kennedy in fustian manufacture, Tib Lane.
Mr. John Drinkwater Surgeon, Chapel St., Salford
Mr. George Duckworth Attorney, Princess St.
Alexander Eason, MD Lever's Row
Mr. Edward Hall Surgeon to Infirmary, Deansgate
Mr Richard Hall Surgeon to the Infirmary, Deansgate
Rev. Ralph Harrison Cross St. Chapel minister, Brazen-nose St.
Mr. Samuel Hibbert  
Mr. Thomas Kershaw Silk & muslin handkerchiefs, Oldham St.
Mr. John Lawrence Fustian manufacturer, St. James Sq.
Mr. James Macaulay Tea Dealer, St. Ann's Sq.
Peter Mainwaring, MD  
John Mitchell, MD Lever's Row
Mr. John Orme Merchant, Chapel Walks.
Mr. George Philips  
Mr. John Philips Check manufacturer, Norfolk St.
Mr. Robert Philips  
Mr. John Leigh Philips Silk & cotton manufacturer, Queen St.
Mr. Thomas Philips Hat manufacturer, New Bridge St.
Mr. James Potter Fustian manufacturer, Fountain St.
Mr. John Powel  
Rev. Frederick Robert Slater  
Mr. George Wakefield  
Mr. George Walker  
Mr. John Wilson  
John Aikin, MD  
Felix Vicq d'Azyr, R. S. Med. Par. Sec and R. A. Sc. Soc. &c  
Sir George Baker, Bart, FRS, Medic. Regin. Physician to George III
James Beattie, LL.D  
Patrick Brydone, Esq., FRS  
Mr. John Buchanan  
The Right Rev. Beilby, Lord Bishop of Chester  
Edwood Chorley, MD  
Mr. Thomas Cooper  
James Currie, MD  
Erasmus Darwin, MD, FRS A member of the Lunar Society and grandfather of Charles Darwin.
Edward Hussey Delaval, Esq., FRS, Reg. S. S. Gotting. & Upsal. & Instit. Bologn. Soc.  
The Hon. Sir John Talbot Dillon, Kt., & Baron of the Holy Roman Empire  
Rev. William Enfield, LL. D  
William Falconer, MD, FRS  
Anthony Fothergill, MD, FRS  
Benjamin Franklin, LL.D, RSL & R. Acad. Scient. Par. Soc &c. At one time the American ambassador in Paris.
The Rev. Frossard, DD of Lyons, France  
William Hawes, MD  
John Haygarth, MB, FRS  
Mr. George Hibbert  
Thomas Houlston, MD  
Alexander Hunter, MD, FRS  
James Johnstone, MD  
Monsieur Lavoisier, Reg. Ac. Scient. P. Soc. Realised the importance of Priestley's discovery of oxygen, one of the founders of modern chemistry. He was executed during the French Revolution.
The Right Rev. Richard Watson, Lord Bishop of Landaff, FRS At one time he held fourteen church livings.
John Cookley Lettsom, MD, FRS & SA  
Mr. J. Hyacinth Magellan, FRS & R. Acad. Petrop, & Paris. Corresp.  
Mr. Patrick MacMorland  
Henry Moyes, MD  
Rev. John Pope  
Rev. Joseph Priestley, LL.D, FRS, Acad. Imp. Petrop, R. Holm. & Med. & Reg. Acad. Scient. P. Soc Member of Lunar Society, isolated oxygen and discovered several other gases.
Mr. William Rathbone  
Mr. William Roscoe of Liverpool  
Benjamin Ruth, MD, Professor of Chemistry and Philadelphia  
Dorning Rasbotham, Esq.  
Samuel Foart Simmons, MD, FRS & RSMP Soc. and R. S. Monspel. Corresp.  
Rev. William Turner  
Rev. George Travis, AM  
Mr. Alexander Volta, Prof. of Experimental Philosophy at Como &c. After whom the volt is named
Martin Wall, MD, Clinical Professor in University of Oxford  
Mr. John Waltire  
Rev. Gilbert Wakefield, BD  
Josiah Wedgwood, Esq., FRS A member of the Lunar Society and leading pottery manufacturer.
Rev. John Whittaker, BD, FSA  


Even such modern men and free thinkers as the founders of the Literary and Philosophical Society could not break away from the custom of the times and indeed of the next two centuries. They felt obliged to seek backing from the local gentry and appointed as Patrons, The Right Honourable the Earl of Derby, Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum of the County Palatine of Lancaster, and Sir Thomas Egerton and Thomas Stanley, Esq., Knights of the Shire in Cheshire.

Volume 3 of the Memoirs of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, produced in 1790, shows a similar list of members. By this time Thomas Percival was president and the Vice Presidents, were Thomas Cooper, Charles White, Thomas Henry, and Mr. George Philips. Two notable new appointments were John Ferriar, a medical man influential in the field of public health and Mr. James Watt, junior, who were joint secretaries.

The treasurer was Mr. Thomas Maxwell, and Librarian John Mitchell, MD (Dr. Mitchell of Lever's Row). Mr. Samuel Gregg was then a member; he was a fustian manufacturer of King Street and went to to develop Quarry Bank Mill at Styal, now the property of the National Trust. Another new member was Thomas, the son of Charles White. A new Honorary Members was Sir Joseph Banks, the eminent botanist, who was at that time President of the Royal Society.

In Volume 4 (1793) it was reported that John Dalton had been admitted as a new member. Subsequently he became one of the most famous of the early members of the society through his work on atomic theory, all of which was published in the Society's journal. By 1793, John Ferriar was a Vice President together with Charles White, Thomas Henry and the Rev. John Radcliffe, A.M., Fellow of Brazenose College, Oxford and Keeper of the Chetham Library at Manchester. Benjamin Arthur Heywood of the Manchester banking family was treasurer.


The notes that follow are not a complete list of contents but a selection of topics on education, science, medicine and industry.


A Treatise on Saltpetre, by James Massey (joint president).

On the preservation of sea water from putrefaction by means of quick lime, by Thomas Henry.

Observations on blindness and the employment of the other senses to supply the loss of sight, by George Bew (a vice president).

An attempt to show that a taste for the beauties of nature and the fine arts has no influence favourable to morals, by the Reverend Samuel Hall, also a vice president.

On the affinity subsisting between the arts with a plan for promoting and extending manufactures by encouraging the arts on which manufactures principally depend, by the Reverend Thomas Barnes, D. D. one of the secretaries of the Society together with Thomas Henry. (Rev. Barnes continued this theme in later papers and it led to the foundation of an arts and science college. This shows that at an early date in the industrial revolution, leading thinkers like Rev. Barnes saw the need for education to promote industry, not as a charity or for a religious purpose.

On the regeneration of animal substances and on the natural history of the cow so far as it relates to giving milk, particularly for the use of man, by Charles White (a vice president).

On the natural history of magnesian earth, particularly as connected with those of sea salt and of nitre with observations on some of the chemical properties of that earth which have been hitherto either unknown or undetermined, by Thomas Henry.


A brief comparison on some of the principal arguments in favour of public and private education, by the Rev. Thomas Barnes.

A Plan for the improvement and extension of Liberal Education in Manchester, by Rev. Thomas Barnes.

Proposals for establishing in Manchester a plan of Liberal Education for young men, designed for civil and active life, whether in trade or in any of the professions, by the Reverend Thomas Barnes. Among the points mentioned are:

The Constitution & Regulations of the College of Arts and Sciences in Manchester, instituted on 6 June 1783 was published in this issue. The Presidents, vice presidents, secretaries and treasurer of the Literary and Philosophical Society were appointed governors. The syllabus was to include:

Languages, Belles Lettres, History, Commerce, Law, Ethics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and Mathematics.

Chemistry education was to be under the direction of Thomas Henry.

"Chemistry will be a province by itself. Its extent and reference to so many arts, on which our manufactures depend, entitle it to this distinction. Here will be considered the elementary principles of bodies, the nature of fire, air, acids and etc. and the whole will have reference to the arts of dyeing and bleaching, which, depending on chemical principles, might probably, by the knowledge of these principles, be very greatly extended and improved.


Of Popular Illusions and particularly Medical Demonology, by John Ferriar, MD.

Observations on the bills of mortality of the towns of Manchester and Salford, by Thomas Henry.

A Physical Inquiry into the Powers and Operations of Medicines, by Thomas Percival.

Considerations relative to the Nature of Wool, Silk and Cotton as objects of Dyeing, on the various preparations and mordants requisite for the different substances and the Nature and Properties of Colouring Matter, together with some observations on the Theory of Dyeing in general and particularly the Turkey Red, by Thomas Henry.


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