Alston, Charles (DNB00)

ALSTON, CHARLES (1683–1760), scientific writer, was born at Eddlewood, and educated at Glasgow. On his father's death the Duchess of Hamilton took him under her patronage, and wished him to study law; but he preferred to turn his attention to medicine. He went to Leyden to study under Boerhaave, where he made the acquaintance of Dr. Alexander Monro. On the return of the two to Edinburgh, they revived the medical lectures in the university, Alston being appointed lecturer in botany and materia medica, and also (1716) superintendent of the botanical gardens: these posts he held until his death, which took place 22 Nov. 1760. He was the author of various medical papers, as well as of an index of the plants in the Edinburgh garden (1740), which is preceded by a Latin introduction to botany, and of ‘Tirocinium Botanicum Edinburgense’ (1753), in which he attacked the Linnæan system of classification. His lectures on materia medica were prepared for publication after his death by his friend and successor, Dr. J. Hope, and appeared in two 4to volums in 1770. Robert Brown dedicated to him the apocyneous genus ‘Alstonia.’

[Pulteney's Sketches of Progress of Botany (1790), ii. 9–16; Rees's Cyclopædia.]

J. B.