Papers of Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour (1853-1922)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The papers of Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour consist of material relating to work on the flora of Socotra, 1883; letters; class tickets from 1871 and into the mid-1870s; notebook; notes; lecture notes; University of Glasgow class catalogues; material relating to the University of Edinburgh Commission of 1858, and its Reports on Botany, and Botany in the Arts Curriculum; material on the Universities Scotland Bill; and, material on botany excursions.

Administrative / Biographical History

Isaac Bayley Balfour was born in Edinburgh on 31 March 1853. He was the son of the Professor of Botany at Edinburgh University, John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884). Balfour was educated at Edinburgh Academy and then he studied at Edinburgh University where he was awarded the degrees of B.Sc. in 1873, and D.Sc. in 1875. He also studied abroad at Strasbourg and Wurzburg. He participated in expeditions to Rodriguez in 1874, Socotra in 1880, and Japan and China in 1909-1910. Balfour was Regius Professor of Botany at Glasgow University between 1879 and 1884, then Sherardian Professor of Botany at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of Magdalen College, from 1884 to 1888. From 1888, he was Professor of Botany at Edinburgh University, Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, and the King's Botanist in Scotland. During his Keepership of the Garden, the whole establishment underwent re-organisation, buildings and gardens. He was knighted in 1920. Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour died at Haslemere on 30 November 1922.

Conditions Governing Access

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Note

The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) The dictionary of national biography. The concise dictionary, Part 2. 1901-1970 (Oxford: OUP, 1982). (2) Who was who, Vol.2. 1916-1928, 3rd edition (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1962). (3) Men and women of the time. A dictionary of contemporaries, 15th edition, by Victor G. Plarr (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1899). (4) Obituary notices, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol.43. 1922-1923, pp.230-236 (Edinburgh: Neill and Co., 1924).

Other Finding Aids

An important finding aid is the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives. Additions to the typed slips in sheaf binders were made until 1987.

Related Material

The Index to Manuscripts shows references to Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour's lectures on Botany, taken down by another, and an outline sketch of a course of lectures for summer 1889 at the Royal Botanic Garden, both at Gen.1904. There are Botany notes taken in 1890, at Gen. 849. In addition to individual letters by Balfour at Gen. 524 and at Gen. 1425/10-11, there is material mostly in the form of letters by others referring to Balfour at Dc.6.116., Gen. 1426/84., and Dk.2.13.

Additional Information

The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) The dictionary of national biography. The concise dictionary, Part 2. 1901-1970 (Oxford: OUP, 1982). (2) Who was who, Vol.2. 1916-1928, 3rd edition (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1962). (3) Men and women of the time. A dictionary of contemporaries, 15th edition, by Victor G. Plarr (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1899). (4) Obituary notices, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Vol.43. 1922-1923, pp.230-236 (Edinburgh: Neill and Co., 1924).

Geographical Names