Joseph Black

Biography of Joseph Black

Joseph Black
Joseph Black

Joseph Black (1728-1799) was a lecturer in Chemistry at the University, 1756 to 1766; Regius Professor of Anatomy and Botany, 1756, and Regius Professor of Practice of Medicine from 1757 to 1766. He also served as Clerk of Senate from 1762 until 1766. The Department of Chemistry occupies the Joseph Black Building.

Born in Bordeaux, the son of an Irish wine merchant, Black was educated at the University from 1744 to 1752. He spent five years in the Arts class and then studied Medicine, transferring to the University of Edinburgh without graduating in order to continue his medical studies. He graduated MD from Edinburgh two years later and spent a further two years researching and writing before going to Glasgow.

Black's Chemistry lectures attracted large audiences and he was able to persuade the University authorities to equip a new, improved laboratory. He made many of his greatest discoveries while working at the University, identifying carbon dioxide and researching into latent and specific heat, in which he collaborated with his friend James Watt. He left Glasgow in 1766 to take the Chair of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh.

You can see his grave in Greyfriar's Kirkyard. More information is available here.


Joseph Black
Chemist and Physician

Born 16 April 1728, Bordeaux, France.
Died 6 December 1799.
University Link: Alumnus, Clerk of Senate, Lecturer, Professor
GU Degree:
Occupation categories: chemists; physicians
NNAF Reference: GB/NNAF/P2615
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Record last updated: 25th Sep 2013

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