1 JOHN Anderson was born in 1726 and died 70 years later. He was nicknamed “Jolly Jack Phosphorus” by his students, according to the Glasgow University website, where he was Professor of Natural Philosophy from 1757 until 1796. He went on to be Clerk of the University from 1768 until 1769.

2 Although he was born in Rosneath in Dunbartonshire, Anderson left a huge legacy for Glasgow. He wanted to provide “useful learning” to the working class. He ran non-academic lectures in the evenings, and left money in his will for the foundation of a school in Glasgow called Anderson’s Institution. He is buried in Ramshorn Cemetery on Ingram Street.

3 After graduating with an MA from Glasgow University in 1745 and a spell as a private tutor, he was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages and in 1757 he transferred to the Chair of Natural Philosophy.

Glasgow Times:

4 He was an interesting and energetic character, who had served as a soldier during the Jacobite rising in the 1740s. He designed a cannon, which he presented to the French nation in 1791. His published

work included texts on experimental physics and the use of field artillery.

5 In 1772 John installed Glasgow’s first lightning conductor on the college steeple. He was a friend of the university’s instrument maker, James Watt, and asked the latter to repair a steam engine. According to the Glasgow University website: “The

Professor was also a quarrelsome individual who became heavily involved in the factional squabbling and costly litigation which plagued the university during the late 18th century. Embittered by the experience, he bequeathed his estate to found a new university in the city. Anderson’s Institution, one of the ‘ancestors’ of the University of Strathclyde, was founded by his executors in 1796.”

Glasgow Times: