He was the son of Dr. John Aikin.
From 1803 to 1808 he was editor of Annual Review.
He was one of the founders of the Geological Society of London in 1807 and was its honorary secretary in 1812-1817. He contributed papers on the Wrekin and the Shropshire coalfield, among others, to the transactions of that society.
Later he became secretary of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 1841 treasurer of the Chemical Society. In early life he had been a Unitarian minister for a short time. He was highly esteemed as a man of sound judgment and wide knowledge. He died in London.