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Rennie, James (DNB00)

RENNIE, JAMES (1787–1867), naturalist, born 26 Feb. 1787, appears to have been the natural son of Thomas Rennie (or Rainey) of Aldenholme, Sorn, Ayrshire, by Margaret Edwards. He matriculated at Glasgow University in 1810, and gained prizes in logic, ethics, mathematics, and natural philosophy. He won prizes for essays on a ‘Comparative View of the Huttonian and Wernerian Systems of Geology,’ on ‘Improvements in the Art of Bleaching,’ and the ‘Application of Steam to the Purposes of Navigation.’ He graduated M.A. on 20 July 1815, and took holy orders. In 1821 he removed to London, and on 30 Nov. 1830 was appointed professor of natural history at King's College. The chair was, however, abolished on 1 Aug. 1834, owing to a dearth of students in the subject. Subsequently Rennie engaged in literary work without much pecuniary success. He set sail for New South Wales in 1840, and afterwards settled in South Australia. He died at Adelaide on 25 Aug. 1867.

Rennie was author of:

  1. ‘Insect Architecture’ [anon.], 12mo, London, 1830.
  2. ‘Insect Transformations’ [anon.], 12mo, London, 1830.
  3. ‘Insect Miscellanies’ [anon.], 12mo, London, 1831.
  4. ‘The Architecture of Birds’ [anon.], 12mo, London, 1831—reissued as ‘Bird Architecture,’ 1844.
  5. ‘Alphabet of Insects,’ 8vo, London, 1832.
  6. ‘A Conspectus of the Butterflies and Moths found in Britain,’ 8vo, London, 1832.
  7. ‘Notes of a Naturalist’ in ‘Time's Telescope,’ vols. xix.–xxi., 8vo, London, 1832–4.
  8. ‘Alphabet of Physics,’ 8vo, London, 1833.
  9. ‘Alphabet of Zoology,’ 8vo, London, 1833.
  10. ‘Alphabet of Scientific Angling,’ 8vo, London, 1833.
  11. ‘Alphabet of Scientific Gardening,’ 8vo, London, 1833; another edit. 1850.
  12. ‘Alphabet of Botany,’ 12mo, London, 1833; new edit. 1836.
  13. ‘The Domestic Habits of Birds,’ 12mo, London, 1833.
  14. ‘The Hand-book of plain Botany,’ &c., 16mo, London, 1834; 2nd edit. 1845; 3rd edit. 1857; 4th edit., enlarged by the Rev. J. G. Wood, 1869.
  15. ‘The Hand-book of Allotment Agriculture,’ 16mo, London, 1834.
  16. ‘Alphabet of Natural Theology,’ 8vo, London, 1834.
  17. ‘Alphabet of Medical Botany,’ 8vo, London, 1834.
  18. ‘The Hand-book of Gardening,’ 12mo, London, 1834.
  19. ‘The Faculties of Birds,’ 12mo, London, 1835.
  20. ‘The Menageries: the Natural History of Monkeys,’ &c. [anon.], 12mo, London, 1838.
  21. ‘Bird Miscellanies,’ 12mo, London, 1847.
  22. ‘Familiar Introduction to Botany,’ 16mo, London, 1849.

He also edited:

  1. ‘Montague's Ornithological Dictionary of British Birds … 2nd edit., with original observations by J. Rennie,’ 8vo, London, 1831.
  2. ‘The Magazine of Botany and Gardening,’ 2 vols. 4to, London, 1833–4.
  3. ‘The Field Naturalist,’ 2 vols. 8vo, London (1833–) 1835.
  4. ‘Walton's Compleat Angler,’ 1836.

[Information kindly supplied by the Rev. M. C. Begg, Mauchline, N.B.; W. J. Addison, of Glasgow University, and J. W. Cunningham, King's College, London; Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Sept. 1867; Athenæum, 30 Nov. 1867, p. 728; Brit. Mus. Cat. and Royal Soc. Cat.]

B. B. W.