Gibson, Alexander (1800-1867) (DNB00)

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GIBSON, ALEXANDER (1800–1867), botanist, was born at Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire, on 24 Oct. 1800. After taking his degree of doctor of medicine at Edinburgh, he obtained an appointment as assistant-surgeon in the East India Company's service in January 1825, in which year he went out to India, and served some years in the Indian navy. While thus engaged he studied the native languages, and passed examinations in Hindustani, Mahrati, and Gujerati. In 1836 he was appointed vaccinator for the Deccan and Kandesh, and while in this migratory office his knowledge of botany and agriculture procured him in 1838 the post of superintendent of the botanical garden at Dapuri. Here Dr. Gibson paid special attention to the introduction and cultivation of exotic trees and plants, and his successful efforts to procure several drugs for the use of the medical department received special commendation from the court of directors. In 1847 he was promoted to the more important post of conservator of forests in the Bombay presidency, and for fourteen years he rendered invaluable service to the government in this capacity. Among other qualifications he possessed an iron constitution, which enabled him, in the discharge of his duties, to penetrate and to live in jungles which would have been fatal to most Europeans. His reports were collected and published by the government, and on his retirement in 1860 he received from the governor in council a public acknowledgment of his unremitting zeal, and of the beneficial results which the measures conducted under his direction had secured to the state. He was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society on 19 April 1853, and died on 16 Jan. 1867. His works were: 1. ‘Forest Reports, Bombay Presidency,’ Bombay, 1849–1855, 8vo. 2. ‘Handbook to the Forests of the Bombay Presidency,’ Bombay, 1863, 8vo. 3. ‘Bombay Flora,’ ed. by N. A. Dalzell, Bombay, 1861, 8vo. He also edited Hove's ‘Tours for Scientific Research’ from a manuscript in the Banksian Library, Bombay, 1855, 8vo.

[Proc. Linn. Soc. 1866–7, p. 33.]

B. D. J.