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Edward Divers

  Dr. Edward Divers M.D. D.Sc. F.R.S. was born on November 27 1837, and died on April 8 1912 at his home in Kensington, London, England.

Divers received his early education at the City of London School and the Royal College of Chemistry. In 1854, he was appointed as teaching assistant and demonstrator at Queen's College, Galway, where he studied medicine, one of the few scientific degrees then available in Ireland; he was awarded the M.D. degree in 1860.

For the next six years Divers carried on in a quiet medical practice and gave public lectures on chemistry related topics in the Galway region. With ambition and opportunity limited in the west of Ireland, Divers left for England and in 1870 and he was appointed lecturer in Medical Jurisprudence at the Middlesex Hospital School.

On the recommendation of A. W. Williamson Divers left for Japan in 1873 to become Professor of Chemistry at the Imperial College of Engineering in Toranomon. He became Principal of the College in 1882. Edward Divers was the first British chemist to go to Japan, where he immediately set about building laboratories on the Liebig and Hofmann models. His dedication to research now became paramount, even after a test-tube explosion in 1885 robbed him of sight in his right eye.

As Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, he received the second class order of the Scared Treasure and Third Class of the Order of the Rising Sun, President of the Chemical Society 1900–1902.

He became President of the Chemical Section of the British Association in 1902. In 1905 he served as vice president of the Institute of Chemistry and President of the Society of Chemical Industry.

Divers was married in 1865 to Margaret Theresa Fitzgerald.


  • The Times, Wednesday, April 10, 1912; page 9; Issue 39869; col B.
  • William J. Davis, ‘Divers, Edward (1837–1912)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
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