Don, David (DNB00)

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DON, DAVID (1800–1841), botanist, was born at Doo Hillock, Forfarshire, 21 Dec. 1800, and not, as sometimes stated, in 1779. He was the second son of George Don, who was for some time curator of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, but who retired to a nursery-garden at Doo Hillock, the family consisting in all of fifteen children. On leaving his father's nursery David was employed at Messrs. Dickson's of Broughton, near Edinburgh, and in 1819 came to London with an introduction from his father's friend, Dr. Patrick Neill, secretary to the Wernerian Society, to Robert Brown (1773–1858) [q. v.] Don was next employed in the Apothecaries' Company's garden at Chelsea, but was soon appointed keeper of the library and herbarium of A. B. Lambert, and in 1821 accompanied Dr. Neill to Paris, where he made the acquaintance of Humboldt and Cuvier. In 1822 he succeeded Brown as librarian to the Linnean Society, which post he retained until his death, and in 1823 he became an associate, and subsequently a fellow, of the society. In 1836 he was appointed professor of botany at King's College, London. He died, after eight months' illness, at the Linnean Society's house in Soho Square on 8 Dec. 1841, and was buried at Kensal Green on the 15th. He is accredited with fifty-two papers in the Royal Society's Catalogue, the first consisting of ‘Descriptions of several New or Rare Native Plants, found in Scotland,’ chiefly by his father, communicated to the Wernerian Society in 1820. Numerous valuable monographs of genera were contributed to the ‘Linnean Transactions’ and to the ‘Edinburgh Philosophical Journal,’ and for some time he acted as an editor of ‘The Annals and Magazine of Natural History.’ His chief independent work was the ‘Prodromus Floræ Nepalensis,’ London, 1825, 12mo, but the second series of Sweet's ‘British Flower Garden,’ from about 1830, was entirely conducted by him.

[Royal Society's Catalogue, ii. 312; Phytologist (1842), p. 133, with bibliography; Annals of Natural History, viii. (1842), 397, with bibliography, and 478; Florist's Journal, 1842, No. xxiv.]

G. S. B.