ROXBURGH, William. Craigie (?), Ayrshire 3. or 29.6.1751 — Edinburgh 18.2.1815. British (Scots) Physician and Scientist in India, Pioneer of Indian Botany. Early years unclear, studied medicine and botany in Edinburgh, he joined the E.I.C.’s navy as surgeon’s mate. From 1776 Assistant Surgeon in Madras medical service, in 1781-93 in charge of Botanic Garden at Samulcotta near Coconada. He studied the flora of the Northern Sircars and became the E.I.C.’s botanist in the Carnatic. From 1793 until his retirement in 1813 he was the first Superintendent of the Botanic Garden near Calcutta and the Chief Botanist of the E.I.C. Retired in poor health and reurned to the U.K. M.D. 1790 Aberdeen College. Three times married, one, eight and three children.
WR was the first to deal systematically with Indian botany and, unlike many later scholars, also duly noted the Indian names of plants. He was much interested in economical botany. Also collected meteorological data.
Publications: Plants of the Coast of Coromandel. 300 annotated drawings. 12 fasc. 1795-1820.
– Ed. by W. Carey: Hortus Bengalensis. Serampore 1814.
– Ed. by N. Wallich & W. Carey: Flora Indica. 1-3. Serampore 1820-32.
– articles in As.Res., Transactions of Linnaean Soc., etc.
Sources: G. S. Boulger, D.N.B. 49, 1897, 368-270; Buckland, Dictionary; *R. Desmond, Oxford D.N.B. 2004; *T. Robinson, William Roxburgh. The Founding Father of Indian Botany. Chichester 2008; Wikipedia with portrait; https://plants.jstor.org/stable/10.5555/al.ap.person.bm000007221.
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