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Persoon

Smith, Sir James Edward

  • SJE
  • Persoon
  • 1759-1828

English Botanist and founder of the Linnean Society

Sinclair, James (1913-1968)

  • GB/NNAF/P148690
  • Persoon
  • 1913-1968

born at Bu of Hoy, Orkney on 29th November 1913, and died at Kirkwall, Orkney, 15th February 1968, James Sinclair obtained a BSc at Edinburgh University in 1936, became a teacher on Orkney where he also studied algae. He worked as a botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh between 1946 and 1948, moving to become Curator of the Herbarium of the Botanic Gardens in Singapore between 1948 and 1963. He collected plants in Malaya, Borneo, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Alston, Charles

  • GB/NNAF/P151649
  • Persoon
  • 1683-1760

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'
by D.W.

Arthur, William

  • ART
  • Persoon
  • 1680-1716

William Arthur graduated in medicine in Leiden in 1707 and practised in Fife, becoming a member of the Edinburgh College of Physicians in 1714. He received the Royal Warrant of appointment to the offices of the King’s Botanist and Keeper of the physic garden at Holyrood in 1715. However despite the Warrant saying he was ‘skilled in botany’ there is no evidence of this and it is likely that he secured the posts through political influence, accessed through his marriage. He was more famous for his involvement in a chaotic and unsuccessful Jacobite plot to seize Edinburgh Castle in 1715 (as told in Walter Scott’s ‘Tales of a Grandfather’) after which he escaped to Rome where he died the following year of dysentery.
Sources: Fletcher and Brown ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; (R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists); (Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’)
D.W.

Brand, William

  • GB/NNAF/P148678
  • Persoon
  • 1807-1869

Born in 1807, the son of a farmer at Blackhouse, near Peterhead, William Brand was initially educated in parish schools before being apprenticed to Writers (solicitors) in Peterhead then in Edinburgh where he entered legal classes at the University. Having completed his legal education he became a Writer to the Signet in 1834 and a partner in the Edinburgh firm of Scott, Findlay and Balderston. In 1846 he was elected Secretary to the Union Bank of Scotland, a position he held until his death. In 1863 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Whilst completing his medical degree at Edinburgh University, Brand developed a strong interest in botany, accompanying Professor Robert Graham (Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Professor of Botany at Edinburgh University) on collecting excursions throughout Scotland during 1830 and 1831. In 1836, when meetings were being held to discuss the creation of a new Botanical Society, Brand was there. He attended the inaugural meeting of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh on the 8th February 1836 making him a founding member and also logical choice for its first Treasurer. He developed ideas for a number of Society publications, devised methods for arranging and cataloguing the Society’s herbarium and collected a significant herbarium collection himself, discovering several new plants including <i>Astragalus alpinus</i> in the process.
He was also a member of the Botanical Society Club, an offshoot of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh initially comprising its original members, becoming its Secretary. At the last Club meeting he attended, in June 1869, he complained of feeling ill. After a couple of months he recovered enough to visit relatives in Peterhead, but became ill again on his return home, dying on October 15th 1869. He left behind a widow, a son and two daughters.
DW and LP

Paterson, Leonie

  • PAT
  • Persoon
  • 1973-present

Archivist at RBGE from 2000-present

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