Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rotheram, John (1750?-1804)

ROTHERAM, JOHN (1750?–1804), professor of natural philosophy at St. Andrews, son of John Rotheram, M.D., and elder brother of Edward Rotheram [q. v.], was probably born at Hexham about 1750. He received the rudiments of his education at Newcastle grammar school, his mathematical and philosophical studies being directed by his father, assisted by Charles Hutton [q. v.], who was then a tutor in the school. He pursued his education at the university of Upsala, Sweden, graduating there, and becoming a pupil of Linnæus and Bergmann. He returned to Newcastle previous to 1770, and some years afterwards he settled in Edinburgh. When William Smellie published his ‘Philosophy of Natural History’ (2 vols. 1790–5), he attacked the botanical system of Linnæus, and Rotheram replied to Smellie's strictures in a pamphlet which attracted some notice. In 1793 he became coadjutor to Professor Joseph Black in the chemistry chair at Edinburgh University. In November 1795 he was elected professor of natural philosophy at St. Andrews University. Here he discharged his duties with diligence and credit. He died at St. Andrews of apoplexy on 6 Nov. 1804. He is described as ‘a man of very extensive learning.’ His published works were: 1. ‘A Philosophical Inquiry into the Nature and Properties of Water,’ 1770. 2. ‘Sexes of the Plants Vindicated, against William Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History,’ 1790. 3. ‘Edinburgh New Dispensatory,’ 1794. He edited in 1797, from a manuscript in St. Andrew's University Library, George Martine's ‘Reliquiæ Divi Andreæ.’

[Gent. Mag. 1804 ii. 1079, 1830 ii. 565; Scots Mag. lvii. 750, lxvi. 888; Allibone's Dict. ii. 1877; Dundee Advertiser, 23 Nov. 1804.]

A. H. M.