The collection of Charles Alson includes; a history of drugs, or materia medica, from his lectures, at Dc.8.58; a treatise on materia medica, 1733, at Gen. 695-697D; an introduction to the materia medica and an introduction to botany, 1736, at Dc.8.12; lectures on materia medica and 'methodus praescribendi', 24 April 1736, at Dk.7.1; lectures on the materia medica and lectures on botany, 1739-1740, at MSS 2624-2625; and, observations on materia medica collected from Alston's lectures, 1754, at Dk.5.12. There is also a letter of Alston to Cromwell Mortimer (d. 1752) reporting on the progress of Chinese seeds sent by him and his experiments with calx viva, 9 August 1750, at Gen. 1733/14.
Papers of Charles Alston (1685-1760)
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- ReferenceGB 237 Coll-278
- Dates of Creation1733-1765
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical Description9 volumes, 1 letter.
- LocationDc.8.12; Dc.8.58; Dk.5.12; Dk.7.1; Gen. 695-697D; Gen. 1733/14; MSS 2624-2625
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Charles Alston was born at Eddlewood (now part of Hamilton, just to the west of Chatelherault). He was educated in Glasgow, but on the death of his father the Duchess of Hamilton became his patron and wished him to study law. Alston however wanted to study medicine and went to Leyden to study under Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738). In Leyden, he met Dr. Alexander Monro, primus (1697-1767). On their return to Edinburgh they revived medical lectures at the University with Alston being appointed Lecturer in Botany and Materia Medica. He also became Superintendent of the Botanic Garden. Alston published various medical papers and an index to the plants in the Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. In his Tirocinium Botanicum Edinburgense (1753), he attacked the Linnaean system of classification. Charles Alston died on 22 November 1760.
Conditions Governing Access
Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.
Letter to Mortimer purchased January 1982, Accession no. E82.4. Treatise on the materia medica purchased Sotheby, July 1963, Accession E63.10. Lectures at MSS 2624-2625 purchased June 1982, Accession E.82.51.
The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.1. Abbadie-Beadon. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.
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.