The Chemical Society was formed in 1841 (then named the Chemical Society of London) as a result of increased interest in scientific matters.
One of its aims was to hold meetings for "the communication and discussion of discoveries and observations, an account of which shall be published by the Society". In 1847, its importance was recognised by a Royal Charter, which added to its role in the advancement of science, the development of chemical applications in industry. Its members included eminent chemists from overseas including August Wilhelm von Hofmann, who became its president in 1861. Membership was open to all those interested in chemistry, but fellowship was for long restricted to men.
In 1904, Edith Humphrey, thought to be the first British woman to gain a doctorate in chemistry (at the University of Zurich), was one of nineteen women chemists to petition the Chemical Society for admission of women to fellowship. This was eventually granted in 1919, and Humphrey was subsequently elected to fellowship.
The Chemical Society of London succeeded where a number of previous chemical associations - the Lunar Society's London branch chemical society of the 1780s, the Animal Chemical Club of 1805, the London Chemical Society of 1824 - failed. One assertion of a cause of success of the Chemical Society of London is that it was, unlike its forerunners, a "fruitful amalgamation of the technological and academic chemist".
Its activities expanded over the years, including eventually becoming a major publisher in the field of chemistry. In 1980, it amalgamated with the Royal Institute of Chemistry, the Faraday Society and the Society for Analytical Chemistry to become the Royal Society of Chemistry.
- Rayner-Canham, Marelene; Rayner-Canham, Geoff (2003). "Pounding on the Doors: The Fight for Acceptance of British Women Chemists" (PDF). Bulletin for the History of Chemistry. 28 (2).
- Brock, William H (2011). The Case of the Poisonous Socks: Tales from Chemistry. Royal Society of Chemistry. pp. 67–73.