Thomas Garnett was born at Casterton, near Kirkby Lonsdale in Westmorland. He attended the village school at Barbon and Sedbergh School before entering Edinburgh University in 1785 to study medicine, including lectures by the eminent chemist, Professor Joseph Black. After graduating MD, Garnett set up practice as a physician in Bradford and later in Harrogate. In addition to his medical practice, Garnett gave lectures on natural philosophy and chemistry and published works on the medicinal properties of the spa waters in Yorkshire. In 1796 Garnett was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy in the newly founded Anderson's Institution in Glasgow. There he resumed his medical practice and undertook a tour of the Highlands of Scotland in 1798, publishing his Observations on this tour in 1800. As Anderson's Institution could offer only short term contracts, Garnett moved to London in December 1799 to become Professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry at the Royal Institution. This appointment was short lived and Garnett resigned in June 1801. He set up practice as a physician and was appointed Physician to St Marylebone Dispensary, where he contracted typhus fever and died in June 1802. His 'Popular Lectures on Zoonomia' were published posthumously for the benefit of his orphaned family.
From the guide to the Papers of Thomas Garnett, 1791-1804, 1988, 2004, (Strathclyde University Archives)