Saturday, 9 October 2010

Lists of Orkney Plants by Dr. John T. Boswell-Syme

For all you nature lovers, here's an interesting addition to our Archive.

It is a booklet of three letters containing lists of Orkney Plants written by Dr. John Thomas Boswell-Syme in 1850. They include comments about the places where he has seen the plants in Orkney and elsewhere in Scotland.
Letter 1a) from Swanbister, Orkney, 25th December 1850
Letter 1b) from 84 Great King Street, Edinburgh, 21st August 1850
Letter 1c) from 84 Great King Street, Edinburgh, 24th September 1850

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (which is available through the library website) John Thomas Irvine Boswell, (1822–1888), botanist, was born John Thomas Irvine Boswell Syme at 4 Queen Street, Edinburgh, on 1 December 1822, the son of Patrick Syme (1774-1845), a flower painter of repute, and Elizabeth, daughter of Claud Irvine Boswell of Balmuto. Both his parents were keen naturalists and gave him every encouragement to collect plants, insects, and shells.

In 1849 Syme spent a holiday with relations in Orkney, and the following winter he read a paper about his finds there to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh. He made such an impression that he was appointed honorary curator of the society's herbarium.

If you are interested in seeing more, our archive reference is D1/1088/1.

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