PSNS People 1900-1940

Sir Robert Pullar (1828 – 1912)

Robert Pullar left school at the age of 13 and was apprenticed to his father, a Perth dyer; he later became the senior partner in the business. The dye works in Kinnoull Street, now PKC’s Pullar House, was the biggest dye works in the world. Robert Pullar joined PSNS in 1871 and was a committed supporter for the rest of his life. He encouraged his family to join with twelve Pullars from three generations becoming members. Robert Pullar gave the Society many donations, including £5,000 towards the building of the Natural History Museum in Tay Street. Robert Pullar was knighted in 1895 and was MP for Perth from 1907 to 1910.

Robert Dow (1852 – 1913)

A teacher at Bankfoot then headmaster at Stewarts Free School, Perth, then Longforgan. He joined PSNS in 1882 taking up archaeology, geology and botany. He developed an interest in conifers and the plant collector David Douglas.

Alexander Rodger (1869 – 1914)

In 1895 Alex Rodger was appointed the first paid curator of the Perthshire Natural History
Museum on a salary of £150 per year. He started his working life as an apprentice plumber
in Dundee where he attended Prof D’Arcy Thompson’s classes and developed his long-held interest in natural history. He came to Perth with excellent references from Prof D’Arcy Thompson who was a corresponding Member of the Society.

Professor James Murdoch Geikie (1839-1915)

James Geikie lived in Perth, later Birnam, with his family from 1875 to 1881 whilst he was
Regional Geologist with the British Geological Survey. He was President of the Society from 1880-1882 until he left to become the Professor of Geology at Edinburgh University. His specialism was in understanding the origin of surface features and the role of glacial action in their formation.

William Barclay (1846 – 1923)

William Barclay was a teacher and headmaster at the Watergate School and Western
District School. From 1895 to 1907, he edited the Society’s Proceedings and Transactions
and was President from 1907 to 1918. He made a significant study of British roses and
contributed to the knowledge of rose hybrids and their distribution in Scotland.

Robert Hunt Meldrum (1858 – 1933)

Taught at several schools in Perth and then became Headmaster at Tibbermore. A keen
mountaineer and linguist he developed a widespread reputation for his study of mosses and liverworts. He joined the Society in 1884 and was for many years the Cairnmaster of the Mountain Section. He published a county list of Perthshire Mosses and after his death his collection of mosses was purchased by the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

George F. Bates (1868 – 1933)

Originally from Cumbria he taught science at Perth Academy and later became Assistant
Director of Education. He was an active member of PSNS, serving as its Vice-President 1905, and in 1907 was appointed Editor. From 1918 to 1926 he served as the Society’s President. He combined his interests in geology, lower plants, microscopy and photography producing beautiful micrographs of pollen, algae and rock thin sections. He retired to Surrey.

Andrew Coates (1814 – 1900) and Henry Coates (1859 – 1935)

Andrew Coates was a businessman and member of the Coates thread manufacturing family from Paisley. He supported many good causes in Perth such as the care of orphans and the welfare of the sick. Believing in the importance of science, he supported PSNS.
His son, Henry, joined the Society in 1875, He was President for 15 years, Editor for 13 years and Curator of the Museum from 1914-1918. His main interests were molluscs, geology and photography. He was elected first President of the Federation of Scottish Photographers.

Charles Geikie Matthew (1862- 1936)

Charles Matthew was a Surgeon Captain in the Royal Navy who served in the Far East.
During the First World War, he was in charge of the Naval Medical Station in Dover. He
retired home to Guildtown and joined the PSNS in 1920. He was an expert in Chinese ferns but in retirement renewed his interest in the British flora. Charles Matthew was a great supporter of PSNS helping to curate the plant collection and gave money and equipment to the Society towards the end of his life.

Donald Alexander Haggart (1850 – 1939)
Worked as a banker at Killin. He specialised in the flora of his native Breadalbane, having
visited the summit of Ben Lawers over 300 times and contributed to the Flora and
herbarium specimens. He was a friend to the most able English botanists who visited

Hugh Robert Mill (1861-1950): Pioneer of Modern Geography

From early days as a chemist and marine scientist he went on to become this country’s first lecturer in Geography, Librarian and later Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society and Director of the British Rainfall Association.  He was a founding father of the Geographical Association, a prime mover in initiating the so-called “Heroic Age” of Antarctic exploration and a key figure in establishing the first maps of the oceans of the world.  A friend of princes, professors, famous explorers and authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and J M Barrie, Mill  played a crucial role in developing the science of geography, promoting research and discovery and advancing geography education.  Mill’s  connection with Perth include Perthshire Society of Natural Science (PSNS) and his friendship with the Coates family and Patrick Geddes. 



Personalities of Perthshire : Current and Past

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