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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Bill Jenkins

My PhD examines the reception and development of pre-Darwinian evolutionary theories in Edinburgh from 1790 to 1844. A large proportion of the key figures who were to dominate natural history in the ninenteenth century, including Charles Darwin Himself, weire educated at the medical school of the University of Edinburgh. The prevalence of evolutionary speculations among students at the medical school and in particular in the circles around Edinburgh's professor of natural history, Robert Jameson, is therefore of central importance in the development of evolutionary thought in Great Britain. My work demonstrates that not only were continental evolutionary theories, such as those Jean Baptiste Lamarck and Étienne Geoffroy St Hilaire, widely known and discussed in the Edinburgh of the early nineteenth century, but that several key figures, including Robert Grant, Henry H. Cheek and Robert Jameson himself, went on th develop their own speculative models of evolution.