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David Douglas, 1798–1834

    Naturevolume 134page803 (1934) | Download Citation



    A BOTANICAL collector and explorer in many British territories, David Douglas, the Scottish naturalist, was born at Scone, near Perth, in 1798, and of humble parentage. To his zealous efforts are due the introduction into England from time to time of numbers of new trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, comprising hundreds of species. Much valuable information, in addition, was derived from him respecting the characteristics of the lands (some hitherto unexplored) that he visited. Douglas in early life began a seven year's gardening apprenticeship with the Earl of Mansfield, at Scone. On its completion, he worked at the Botanic Garden, Glasgow, where his abilities attracted the notice of Dr. W. J. Hooker, then professor of botany in the University of Glasgow, who took him as companion in journeys through the Western Highlands. In 1823, Hooker recommended Douglas to the Royal Horti cultural Society of London, for botanical exploration work in North America, and under the Society's auspices he pursued this mission until the year 1827. Various and successive travels followed down to 1833. From California he penetrated northward into Russian America (Alaska) in one of these. Early in 1834, Douglas was at San Francisco and thence he embarked for the Sandwich Islands; in May of that year, he wrote home to Capt. Sabine giving accounts of journeys to the summits of the mountains and volcanoes. In November 1834 news reached England that on July 12, previously, Douglas had lost his life in an unfrequented track through the attack of a bullock. A monument exists at Honolulu recalling the fatality and Douglas's services to science.

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