William Jameson (1796-1873)

William ("Gulielmo") Jameson   - was a Scottish-Ecuadorian Botanist, Doctor, Professor and Assayer to the Mint. Although born and raised in Scotland, he as a young man made several voyages as a ship's surgeon, then emigrated to South America. In 1826 he settled in Ecuador, where he was soon elected professor of chemistry and botany at the university there. In 1832, he was made assayer to the mint and then director in 1861. In 1869 he went back to Edinburgh (by way of Argentina, to visit his sons), returning again to Ecuador in 1872, where he died shortly thereafter.

William Jameson was born October 3, 1796 in Edinburgh, the son of William and Anne (Spottiswood) Jameson. His father was a Writer to the Signet. Not a lot is known about his ancestors although his grandfather was also a William Jameson, architect and a very prominent citizen in Edinburgh. In 1763 he bought 45 acres of land in Portobello where he set up a brickworks, which supplied builders in all of Edinburgh and is credited with building most of this new Town of Portobello-Edinburgh.[1] His great grandfather Patrick Jameson, was a mason, who helped build the Royal Exchange, which at a cost of £.100,000, in 1753, effected the drainage of the city.[1]

William grew up in Edinburgh, as an elder brother to his stepsister, Elizabeth Ann Jameson. He studied and obtained his diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and afterwards became a ship's surgeon on several voyages, first on whaling ships to Baffin Bay, then to South America. While on the voyage to Lima in 1822, he kept a meteorological journal en route, and deciding to remain in Peru, practiced at Guayaquil until 1826, when he removed to the better climate of Quito, Ecuador. He practiced medicine there for a year, and in 1827 became professor of chemistry and botany at Universidad Central del Ecuador. In 1832 he was appointed assayer to the mint, and in 1861 director. In 1864, the Ecuadorean government appointed him to prepare a synopsis of the flora of the country. Of this, two volumes and part of a third were printed in 1865, under the title 'Synopsis Plantarum Quitensium,' but the work was never fully completed.[2]

Jameson long corresponded with Sir William and Sir Joseph Hooker, Balfour, Lindley, Sir William Jardine, Reichenbach, and Anderson-Henry, and sent home many new species of plants, among which species of anemone, gentian, and the moss Dicranum bear his name. A genus of ferns described by Hooker and Greville is also called Jamesonia. In addition to his papers in the 'Memoirs of the Wernerian Society,' the 'Companion to the Botanical Magazine,' Hooker's 'London Journal of Botany,' the 'Journals' of the Linnean and Royal Geographical societies, and the 'Transactions of the Edinburgh Botanical Society,' Jameson's only important work is 'Synopsis Plantarum Quitensium,' Quito, 1865, 8vo.[3]

While in Ecuador he married Antonia Olivera, was converted to Catholicism, and in recognition of his scientific eminence was made, a Caballero of Spain, by Queen Isabella. In 1869, on a return to Edinburgh, he visited his three sons who had settled in the Argentine Republic. In 1872 he left again for Ecuador, but was seized with fever soon after his return to Quito, and died there, at Quito, on June 22, 1873.[4]

Y-DNA test, associated with this family, #: None Known


[1]     Dictionary of Scottish Architects - Architect Biography Report

[2]     Papers of William Jameson - Harvard University Library

[3]     Trans. Bot. Soc. Edinburgh, 1873; Royal Soc. Cat. of Scientific Papers.

[4]     The Dictionary of National Biography - Vol. XXIX, Inglis-John; p.236 - Smith, Elder & Co.1892