Sir Gilbert Thomas Morgan (1872-1940) provided a bequest to establish the Corday-Morgan Prizes in memory of his parents, Thomas Morgan and Mary-Louise Corday. A condition of his bequest, upheld to this day, is to keep their graves in good repair with flowers placed on 4th June each year.
Sir Gilbert Morgan was the first Director of the Government Chemical Research Laboratory, and a dedicated academic and industrial chemist, as well as a passionate teacher. Born in Essendon in Hertfordshire, Gilbert studied at the Finsbury Technical Institute, where he developed interests in azo dyes and rare earth metals, fields which had a major impact on his later career. His first industrial experience, working for Read Holliday and Sons in Huddersfield, allowed him to study a wide variety of chemical problems. While working there Morgan produced a best-selling dye, Titan Como Blue, and discovered a clear amber resin, later to be commercialised by Baekeland as a component in the first synthetic plastics.
After working in industry for a number of years, Morgan returned to study at the Royal College of Science in London, with subsequent promotion. There, as throughout his career, his interests were wide-ranging, and as well as his primary research into the diazo-reaction, Morgan also researched compounds from carbohydrates to terpenes. It was during this time that his involvement with the Chemical Society began, firstly as Editor of the Journal and then Secretary.
In 1912 the Royal College of Science, Dublin, appointed Morgan as Chair of Chemistry, where he returned to research in an area of early interest to him: high pressure reactions. When the First World War began, Morgan helped to rebuild the British Dye Industry, and worked closely with the Chemical Warfare Committee. As the Mason Professor at Birmingham in 1919, Morgan dedicated himself to inspiring and teaching his students, as well as undertaking all the administrative work involved in the role.
The Government Chemical Research Laboratory appointed Morgan as the first Director in 1925. There he instigated three long-term research projects with industrial applications, but simultaneously encouraged fundamental research, and the laboratory under his leadership was a demonstration of how pure and applied research could be brought together.
Morgan was honoured with a knighthood in 1937, and served as President of the Chemical Society and the Society of Chemical Industry.
The prizes were established in 1949. In 2021, the purposes of this Trust were amended, and remaining monies were combined with other generous bequests and donations to become part of the RSC Recognition Fund.