James Jeffray (1759-1848), Regius Professor of Botany from 1790 until his death, Vice-Rector in 1800 and Clerk of Senate from 1814 to 1815, got into a spot of bother over his surreptitious cheese and ham shop in the winter of 1821!
The Faculty, prior to the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1858, was a body consisting of the Principal and a number of Professors who had administration of the whole revenue and property of the College, as well as the right of exercising patronage of eight professorships vested in the College. It is in the minutes of the Faculty meetings that we have come across the story of James Jeffray and his unauthorised shop.
In the minutes from 1st December 1821 the Faculty report that Professor Jeffray has begun building a shop adjoining his College house, which was then in High Street where the University stood until 1870. The matter is raised again on 15th December when the Faculty call for a decision to be made as to whether Jeffray gets to keep his shop.
Jeffray fails to prove the merits of his commercial venture to the Faculty and he is ordered, on 20th December, to shut his shop by the 3rd January. The High Street community may have enjoyed lunch provided by the Botany professor for a brief spell in December 1821 though perhaps it was best that his ham and cheese business was curtailed as he also taught anatomy and was an innovative surgeon too!
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