Roxburgh, William, 1751-1815

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William Roxburgh was born at Underwood, Craigie, in Ayrshire, on 3 June 1751. He was educated at the village school and then studied botany at Edinburgh University. In 1766 he became a surgeon's mate on a vessel of the East India Company and made several voyages to India before being appointed as an Assistant Surgeon in Chennai (then known as Madras), working in the General Hospital in the city. He became a full Surgeon in 1780 and was stationed in Samulcotta in 1781. There he began cultivating plants and making a large botanical collection which he sketched and made notes on their local use. Roxburgh became the East India Company's botanist in Karnataka. In 1791 he began sending plants back to Britain and by 1794 nearly five hundred had been sent. Many of these were selected by Sir Joseph Banks for the richly illustrated volume Plants of the Coast of the Coromandel 1795. In 1793, Roxburgh became Superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden. In 1813 his health failed him and he retired to Capetown, South Africa, and then to St. Helena, and finally to England. William Roxburgh died in Edinburgh on 18 February 1815.

From the guide to the Drawings of a Collection of East Indian Plants, 19th century, (Edinburgh University Library)

Epithet: Dr; Curator of the Botanical Gardens at Calcutta; botanist; surgeon

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000244.0x000103

Epithet: MD; of Add MS 33977

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000244.0x000116

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta Index, ca. 1830 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Drawings of a Collection of East Indian Plants, 19th century Edinburgh University Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Archives. Record Group IIa, 1743-1806 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Roxburgh, William, 1751-1815. A botanical description and drawing of a new species of Swietenia (mahogany) [manuscript] : with experiments and observations on the powers of its bark comparing them with those of the Peruvian bark for which it is proposed as a succedaneum. McGill University Library
referencedIn Vol II. (ff. 284). 15 Jan. 1785-28 Dec. 1789.includes:f. 1 Heuser?, King's Contmissary of the Royal Society of Agriculture of Paris: Letter to Sir J. Banks: 1785. f. 3 Sir Thomas Hyde Page, military engineer: Letter to Sir J. Banks: 1785. ff. 7, 13... British Library
referencedIn Vol. IV. (ff. 329). 9 Jan. 1795-20 Dec. 1801. Included are:-Copy of the will of John Sibthorp, M.D., Regius Professor of Botany at Oxford, 12 Jan. 1796. f. 49;-Account of an earthquake at Nottingham in Nov. 1795. f. 20.includes:f. 1 John Murray: Lett... British Library
referencedIn Vol. 1. (ff. 283). 14 June, 1765-26 Dec. 1784. Included is " Mr. Foster's rout from Jumboo in the Northern Mountains of Hindustan to Astrachan in Russia, 17 Apr.. 1783-29 Jan. 1784." f. 260.includes:ff. 1, 183, 205, 279 Patrick Russell, MD: Letters t... British Library
referencedIn Vol. III. (ff. 295). 7 Jan. 1790-30 Dec. 1794.includes:ff. 1, 26, 127, 135, 141, 233, 241 Helenus Scott, MD: Letters to Sir J. Banks: 1790-1801. ff. 14,15,69,84,86, 113, 121 Alexander Duncan: Letters to Sir J. Banks: 1788-1796. f. 17 George Parker:... British Library
creatorOf Roxburgh, William, 1751-1815. Descriptions and drawings of Indian palms / by W. D. Roxburgh ; containing the originals of the plates of palms published in his Plant of the Coast of Coromandel Natural History Museum
referencedIn Drawings of a Collection of East Indian Plants, 19th century Edinburgh University Library
referencedIn Vol. V. (ff. 303). 11 Feb. 1802-16 Dec. 1809. Included are letters from Christopher Towill on his invention of a lifeboat; Teignmouth, 22 June, 26 Sept. 1805. With plans. ff. 208-220.includes:f. 3 General Charles Vallancey, antiquary: Letters to Sir ... British Library
referencedIn LETTERS from various writers, chiefly addressed to George Annesley, Viscount Valentia, during his botanical tour in India, in the years 1802-1804, viz.: Dr. Thomas Moffat, ff. 1, 3; Lieut. G. V. Baines, ff. 5, 16; Michael Atkinson, f. 10; D. Moffat,..., 1802-1804 British Library
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associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Roxburgh William 1751-1815 person
associatedWith Royal Botanic Garden (Calcutta, India) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
India, Asia
India, Asia
Jamaica, Central America
India, Asia
Mannheim, Baden
Dublin, Ireland
Botany--Early works to 1800
Mahogany--Early works to 1800


Birth 1751-06-29

Death 1815-04-10



Ark ID: w6sb5qkm

SNAC ID: 41889143