White, Francis Buchanan White (DNB00)

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WHITE, FRANCIS BUCHANAN WHITE (1842–1894), botanist and entomologist, born at Perth, 20 March 1842, was the eldest son of Francis White. Educated at a school attached to St. Ninian's Cathedral, and by a private tutor, in his native own, he entered the university of Edinburgh in 1860, and in 1864 graduated M.D., his thesis being 'On the Relations, Analogies, and Similitudes of Insects and Plants.' After his marriage in 1866 he spent nearly a year on the continent, and then settled in Perth, passing several months, however, almost every year, in some part of Scotland the natural history of which he wished to study. Being independent of his profession, he devoted himself entirely to the study of plants and animals, his contributions to the 'Entomologist's Weekly Intelligencer' beginning as early as 1857. Devoted throughout his life to the study of the Lepidoptera, investigating their distribution, variation, and structure, he from 1869 made a special study of the Hemiptera, collecting specimens of this group of insects from all parts of the world. In botany he devoted much attention to local distribution, altitude, and life-histories, and to 'critical' groups, such as the willows; and it was his desire for extreme accuracy and thoroughness that delayed the publication of his 'Flora of Perthshire' until after his death. In 1867 he joined in founding the Perthshire Society of Natural Science, of which he was president from 1867 to 1872 and from 1884 to 1892, secretary from 1872 to 1874, and editor from 1874 to 1884 and from 1892 to 1894. His communications to this society, many of which are printed in its 'Proceedings' and 'Transactions,' number a hundred, and it is by following the scheme mapped out in his presidential addresses that the museum of this society at Perth has become recognised as a model for all local museums. In 1871 he induced the society to establish 'The Scottish Naturalist' a magazine which he carried on until 1882, but which was afterwards merged in the 'Annals of Scottish Natural History.' White, who had great powers of endurance as a mountaineer and was very fond of alpine plants, initiated the Perthshire Mountain Club as an offshoot from the Society of Natural Science; and in 1874 he was one of the founders of the Cryptogamic Society of Scotland, of which he acted as secretary. He was one of the first to recognise the need for co-operation among local natural history societies, and, acting on this conviction, brought about the East of Scotland Union of Naturalists' Societies, over which he presided at its first meeting, which was held at Dundee in 1884. He died at his residence, Annat Lodge, Perth, 3 Dec. 1894, and was buried in the Wellshill cemetery, Perth. White married Margaret Juliet, daughter of Thomas Corrie of Steilston, Dumfries, who survives him. He had been a member of the Entomological Society of London from 1868, and of the Linnean Society from 1873. A bronze mural memorial to him has been erected in the Perth Museum, and a stained-glass window in St. Ninian's Cathedral.

In addition to his numerous papers contributed to the 'Entomologist's Monthly Magazine,' the 'Journal of Botany,' the 'Transactions of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh,' and the journals already mentioned. White's writings include articles on a cockroach, the earwig, ants, the bee, locusts, and grasshoppers in 'Science for All' (vols. iii-v.); a 'Report on Pelagic Hemiptera, collected by H.M.S. Challenger,' in the seventh volume of the 'Reports' of that expedition, pp. 82, with three plates, written in 1883; and a 'Revision of the British Willows,' in the 'Journal of the Linnean Society' for 1889 (vol. xxvii.) His views on the latter group are also represented by a classification in the 'London Catalogue of British Plants' ninth edition, 1895, an arrangement characterised by a wide recognition of the existence of hybridism among these plants. His separate publications were: 'Fauna Perthensis—Lepidoptera' 1871, a small quarto monograph, intended as the first of a series, but not continued; and 'The Flora of Perthshire,' Edinburgh, 1898, with a portrait and full bibliography.

[Memoir, by Professor James W. H. Trail, prefixed to White's Flora of Perthshire.]

G. S. B.