(2 vols. Lond. 1809, 12mo), was compiled at Huntspill in 1808–9, and dedicated to Lord Erskine. On its completion he left his native place, and his relatives never received any communication from him afterwards, so that it is not known how he subsisted from November 1809 till his death, which took place in the Marylebone infirmary in February 1811.
[Biog. Dict. of Living Authors (1816), 48; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. i. 325, iii. 1564; Monthly Mag. xlii. 311; Watt's Bibl. Brit. under ‘Burnet;’ Cottle's Recollections of Coleridge, i. 6, 246.]
BURNETT, GILBERT THOMAS (1800–1835), botanist, was born on 15 April 1800, his father, Gilbert Burnett, a London surgeon, being a descendant of Bishop Burnet. He was educated by Dr. Benson at Hounslow Heath. Commencing medical study at the age of fifteen, he made medical botany his favourite pursuit, at a time when, in his own words, ‘the study entailed both on teacher and on pupil sarcasm and contempt.’ Soon after commencing practice as a surgeon he gave lectures on medical and general botany in the Great Windmill Street School of Medicine, and was made honorary professor to the Medico-Botanical Society. Becoming a popular lecturer, he frequently lectured at the Royal Institution, and gave a regular course at St. George's Hospital. On the opening of King's College, London, in 1831, he was chosen the first professor of botany, and was very zealous and successful as a teacher. He published in 1835 ‘Outlines of Botany,’ in 2 vols., written in too diffuse a style, having previously edited Stephenson and Churchill's ‘Medical Botany,’ in 3 vols. In 1835 he was elected professor of botany to the Apothecaries' Society, and gave a course of thirty lectures at their Chelsea garden; but it had scarcely ended when he died, worn out by multiplied literary, lecturing, and professional labours, on 27 July 1835. A large series of ‘Illustrations of Useful Plants employed in the Arts and Medicine,’ in 4 vols. 4to, beautifully drawn and coloured by his sister, M. A. Burnett, with text chiefly by Gilbert Burnett, was published (1840–9) after his death. Slight and delicate in person, with dark and sparkling eyes, Burnett was most vivacious and interesting in style, modest and prepossessing in manners, accurate and precise, yet endowed with exquisite sensibility, and enthusiastic for his science.
Besides the above works, Burnett published two ‘King's College Introductory Lectures,’ 1832 (British Museum, King's College Lectures), and numerous papers in the ‘Journal of the Royal Institution’ and ‘Quarterly Journal of Science,’ 1828–30.
[Annual Biography and Obituary (1836), 264–75.]
BURNETT, JAMES, Lord Monboddo (1714–1799), Scotch judge, was the eldest surviving son of James Burnett of Monboddo, Kincardineshire, by Elizabeth his wife, the only daughter of Sir William Forbes of Craigievar, bart. He was born in October or November 1714 at Monboddo, and was at first educated at home under the guidance of Dr. Francis Skene. Upon the appointment of his tutor to the chair of philosophy at the Marischal College, Aberdeen, Burnett accompanied him thither. Here he zealously prosecuted the study of Greek philosophy, for which he retained a passionate attachment during the whole of his life. From Aberdeen he went to Edinburgh University. Having determined to adopt the bar as his profession, he afterwards went to the university of Gröningen and remained there for three years, studying the civil law. He then returned to Edinburgh, and, after passing his civil law examination on 12 Feb. 1737, was five days afterwards admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates. During the temporary cessation of business owing to the rebellion of 1745, Burnett paid a visit to London, where he made the acquaintance of many of the literary characters of the day, including Thomson the poet, Lord Lyttelton, Dr. Armstrong, and Mallet. The share which he took in conducting the celebrated Douglas cause brought him into prominent notice at the bar. Thrice he went to France in the prosecution of this case; the pleadings before the court of sessions lasted thirty-one days. In 1764 he was made sheriff of Kincardineshire. After a brilliant and successful career as an advocate, on 12 Feb. 1767 he succeeded Andrew Fletcher, Lord Milton, as an ordinary lord of session, and thereupon assumed the title of Lord Monboddo. It is said that he refused a seat in the court of justiciary, on the ground that the further work which it would have entailed would have prevented him pursuing his favourite studies in the vacation. In his judicial capacity he showed himself to be both a profound lawyer and an upright judge, and his decisions were free from those paradoxes which so frequently appeared in his writings as well as in his conversation. He was not, however, without peculiarities, even in the court of sessions, for instead of sitting on the bench with his fellow-judges, he always took his seat underneath with the clerks. Nor was he as a rule inclined to agree with his colleagues