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Graham, Professor Robert

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Graham, Professor Robert

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  • Robert Graham

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Born Stirling 1786, died Perthshire 1845
Robert Graham graduated from Edinburgh University in 1808 and was licensed by the Royal College of Surgeons in that year, securing an appointment at Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1812. There he gave occasional lectures on botany and in 1818 became the first professor of botany at Glasgow University. In 1820 he was appointed Regius Professor of medicine and botany at Edinburgh University and keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden and King’s botanist (a post he held until his death in 1845), and was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1821. As Keeper of the Botanic Garden, Graham was responsible for establishing a new botanical garden on a 14 acre site in Inverleith Row to replace the one in Leith Walk. Over a period of two years he supervised the removal of all trees, shrubs and plants to the new site, sometimes subsidising the wages and expenses of the garden from his own pocket. In 1834 the largest palm house in Britain was opened at the Inverleith garden. In 1836 Graham became the first president of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh and in 1840 was made president of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. He was a popular lecturer, the first to lecture on botany during the winter months, and was the author of numerous papers on new species of plants, many grown in the Garden. He travelled widely collecting plants through Britain, Jersey and Ireland and embarked on, but never completed, a flora of Great Britain.
Sources: Dictionary of National Biography; R. Desmond ‘Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturalists; HR Fletcher and WH Brown ‘The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 1670-1970’; Deni Bown, ‘4 Gardens in One’.


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