History Scotland


Dugald Carmichael (1772-1827) was an eminent naturalist and explorer, consulted and cited by the leading natural scientists of his day. He made lasting contributions to the understanding of topics ranging from the formation of coral reefs and island biogeography, to the systematic recording of British algae and fungi. However, a modest man, engrossed in his studies, he has been almost forgotten, even on his native island.

Carmichael was born in August 1772 on the isle of Lismore, where his father was a small tenant farmer. Carmichael family lore, as retold in his obituary, describes him as a solitary boy, inspired by the nature of Lismore. It is said that his later talents as a biological illustrator began early, with experiments on the use of natural pigments, not least his own blood. It is likely that his abilities were recognised by the parish minister Reverend Donald McNicol, the leading Gaelic scholar of his day, because he was able to matriculate at Glasgow University in the Greek class of 1787, at fifteen, the normal age at that time. He did not graduate

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