History of Accumulator
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Born Carluke, Lanarkshire 1885; died Edinburgh 1967
After studying science at Heriot Watt College and drawing at Edinburgh College of Art, Adam started work at RBGE in 1903 preparing lecture illustrations for the Regius Keeper, Isaac Bayley Balfour. In 1914 he was made a permanent member of staff as assistant in charge of the studio and in 1915 promoted to the new post of Photographer and Artist, remaining in this post until his retirement in 1949. He became official artist to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, but Adam became best known as one of the foremost landscape photographers in Scotland, illustrating publications such as Quigley’s ‘The Highlands of Scotland’, 1936, and publishing pictures regularly in the Scots Magazine, the Scotsman and Picture Post. In the later twentieth Century his mountain photographs have provided conservationists and landscape historians with a reliable historic record of the landscape and rural life. He continued to use his heavy 1908 half plate camera, printing all the photographs himself in a style difficult to replicate today and his negatives are now in the collection of St. Andrews University.
Source: DNB; Bown's '4 Gardens in 1'; Desmond's Dictionary; Fletcher & Brown's 'RBGE 1670-1970'
see also: https://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/28160
Obituary published in German in Bauhinia v5/2, pp.103-104, 1974.
- Corporate body
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Born Lanarkshire 1685 (or 1683); died Edinburgh 1760
Charles Alston initially attended Glasgow University and then spent time in legal training through the patronage of the Duchess of Hamilton, before eventually being employed as her ‘principal servant’ where he was able to use his leisure time to study medicine. When the position of superintendent of the physic garden at the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh became vacant in 1715, the Duchess used her political influence to secure the post for her protégé. She acquired a commission from George I appointing him King’s Botanist in 1716, a post he held for life. He then returned to Glasgow to obtain a degree, taking a year out to study under Herman Boerhaave at Leiden, before graduating in 1719. After this his reputation developed rapidly. He was elected to the fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1721 and appointed Secretary in 1725, a post he held for 21 years. He taught botany and materia medica at Edinburgh University where he played a major part in enhancing the international reputation of the medical school, and he was appointed professor in 1738, thereby combining the commission of the Kings Botanist in Scotland with the Chair of Botany at the University of Edinburgh, a pattern set for the next two centuries forging a link between the Garden's collections and the University's research and teaching. By 1746 Alston's reputation and stipend (from the Town Council, Patrons of the Chair) were such that he could take on the revival of the University’s botanical garden at Trinity Hospital. The city’s original Garden at St. Anne’s Yard and the Royal Garden at Holyrood also thrived under Alston. Alston first published in 1740 an index to plants demonstrated to pupils in the Botanic Garden. His research interests latterly focused on the medicinal qualities of quick-lime and water. He also made an ‘ill-judged’ attack on the Linnaean sexual system of plant classification.
Sources: DNB; Fletcher & Brown's ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; Desmond's Dictionary; Bown's '4 Gardens in 1'
Born Edinburgh 1832; died Edinburgh 1870.
After graduating with an MD at the University of Edinburgh, Thomas Anderson entered the East India Company Bengal medical service in 1854, serving in the North West Provinces and then Lucknow (he was present at the time of the Siege). He returned to Calcutta in 1858 as garrison assistant surgeon but ill health sent him back to Britain. He had developed an interest in botany at university and whilst in India studied the local flora and collected plants in the Himalayas. During his journey back to Britain he stayed briefly in Aden where his collections formed the basis of ‘Florula Adenensis’, a supplement to the Journal of The Linnean Society. Anderson returned to India in 1860 and took temporary charge of the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta, becoming superintendent in 1861, a post he held until 1868. In 1861 he went to Java to bring back plants and seeds of Cinchona calisaya a source of quinine for new plantations in India. He was invalided back to Britain in 1869, resuming his research on Indian flora, but died the following year from a liver complaint.
Sources: DNB; Desmond's Dictionary; Gard Chron 1870, Jnl Bot 1870