1811 – He was born on the 13th day of July this year at Lime field House, Polbeth.
1820 – He began to attend evening classes at the nearby Anderson’s College (now Strathclyde University).
1832 – He became an assistant to Professor Thomas Graham.
1837 – He followed him to University College, London in this year.
1838 – He joined the chemical works of James Muspratt.
1844 – Then in this year, he joined the Tenants, Clow & Co.
1848 – He established a small business refining natural oil seepage in a Derbyshire Colliery at Alfreton, with James Oake.
1850 – He patented a process of extracting oil from cannel coal.
1851 – He quickly patented the process, and established the first truly commercial oil-works in the world at Bathgate.
1861 – He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
1864 – His patent expired this year.
1868 – From this year until 1877, he was President of Anderson’s College and founded the Young Chair of Technical Chemistry at the College.
1870 – He retired from the operation of the company.
1873 – He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
1879 – He was awarded an Honorary LID of St. Andrews University.
1883 – He died at age 71 in his home Kelly, near Wemyss Bay, on the 13th of May this year.