Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Copland, Patrick

COPLAND, PATRICK, LL.D. (1749–1822), naturalist, was born in 1749 at the manse of Fintray, Aberdeenshire, where his father was minister, and elected professor of natural philosophy in Marischal College and University, Aberdeen, in 1775. In 1779 he was transferred to the chair of mathematics, but in 1817 was again appointed to his former chair, which he held till his death (10 Nov. 1822). He enjoyed considerable local reputation as a teacher; but his claim to notice lies in the pains he took to form a collection of models and other apparatus suitable for a museum of natural philosophy. Hardly anything of this kind was known in the north of Scotland; but by means of assistance from the Board of Trustees and Manufactures, he contrived to form a valuable collection, travelling on the continent for information, and doing not a little by his own mechanical skill, and by directing and superintending his workmen. This service looks but small in the light of our vast modern museums of science and art, our international exhibitions, and illustrated scientific journals; but to Copland belongs the credit of having discovered a want, and done what he could in his circumstances to supply it. Copland was also among the first to extend the knowledge of science beyond academic circles by means of a popular course of natural philosophy.

[Anderson's Scottish Nation; Kennedy's Annals of Aberdeen, vol. ii.]

W. G. B.