Sir Robert Sibbald

1641 - 1722

Physician, geographer and natural historian. Although born in Edinburgh, the family fled to Linlithgow in 1645 to avoid the plague. Sibbald witnessed the sacking of Dundee by General Monk in 1651. He was educated initially in Cupar, near the family estate, and later at the High School and University in Edinburgh.

After returning from medical studies on the continent, Sibbald established the first botanical garden in Edinburgh (1670), along with Andrew Balfour (1630-94). He was the first Professor of Medicine at the University, a founder of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh (1681) and was appointed physician to King Charles II (1682) and King James VII (1685). He was also the first Geoographer-Royal for Scotland. He wrote books on the topography of Fife and Stirlingshire, and drew on the work of others such as Adair, Martin and Pont to contribute to various works on Scotland, although his own Scottish Atlas was never published.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh created a small physic garden at their Queen Street premises in 1996 as a tribute to Sibbald, with the help of staff from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. He is also remembered by Sibbald Walk, an entrance and pedestrian street through the New Waverley development created to the north of Edinburgh's Royal Mile in 2017.

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