Papers of John Morton Boyd

Scope and Content

The collection contains papers, notes on academic research, correspondence, manuscripts and drafts of published works, and photographs, and is a rich source for aspects of Scotland's natural history, as well as environmental policy and related matters. It include references to the work of Frank Fraser Darling (1903-79), human ecologist and senior lecturer in ecology and conservation, University of Edinburgh, of whom JM Boyd was the biographer.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Morton Boyd C.B.E., F.R.S.E. (1925-1998), Director, Scotland of the Nature Conservancy Council, was educated at Kilmarnock Academy and Glasgow Univeristy. He served in the RAF, 1943-47 as Flight Lieutenant, air navigator and station adjutant. He was a founder member of the government wildlife service in Britain and first Nature Conservancy officer in the Scottish West Highlands and Islands. He was awarded his Ph.D (1957) and a D.Sc (1964) by Glasgow University and was made F.R.S.E. in 1968. He received the R.S.E. Neill Prize in Natural History (1983), and became an Honorary Fellow of both the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Royal Zoological Society.

He served abroad in many roles as a Nuffield Travelling Fellow in the Middle East and East Africa, and was leader of the International Jordan Expedition (1966) and the Royal Society Aldabra Expedition (1967). He was Conservation advisor to the governments of UK, Cyprus, Jordan, Seychelles and Kiribati (Gilbert Islands). He was sectional co-chairman of the Anglo-Soviet Joint Environment Commission (1977-85) a member, Seals Advisory Committee of NERC (1973-79), and of the Ecology Commission, World Conservation Union (IUCN) (1976-92). He was made a fellow of the Institute of Biology and FRSA in 1985. He received the CBE in 1987 and a DLitt from Glasgow 1993.

His research interests were the population ecology of earthworms, seals and ungulates, and the analysis of island ecosystems. In retirement he became conservation adviser to the Forestry Commission, the National Trust for Scotland, and the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. He was Patron of the Woodland Trust and Dynamic Earth, Vice-President of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Scottish Conservation Projects Trust as well as Honorary Lecturer in Zoology at Glasgow and active in the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. He was a member of the Advisory Committee on SSSIs of Scottish Natural Heritage. He acted as an elder of Colinton Kirk from 1979 and held guest lectureships with the National Trust for Scotland, Swan Hellenic Ltd and Noble Caledonia Ltd in NW Europe, East Africa, Madagascar and islands of the Indo-Pacific.

Boyd's main publications are: St Kilda Summer (1959), Mosaic of Islands (1963), The Highlands and Islands (with F. Fraser Darling 1964), The Natural Environment of the Hebrides (2 vols, 1979, 1983), Fraser Darling's Islands (1986), The Hebrides - A Natural History (with I.L. Boyd, 1990), Fraser Darling in Africa: A Rhino in the Whistling Thorn (1992), The Hebrides - a trilogy (with I.L. Boyd), The Song of the Sandpiper (1999).

Source: Summary Curriculum Vitae in box 15 of papers.


The collection is roughly arranged as follows:

  • Box files containing papers relating to foreign travel; 1970 Club; Devolution; General Correspondence; Education and Information (publications) and NCC newsletters;
  • Field notebooks relating to travel in Scotland, Africa, Middle East;
  • Talks and lectures given by JMB; Lecture notes on sea, corals, whales, sea-birds, crisis conservation, rainforests, fauna, volcanoes, Melanesian islands, some lectures delivered on cruises;
  • Publications;
  • Papers relating to his international and overseas activities: Seychelles, Aldabra, Cyprus, Kuala Lumpur, India, Kiribati, South Pacific;
  • Files relating to his advisory roles: international, SSSIs;
  • Files relating to those bodies in which he was active including Royal Society of Edinburgh, Saltire Society, Colinton Kirk, Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, John Muir, Canna Archives, An Iodhlann, National Trust for Scotland, Zoo;
  • Expedition logs: Antarctica 1995, Isles 1995, Melanesia 1994;
  • Manuscripts, drafts and redrafts of reports;
  • Guide books;
  • Papers relating to trusts;
  • Papers relating to Nature Conservancy, Scottish Islands, Soay sheep, fisheries and fish farming;
  • Papers relating to Sir Frank Fraser Darling;
  • Personal papers, correspondence, photographs etc., 2 rolled certificates plus award and honours certificates;
  • Aerial maps.

Conditions Governing Access

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted. Special conditions apply to photographs.


That portion of the archive which relates to Tiree and the research begun by Morton Boyd when studying for his PhD (1956) and thereafter, has been transferred at the request of the depositor to An Iodhlann, Scarinish, Isle of Tiree.

Description compiled by Rachel Hart, Archives Hub Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Brief handlist only.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Special conditions apply to photographs.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 227 procedures.

Custodial History

The archive was presented by the widow of the creator in 1999 and the transfer was facilitated by his son Professor Ian L. Boyd.