James J. Dobbie


James Johnston Dobbie (1852–1924), chemist and public administrator, was born in Glasgow, the son of a scientific and nautical instrument maker. He was educated at the High School of Glasgow, and then trained for three years as an architect before switching to the study of Natural Sciences at the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Leipzig. He taught Mineralogy and Chemistry at Glasgow before being appointed in 1884 to the Chair of Chemistry and Geology at the newly established University College of North Wales, Bangor. In 1903 he returned to Scotland to become Director of the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh, then in 1909 he was appointed Principal of the Government Laboratory.

He was knighted in 1915 and retired in 1920 to the house at Fairlie, Ayrshire, which had been his family's summer home since he was a boy. According to one obituary, 'he was a man of scholarly and artistic tastes, deeply versed in general literature and archaeology, and a good classic'. 1


1: Obituary of James Johnston Dobbie, Journal of the Chemical Society, Transactions, 1924, pp. 2681–90.