BIRKBECK, GEORGE, M.D., one of the warmest friends and kindest instructors of the operative classes, was born in 1776, at Settle, in Yorkshire, where his father was a merchant and banker. He displayed an early predilection for mechanical and scientific sub jects, which led him to select the medical profession as his pursuit. While at Edin burgh, he was put in nomination for the pro fessorship of the Andersouian Institution at Glasgow, and his election was carried by a considerable majority. In November 1799 he commenced his first course of lectures at Glasgow on Natural and Experimental Philo sophy. Some time afterwards he commenced a gratuitous course of lectures, which he con tinned until 1804, when ho relinquished the professorship, and was succeeded by Dr. Ure.
While in active practice in London as a physician, Dr.Birkbeck had few opportunities of up the labours which he had commenced at Glasgow for the Advancement of scientific knowledge amongst artisans; but it was a subject which he had always at heart. In 1820 ho gave a gratuitous course of seven , teen lectures at the London Institution. In 1 1827 he was the chief means of promoting the first Mechanics' Institution. He presided
at a public meeting at the Crown and Anchor, which was attended, amongst others, by Dr. Lusliington, Jeremy Bentham, David Wilkie, and Cobbett; and after another meet ing, on the 2nd of December, the first officers of the London Mechanics' Institution' were appointed on the 15th of December. Dr.Birk beck was elected president, which office he filled till his death ; and his son has since been annually elected to the same post. At the formation of the institution, Dr. Birkbeck generously lent the sum of 3,7001., for the purpose of building a lecture-room, &c.
Dr. Birkbeck's professional and scientific pursuits, and his services in various ways, in connection with objects of public utility, were continued to the last ; and those who attended the lectures at the London Mechanics' Insti tution, in its best days, will well remember those of Dr. Birkbeck as among the most in structive and the most attractive. He died December 1, 1841, at his residence in Fins bury-square, London.