John Lumsden was born in 1866 in Dundee. He was educated at West End Academy and studied at St Andrews and Munich Universities. He graduated both as a Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Science. He became an assistant in the chemistry department of University College, Dundee. He published many papers focused on organic and physical chemistry. He also conducted research for the Government during the First World War on explosives. Dr. Lumsden was a justice of the peace, a former member of the Licensing Appeal Court of Dundee Town Council, and director of the Curr Night Refuge and Working Boys’ Home.