Lectures and Papers of Professor Daniel Rutherford (1749-1819), and Diary of Mrs. Harriet Rutherford

Scope and Content

The collection includes: circa 46-academic essays on medical subjects proposed by Rutherford, circa 1788-1790, at Dc.5.10; clinical cases, 1797-98, at Dc.7.117, ff. 45-118; notes of lectures on botany, May 1790, at Gen. 786D; notes of lectures on botany, 1801, at Dc.5.121; and, a diary of Rutherford's wife, Mrs. Harriet Rutherford, 1802-1808, at Gen. 787D.

Administrative / Biographical History

Physician and botanist, Daniel Rutherford was born in Edinburgh on 3 November 1749. He was the son of Professor John Rutherford (1695-1779). He was educated first at home and then in England, and then studied at Edinburgh University. He graduated with the degree of M.A. then began a course of medical study under William Cullen (1710-1790) and Joseph Black (1728-1799), obtaining his M.D. in 1772 through a dissertation entitled De aere fixo dicto aut Mephitico. This work established a distinction between carbonic acid gas and nitrogen, and paralleled the work being done at the same time by Joseph Priestley (1733-1804). On the publication of his paper and on the completion of his university study, Rutherford travelled in England, France and Italy, and then in 1775 returned to Edinburgh where he began to practise. He became a Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1776, and a Fellow in 1777, and was President between 1796 and 1798. Previously, in 1786, He succeeded Dr. John Hope as Professor of Botany at Edinburgh University, and Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden in the city (then sited at the top of Leith Walk). Rutherford had also been nominated a member of the Faculty of Medicine and had connections with the Royal Infirmary as a Clinical Professor. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and also of the Linnean Society. In addition to De aere fixo dicto aut Mephitico (1772), he published a paper containing A description of an improved thermometer in Volume 3 of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Characteres generum plantarum ex systemate vegetabilium Linnaei et Horto Kewensi praecipue excerpti (1793). Professor Daniel Rutherford died on 15 November 1819. He was a maternal uncle of Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832).

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Collection of essays presented by J. Thin. Notes and diary received from Mr. John Haldane, W.S., Edinburgh, 1965, Accession nos. E65/9 and E65/10.


The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.17. Robinson-Sheares. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1909.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show reference to Professor Daniel Rutherford related material (check the Indexes for more details): authorisation note in the Laing Collection, La.III.353/1.

Rutherford was the likely compiler of Characteres generum plantarum ex systemate vegetabilium Linnaei et Horto Kewensi praecipue excerpti; quibus accedit series ordinum naturalium, olim a Linnaeo ipso, et nuper a Cl. Jussiaeo proposita. In usus academicos published Edinburgh, 1793. Shelfmark P.310/8, under Linnaeus (Carl) the Elder. Systema vegetabilium, in pre-electronic Catalogue.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence and papers, at the Royal Botanic Garden; notes on clinical cases, 1799-1800, at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Ref. Rutherford NRA 16015 Coll of Physicians; and, 1797-98: lecture notes, 1797-98, at the University of British Columbia, Woodward Biomedical Library.

Corporate Names