John Scouler

Today (5th June) as part of the Glasgow Science Festival, Dr Charles Nelson is giving a talk Home and Abroad with 19th c. Scottish Naturalist John Scouler of Kilbarchan at 7.00pm in the Graham Kerr Building at the University of Glasgow. Dr Nelson has written a book about the remarkable life of graduate John Scouler which will be launched at this event also.

John Scouler's signature

John Scouler’s signature in the Register of Doctors of Medicine (Our reference: GUA 26677)

John Scouler was born in 1804 in Kilbarchan. After being privately educated he came to the University of Glasgow, aged only 14, and studied under the Botanist William Jackson Hooker. He later went on to study in Paris before going on an expedition to North America to investigate its flora and fauna.

Along with his companion, David Douglas, he discovered many new plants to science, this was to be his legacy, shown by the 26 plants, 2 animals and 2 fossil species that were to be named after him by future generations of scientists. However his interests extended far beyond just natural history and was involved in a variety of topics from geology to anthropology.

After returning from his two year voyage, he returned to the University of Glasgow and gained an MD in 1827 then in 1850 was awarded an LLD due to the importance of his scientific work. He spent much of his life traveling and investigating the natural world and building up a private collection of books and items of curiosity. When not traveling he was a professor at Anderson’s college and in Dublin.

His literary collections were left to Stirling’s Library in Glasgow and are now held in the Mitchell Library while his museum items were gradually distributed between the Hunterian and Kelvingrove museums. An 1863 copy of Scouler’s Views, Ancient and Modern, on the Origin of Species is held in the Special Collections of the Library.

Find out more about John Scouler in his biography on our University Story website written by Geoff Hancock, Curator of Entomology at the Hunterian Museum.


Categories: Archive Services, Special Collections

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