Correspondence of Robert Dick (1811-1866)

Scope and Content

The correspondence in the collection consists entirely of letters to Charles William Peach about the plants and fossils of Caithness. Some comments too against Darwin's theory of evolution. There are also obituaries, press-cuttings and letters about Robert Dick.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Dick was born in Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, in central Scotland, in January 1811. At the age of thirteen he was apprenticed to a baker, but he also read widely and began to acquire a knowledge of botany. As a journeyman baker he worked in Leith, Glasgow and Greenock and in 1830 he went to Thurso in Caithness where he began to establish himself as a baker. In Caithness, Dick also studied geology and widened his knowledge of natural history, accumulating a broad collection of British flora and even re-discovering Northern Holy-Grass (Hierochloe borealis). He corresponded with the geologist Hugh Miller (1802-1856) contributing significantly to his arguments and his research on old red sandstone. Dick became an authority on the geology and natural history of Caithness and aided the geologist Sir Roderick Impey Murchison (1792-1871) in his research. Latterly, the loss of flour in a shipwreck ruined his bakery business and Robert Dick died at the age of fifty-five on 24 December 1866.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Material acquired October 1966, Accession no. E66.38.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 5. Craik-Drake. 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.

Geographical Names