Andrew Ure lived from 18 May 1778 to 2 January 1857. He was a doctor whose research work is said to have inspired Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Andrew Ure was the son of a wealthy merchant. He studied medicine at the University of Glasgow, and also later attended the University of Edinburgh. He spent a short time working as an army surgeon before being appointed to the post of Professor of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy at Anderson's Institution. In 1809 was also appointed Glasgow's first City Astronomer.
One of his roles at Anderson's Institution was to give scientific lectures intended to expand the horizons of the city's working men. It was during one of these lectures given in 1818 that Ure described experiments he had conducted on the body of a murderer named Matthew Clydesdale, after his execution by hanging. Ure claimed that stimulating the phrenic nerve restored life to people who had been suffocated, drowned or hanged. It is said that these claims inspired the plot of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein.
In 1830, Ure moved to London to become an analytical chemist. He was employed by the Board of Customs in 1834 and became involved in the very early development of forensic science. He was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Royal Geological Society, and he was one of the founders of the Royal Astronomical Society.
In 1835 Ure published The Philosophy of Manufacturers. At one level this was a self-help book for managers of factories. At another it defended the working conditions of factories at a time when the debate on welfare and reform was just beginning. He also wrote a large number of other books, including Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures and Mines (1839), A Dictionary of Chemistry (1821), A New System of Geology (1829), and The Revenue in Jeopardy from Spurious Chemistry (1843).