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Mr Patrick Neill

Patrick Neill (1776–1851) was a prominent Scottish naturalist, writer, and advocate for the study and preservation of nature. Born in Edinburgh on March 22, 1776, Neill developed a deep passion for the natural world from an early age. His curiosity about plants, animals, and the environment led him to pursue a career in natural history.

Neill received his education at the University of Edinburgh, where he studied botany and natural sciences. His academic pursuits fueled his interest in the classification and study of plants, and he became an esteemed botanist in the scientific community.

In 1802, Neill founded the "Edinburgh Review of Literary and Scientific Intelligence," a periodical that aimed to disseminate knowledge about various scientific advancements and discoveries. Through this publication, Neill provided a platform for scholars and researchers to share their findings, contributing significantly to the dissemination of scientific knowledge in the early 19th century.

One of Neill's most significant contributions was his involvement in the establishment of the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society in 1809, where he served as the secretary for over four decades. Through his leadership and dedication, the society flourished, promoting the cultivation of plants and the advancement of horticulture in Scotland.

In 1820 Neill laid out West Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh with 77,000 trees and shrubs. His own garden at Canonmills Cottage, near Edinburgh, was renowned for its collection of exotics.

Neill was also an accomplished writer, authoring several books on botany, gardening, and natural history. His publications, such as "A Tour through some of the Islands of Orkney and Shetland" and "The History of the Isle of Man," showcased his expertise in the field and contributed to a greater understanding of the flora and fauna of these regions.

Neill wrote the article on 'Gardening' in the 7th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1840).

Beyond his literary and scientific endeavors, Neill was a fervent advocate for the preservation of nature. He recognized the importance of conservation and the need to protect the environment for future generations. His efforts in promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness about the value of biodiversity were ahead of his time.

Patrick Neill's legacy lives on through his contributions to the scientific community, his dedication to the study of botany, and his advocacy for the preservation of nature. His influential work in botany and horticulture laid the groundwork for future generations of naturalists and environmentalists.


  1. Walker, David M. "Patrick Neill of Canonmills: A Scottish Naturalist." The Edinburgh Geologist, 2018.
  2. Desmond, Ray. "Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists: Including Plant Collectors, Flower Painters and Garden Designers." CRC Press, 1994.
  3. Neill, Patrick. "A Tour through some of the Islands of Orkney and Shetland." Edinburgh: Archibald Constable and Co., 1806.
  4. Neill, Patrick. "The History of the Isle of Man." Edinburgh: A. Constable and Co., 1812., accessed 29 April 2008.

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