De Morgan House, 57-58 Russell Square, Holborn, London WC1B 4HS, England
Esson had been a member of the London Mathematical Society since 1866.
6-9 Carlton House Terrace, St. James's, London SW1Y 5AG, England
Esson had been a fellow of the Royal Society since 1869.
Inverness Royal Academy, Culduthel Rd, Inverness IV2 6RE, England
Esson attended the Royal Academy in Inverness.
St. John’s College, St Giles', Oxford OX1 3JP, England
Esson studied mathematics at St. John’s College in Oxford.
Esson attended the Royal Academy of Inverness and the grammar school in Cheltenham, then studied mathematics at St. John’s College in Oxford.
In 1860 Esson was elected a fellow of Merton College, later becoming a tutor of Merton, where he was a lecturer in mathematics. His teaching was so successful that other colleges sent their students to hear him. He became a deputy professor in 1894 and in 1897 obtained a professorship of geometry. Between 1898 and 1913 he was chairman of the board of the faculty of natural science.
Although Esson was a mathematician and a professor of geometry, he published almost nothing in his own field; he contributed greatly, however, to the employment of higher mathematics in chemistry (this science had so far been satisfied with the application of arithmetic). Esson worked in his youth as a chemistry demonstrator under Vernon Harcourt, a professor of chemistry at Oxford, and the collaboration between the two researchers continued after Esson himself rose to the rank of professor. Together they considered many problems of chemical kinetics.
In 1864 they investigated the reaction of potassium permanganate with oxalic acid and, in the course of their study, nearly succeeded in formulating the law of mass action.
By examining the reaction process, Esson and Harcourt reached the conclusion that “in unit volume of a dilute solution at constant temperature the rate of chemical change varies directly with the mass of each of the interacting substances,” or “the velocity of chemical change is directly proportional to the quantity of substance undergoing change.” In a later article “On the Observation of the Course of Chemical Change,” Esson and Harcourt discussed the reaction between hydrogen peroxide and hydroiodic acid. They established that “in the presence of a large excess of iodide, the reaction is of the first order in respect of the hydrogen peroxide.”
To be sure, Esson’s formulations were rather too complicated for his contemporaries. Their merits were not recognized until the laws of chemical kinetics were fully stated on the basis of other considerations and the work of many other researchers.
Esson had been a member of the London Mathematical Society since 1866, and a fellow of the Royal Society since 1869. He was also a member of an alpine club.
Esson was a passionate mountain climber.
In 1872 Esson married Elisabeth Meek, a pastor’s daughter; they had two sons and one daughter.