Johnston, George (1797-1855) (DNB00)

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JOHNSTON, GEORGE (1797–1855), naturalist, was born at Simprin, Berwickshire, on 20 July 1797. In his infancy his family removed to Ilderton in Northumberland. Johnston was educated first at Kelso, then at Berwick grammar school, and finally at the university of Edinburgh. He was apprenticed to Dr. Abercrombie, and in 1817, qualifying as a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, he went to London, but in 1818 he began for life practice at Berwick. In 1819 he graduated M.D. of Edinburgh, and in 1824 became F.R.C.S.E. He was thrice mayor of Berwick, and became LL.D. of Aberdeen. He retired from practice in 1853, and died at Berwick on 30 July 1855.

Johnston's works display a wide sympathy with nature, great power of observation, caution in inference, and fluency and poetical feeling in style. He was one of the founders of the Ray Society and of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, and was from 1837 one of the editors of the ‘Magazine of Zoology and Botany,’ afterwards the ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural History.’ To that periodical, to the ‘Edinburgh Philosophical Journal,’ to Loudon's ‘Magazine of Natural History,’ to the ‘Transactions of the Natural History Society of Newcastle,’ and to the ‘Proceedings of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club,’ he contributed an aggregate of ninety papers (cf. Royal Society's Catalogue, vols. iii. and viii.). His chief independent works were:

  1. ‘Inaugural Dissertation,’ Edinburgh, 1819.
  2. ‘Flora of Berwick-upon-Tweed,’ 12mo, vol. i., 1829, vol. ii., dealing with cryptogams, 1831.
  3. ‘Address to the Inhabitants of Berwick on Cholera,’ 1832, 8vo.
  4. ‘History of British Zoophytes,’ from the ‘Transactions of the Newcastle Natural History Society,’ 1838, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1847.
  5. ‘The Molluscous Animals,’ in the English edition of Cuvier's ‘Animal Kingdom,’ 1840, 8vo.
  6. ‘The History of British Sponges and Lithophytes,’ 1842, 8vo.
  7. ‘Introduction to Conchology,’ 1850, 8vo, reprinted from Loudon's ‘Magazine,’ in which it bore the title ‘Natural History of Molluscous Animals.’
  8. ‘Terra Lindisfarnensis: the Natural History of the Eastern Borders, vol. i., Botany, with the popular names and uses of the plants, and the customs and beliefs which have been associated with them,’ 1853, 8vo (no more published).
  9. ‘Catalogue of the British non-parasitical Worms in the Collection of the British Museum,’ completed just before Johnston's death, but not published by the trustees until 1865.
  10. ‘Catalogus animalium et plantarum quæ in insula Lindisfarnensi visa sunt mense Maio, 1854,’ printed in the ‘Proceedings of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club,’ 1873, vii. 46.

[Gent. Mag. 1855, pt. ii. p. 323; Proceedings of Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, iii. 202, with bibliography, p. 215.]

G. S. B.