Sir William Wright Smith

1875 - 1956

Botanist and plant hunter. Smith was born at Parkend, near Lochmaben, in Dumfries and Galloway. The son of a farmer, he was educated at Dumfries Academy and at the University of Edinburgh. Smith joined the staff of the Botany Department in that institution in 1902. He moved to Calcutta to take charge of the Royal Botanic Garden of India in 1907. He was able to explore Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet, seeking new plant species. In 1911 he undertook the description of the extensive collections being received from other plant collectors, such as George Forrest (1873 - 1932), who were working in India and China. In 1922, Smith was appointed Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Edinburgh and later Queen's Botanist in Scotland. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1919, and served as its President (1944-49). He was knighted in 1932, and was awarded honorary degrees by the Universities of Aberdeen and Toulouse.

He died in Edinburgh. His portrait by Stanley Cursiter (1887 - 1976) is held by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

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