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Frankland [née Toynbee], Grace Coleridgefree

  • Susan L. Cohen

Frankland [née Toynbee], Grace Coleridge (1858–1946), bacteriologist, was born on 4 December 1858 at Beech Holme, Wimbledon, Surrey, the youngest daughter and ninth child of Joseph Toynbee (1815–1866), a celebrated aural surgeon, and his wife, Harriet, daughter of Nathaniel Reynolds Holmes. Little is known about her early life except that she was educated at home, in Germany, and for one year at Bedford College, London. Her scientific predilections seem to have developed seriously after her marriage on 17 June 1882 to Percy Faraday Frankland (1858–1946), second son of Sir Edward Frankland; a chemistry lecturer (later professor), he shared her special interest in bacteriological problems, particularly where these impinged upon matters concerning public health.

Grace was one of the British women scientists who made notable contributions to research in the medical sciences during the late nineteenth century, a time when opportunities for women to study science were limited. She achieved success for her independent contributions as well as her collaborative work. Her first publication, in 1887, was a study of micro-organisms in air, and was the outcome of work she and her husband undertook. This was followed in 1888 by their joint studies of micro-organisms in water and soil. Other joint papers published in British scientific journals in 1889 and 1890 included a study of nitrification, of the chemical reactions which occurred in fermentation processes, and of the possibility of using fermentation processes to prepare chemically pure substances. A bacteriological appendix which she compiled appeared in another joint publication on sugar fermentation in 1892. She was also co-author of two volumes, Micro Organisms in Water: their Significance, Identification and Removal (1894) and the biography Pasteur (1898). Percy Frankland was magnanimous in his praise of his wife, dedicating his book Our Secret Friends and Foes (1882) to 'the companion whose sympathy and invaluable assistance have so greatly enhanced the enjoyment of scientific work' (JCS, 1998).

Independently, Grace Frankland was probably best-known for her monograph Bacteria in Daily Life (1903). She was also a regular contributor of original research papers to a number of journals, especially Nature; the subjects covered included typhoid fever epidemics in America, bacteria and carbonated waters, and Dr Yersin and the plague virus. Elected a fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society in 1900, and one of the first twelve women scientists admitted to the Linnean Society of London, in December 1904, her petition for entry into the Chemical Society in October 1904 was unsuccessful.

Grace and Percy Frankland had one son, Edward Percy; they were a popular couple whose home, which exuded a heady atmosphere of scientific adventure, was always open to visitors. They moved to Loch Awe in Argyll after Percy retired in 1919, and spent much of their time enjoying music, gardening, and travelling. Grace Frankland died at Loch Awe on 5 October 1946, a victim of senility, and was buried in the churchyard of Glenorchy, Argyll. Her husband died three weeks later.


  • M. R. S. Creese, Ladies in the laboratory? American and British women in science, 1800–1900 (1998), 150–51
  • W. E. Gather, JCS (1948), 1996–2000 [obit. of Percy Faraday Frankland]
  • W. E. Gather, Obits. FRS, 5 (1945–8), 697–715 [obit. of Percy Faraday Frankland]
  • P. Phillips, The scientific lady: a social history of women's scientific interests, 1520–1918 (1990)
  • minutes, Chemical Society, London, 21 Oct 1904
  • A. T. Gage, A history of the Linnean Society of London (1938)
  • M. Rayner-Canham and G. Rayner-Canham, Women in chemistry: their changing roles from alchemical times to the mid-twentieth century (1998)
  • Royal Holloway College, Egham, Surrey, Bedford College archives
  • b. cert.
  • m. cert.
  • d. cert.


  • Maull & Fox, cabinet print, Linn. Soc.

Wealth at Death

£1250 19s. 5d.: confirmation, 24 April 1947, CCI

Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society
Journal of the Chemical Society