John Walker (naturalist)

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John Walker

John Walker (* 1731 in Edinburgh ; † 1803 ibid) was a Scottish Reformed theologian and naturalist. Its official botanical author abbreviation is " Walker ".


Walker was the son of a teacher and studied from 1746 theology at the University of Edinburgh with the conclusion of 1749. Soon after, he was supported by the Church of Scotland ordained . In addition to his work as a pastor , he dealt with nature research, took chemistry courses with William Cullen and joined the Edinburgh Philosophical Society. He studied chemistry and mineralogy and their applications in mining and agriculture, and was a scientific advisor to high-ranking nobles such as Lord Bute and Lord Kames . In 1758 he was pastor in Glencorse and in 1762 in Moffat , where he remained active until 1783. In the mid-1760s he was considered one of Scotland's leading naturalists. He went on excursions to the Highlands , having previously carried out research in the Lowlands , and was sent to visit the backward Hebrides and study the economic situation by Lord Kames , whose official report for the Society for Propagation of Christian Knowledge appeared in 1808. From 1779 he was Regius Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh, which he remained until his death. He was also the keeper of the University's Natural History Museum. In 1790 he was elected moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and thus rose to the highest dignity in the Church of Scotland.

He held lectures on meteorology, hydrology and geology as well as on mineralogy, botany and zoology, following the system of Carl von Linné in botany , but developing his own classification system for minerals. The curriculum was also the first to include lectures on agriculture at a British university. He had many important students (including Robert Brown and James Edward Smith ). Towards the end of his life he had visual problems and his lectures were increasingly taken over by his student and successor Robert Jameson .

Walker's grave, Canongate Kirkyard, Edinburgh

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1783). In 1783 he became a member of the Linnean Society of London .


  • An Economical History of the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland, 2 volumes 1808
  • Essays on Natural History and Rural Economy, 1812


  • George Taylor: John Walker: a Notable Scottish Naturalist, Trans. Bot. Soc. Edinburgh, Volume 38, 1959
  • Charles Withers: The Rev. Dr. John Walker and the Practice of Natural History in the Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland, Archives of Natural History, Volume 18, 1991

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