Arthur, William

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Arthur, William

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  • Dr. William Arthur

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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’)


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Isaac Bayley Balfour's paper on his research on the life of William Arthur can be found in the Transactions of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, v.26, 1914-1915, pp.375-404 (right click, open in new tab:)

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