|Robert Morison (1620-1683)|
Born in 1620 in Aberdeen, Scotland, as son of John Morison by his wife Anna Gray, Robert Morison was an outstanding scholar who gained his Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen at the age of eighteen. He devoted himself at first to mathematics, and studied Hebrew, being intended by his parents for the ministry; but his attachment to the royalist cause led him to bear arms. During the English Civil War he joined the Royalist Cavaliers and was seriously wounded at the 1639 Battle of the Bridge of Dee during the Civil War. On recovering he fled to France when it became apparent that the cause was lost.
In France he applied himself to the study of anatomy, zoology, botany, mineralogy, and chemistry, studying Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and the best commentators, and in 1648 he took a doctorate in medicine at the University of Angers in Western France and from then on devoted himself entirely to the study of botany. On the recommendation of his tutor Vespasian Robin, the French king's botanist, he was received into the household of Gaston, Duke of Orleans, in 1649 or 1650, as one of his physicians, and as a colleague of Abel Bruyner and Nicholas Marchant, the keepers of the duke's garden at Blois, a post which he subsequently held for ten years. He was sent by the Duke to Montpellier, Fontainebleau, Burgundy, Poitou, Brittany, Languedoc, and Provence in search of new plants, and seems to have explained to his patron his views on classification.
In 1660, despite inducements to make him stay in France, Morison returned to England at the invitation of the newly restored Charles II, where he became royal physician and Professor of Botany in Oxford in 1669. One of his first publications for the newly revived University Press was the Hortus Regius Blesensis (1669), the catalogue of the Blois garden to which Morison added the description of 260 previously un-described plants, although later many were considered only varieties and others were already well known.
|Illustration from |
Plantarum Umbelliferarum Distributio Nova
"Morison was vain, yet he cannot be sufficiently praised for having revived a system which was half expiring. If you look through Tournefort's genera you will readily admit how much he owes to Morison, full as much as the latter was indebted to Cesalpino, though Tournefort himself was a conscientious investigator. All that is good in Morison is taken from Cesalpino, from whose guidance he wanders in pursuit of natural affinities rather than of characters."Morison was fatally injured by the pole of a carriage as he was crossing the street on 9 Nov. 1683 and died the following day.
At yovisto, you can learn more about botany in the video lecture on 'Human Livelihoods Depend on Wild Flowers: Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank explained'.
-  “Morison, Robert,” in Dictionary of National Biography, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., (1885–1900) in 63 vols.
-  Robert Morison at the Edward Worth Library
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