Timeline of Scottish History

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Robert Sibbald

  • Name  : Sibbald
  • Born  : 1641
  • Died  : 1722
  • Category  : Medical Pioneers
  • Finest Moment : Publication of Scotia Illustrata (1684)

Originated Edinburgh's Physic Garden, the precursor to the Royal Botanic Garden. Born in Edinburgh and studied medicine there and later at Leyden and Paris. His father was David Sibbald, Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland.

In 1679, Charles II granted him patents to be his Geographer and Physician for Scotland. There was a catch to this; Sibbald had to publish 'the natural history of the country and the geographical description of the kingdom'. This may well have been an honour - but it was an expensive one, and Sibbald complained about the pain of buying all the necessary book and manuscripts, as well as gathering the information required, including that from the furthest flung isles.

He was even more annoyed when he realised that he was paying his researcher more than he would be receiving from the King. No matter, he stuck to it and his Scotia Illustrata was eventually published in 1684. The knighthood, received two years' earlier, must have helped to ease his irritation. He wrote several other books, including four books on the Roman antiquities of Scotland (1707).

He briefly converted to Catholicism in 1685, a move rapidly reversed when an angry mob invaded his bedroom one night and searched his bed, Sibbald meanwhile legging it out of the window.

Also that year, he was made Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh; he was a founder member and early President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.