The History of Leith

June 22, 2012

Robert Jamieson, Professor of Natural 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
Jottrnal, 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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