Dickson, Alexander (1836-1887) (DNB00)

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DICKSON, ALEXANDER (1836–1887), botanist, descended from a family long the proprietors of Kilbucho, Lanarkshire, and Hartree, Peeblesshire, was born in Edinburgh on 21 Feb. 1836, and graduated in medicine at Edinburgh University in 1860. He had previously written some papers for the ' Transactions of the Edinburgh Botanical Society,' and he was selected in 1862 to lecture on botany at Aberdeen University during the illness of Professor George Dickie [q. v.] Having continued to studv and write upon the development and morphology of flowers, Dickson was appointed professor of botany at Dublin University on the death of Dr. Harvey. In 1868 he became professor of botany at Glasgow, and in 1879 he succeeded Dr. J. H. Balfour in the botanical chair at Edinburgh, and as regius keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden. He was a successful lecturer, having a very attractive and kind manner; an excellent draughtsman and field botanist, and a skilled musician and collector of Gaelic airs. He was also a generous and improving landlord. He died suddenly, of heart disease, during an interval of a curling match, in which he was a leading player, at Thriepland Pond, near Hartree, where he was spending the Christmas vacation, on 30 Dec. 1887. Dickson's very numerous papers on botany were published in the 'Transactions of the Edinburgh Botanical Society,' 'Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal,' 'Proceeding' and 'Transactions of Royal Society, Edinburgh,' and 'Journal of Botany.' Many of them are of considerable morphological value, but Dickson was essentially a cautious botanist. He also contributed a paper 'On Consanguineous Marriages viewed in the light of Comparative Physiology ' to the 'Glasgow Medical Journal,' iv. 1872. He was hon. M.D. Dublin, LL.D. Glasgow, F.R.S. Edinb., and had been twice president of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh.

[Scotsman, 81 Dec. 1887, 6 Jan. 1888; Nature, 6 Jan. 1888; Athenæum, 14 Jan. 1888.]

G. T. B.