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Alexander Thoms, of the Thoms of Clepington family, was the son-in-law of Matthew Forster Heddle (1862-1884), Professor of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews. As a young man Thoms went to Bengal, India, where he remained engaged in estate and plantation business for about thirty years. In 1884 he moved to St Andrews and remained there until his death. He was active in local affairs and a keen supporter of St Andrews Cottage Hospital. In 1884 he was ordained an elder in St Leonard's kirk and was kirk treasurer from 1889-1921. An amateur mineralogist, Thoms presented a valuable collection of stones and minerals to University College, Dundee. He died in 1925 aged 89.