Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lindsay, William Lauder

LINDSAY, WILLIAM LAUDER (1829–1880), botanist, eldest son of James Lindsay of H.M. Sasine Office, Register House, Edinburgh, by his wife Helen, daughter of Captain Lauder, was born at Edinburgh on 19 Dec. 1829. He was educated at the royal high school, where he was medallist, or dux, of his class in 1844, and again in 1845. He afterwards entered the university of Edinburgh. Although he worked as a clerk in the Register House during the whole of his medical course, he obtained several university prizes, including the medal and first prizes in botany, and other distinctions, found means of collecting a valuable herbarium, and on graduating M.D. in 1852 obtained the highest honours (three stars) for his thesis on the ‘Anatomy, Morphology, and Physiology of the Lichens.’ In 1854, after serving for a year as resident physician of the City Cholera Hospital, Edinburgh, and subsequently as assistant physician in the Crichton Royal Institution, Dumfries, he was appointed medical officer to Murray's Royal Institution for the Insane at Perth. There he combined geological with botanical researches, but made lichens his special study, and published in 1856 his valuable text-book on ‘The History of British Lichens,’ with numerous plates, constituting a first attempt to popularise the subject. For his work in this department of botany he received in 1859 the first Neill gold medal from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1861–2 he visited New Zealand, and received from the New Zealand Exhibition of 1865 a silver medal in recognition of his botanical researches, the fruit of which appeared in 1868 in his ‘Contributions to New Zealand Botany.’ Similar visits to North Germany, Norway, and Iceland were followed in like manner by studies of the flora of those countries. In 1870 Lindsay published his important ‘Memoirs on the Spermogenes and Pycnides of Lichens,’ to which is appended a list of thirty-three contributions to lichenology by the author, which had appeared for the most part either in the ‘Journal of Microscopical Science’ or in the ‘Transactions’ of the Linnean and Royal (Edinburgh) Societies. All the drawings illustrating his works were made by himself. Besides these botanical papers Lindsay published a host of pamphlets on mental disease and other medical subjects, and also on education. His last work, on ‘Mind in the Lower Animals in Health and Disease,’ 1879, which aimed at showing the similarity of mental processes in man and the lower animals, was his best. Lindsay was a great and omnivorous reader, and a most energetic worker. He died at his residence, 3 Hartington Gardens, Edinburgh, on 24 Nov. 1880. Lindsay married, on 26 April 1859, Elizabeth, only daughter of William Paterson Reid, solicitor, of Demerara. One daughter, Marion Jane Robertson, married Dr. Francis Haultain of Edinburgh.

[Information kindly supplied by Dr. Murray Lindsay, medical superintendent of the Derby County Asylum; Lancet, 1880, ii. 916; Nature, xxiii. 131; Steven's Hist. of the High School, Edinburgh; Proceedings Linnean Soc. 1880–2; Lindsay's Works in Brit. Mus. Library.]

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