The History of Leith

July 20, 2011

Robert Jamieson, Professor of Natural History

Before recurring to general history, we may here refer to another distinguished native of Leith, Robert Jamieson, Professor of Natural History, who was born in 1779 in Leith, where his father
was a merchant, and perhaps the most extensive manufacturer of soap in Scotland. He was appointed Regius Professor and Keeper of the Museum, or ” Repository of Natural Curiosities in the University of Edinburgh,” on the death of Dr. Walker, in 1804; but he had previously distinguished himself by the publication of three valuable works connected with the natural history of the Scottish Isles, after studying for two years at Freyberg, under the famous Werner.
He was author of ten separate works, all contributing to the advancement of natural history, but more especially of geology, and his whole life was devoted to study and investigation. Whether in the
class-room or by his writings, he was always alike entitled to and-received the gratitude and esteem of the students.
In 1808 he founded the Wernerian Natural History Society of Edinburgh, and besides the numerous separate works referred to, the world is indebted to him for the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, which he started in 1819, and which maintained a reputation deservedly high as a repository of science. The editorial duties connected with it he performed for nearly twenty years (for the first ten volumes in conjunction with Sir David Brewster), adding many brilliant articles from his own pen, and, notwithstanding the varied demands upon his time, was a contributor to the ” Edinburgh Encyclopaedia,” the ” Encyclopaedia Britannica,” the ” Annals of Philosophy,” the ” Edinburgh Cabinet Library,” and many other standard works. He was for half a century a professor, and had the pleasure of sending forth from his class-room in the University of Edinburgh many pupils who have since won honour and renown in the seminaries and scientific institutions of Europe. He was
a fellow of many learned and Royal Societies, and was succeeded in the Chair of Natural History in 1854 by Edward Forbes.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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