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David Don

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Credit for this entry to:
Andrew Behan.

David Don

Person  Male  Born 21/12/1799  Died 8/12/1841

Categories: Science

Countries: Scotland

David Don was born on 21 December 1799 at Doo Hillock, Forfar, Angus, Scotland, a son of George Don (1764-1814) and Caroline Clementina Don née Stuart. His father was a curator at the Royal Botanic Garden, Leith Walk, Edinburgh. He was baptised in Forfar on 26 December 1799.

He came to London in 1819 and initially worked as a librarian for the botanist Aylmer Bourke Lambert. In 1821 he visited Paris, France, where he met many prominent scientists of the age before becoming the librarian of the Linnean Society of London in 1822. He was made an associate of the society the following year and was a Professor of Botany at King's College, London from 1836.

He described several of the major conifers discovered in the period, including first descriptions of Coast Redwood (Taxodium sempervirens D. Don; now Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) Endl.), Bristlecone Fir (Pinus bracteata D. Don, now Abies bracteata (D. Don) A. Poit.), Grand Fir (Pinus grandis Douglas ex D. Don; now Abies grandis (Douglas ex D. Don) Lindl) and Coulter Pine (Pinus coulteri D. Don), and was the first to treat Sugi (Cupressus japonica Thunb.; now Cryptomeria japonica (Thunb.) D. Don) in a new genus. He also named the orchid genus Pleione in 1825.

Whilst the librarian to the botanist Aylmer Bourke Lambert he compiled for him, Prodromus florae nepalensis ... London, J. Gale, 1825, based on collections made by the botanists Francis Hamilton and Nathaniel Wallich of the Culcutta Botanic Garden. As we could find no image of David Don we have shown an image of this publication.

On 15 April 1837 in the Parish Church of St Anne, Soho, he married Mary Evans (1788/9–1864) and the 1841 census shows them living at 32 Soho Square, Westminster, giving his occupation as a librarian. He died from cancer, aged 41 years, on 8 December 1841 and was buried on 15 December 1841 in the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green (now known as Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, London, W10 4RL).

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David Don

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