Royal Society of Edinburgh: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Royal Society of Edinburgh's Building on the corner of George St and Hanover St

The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland's national academy of science and letters. The membership consists of over 1400 peer-elected fellows, who are known as Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, denoted FRSE in official titles. It provides annual grants totalling over half a million pounds for research and entrepreneurship. The Society organises public lectures and promotes the sciences in schools throughout Scotland.

It covers a broader selection of fields than the Royal Society including literature and history.



At the start of the eighteenth century, Edinburgh's intellectual climate fostered many clubs and societies (see Scottish Enlightenment). Though there were several that treated the arts, sciences and medicine, the most prestigious was the Philosophical Society which was founded in 1738. With the help of University of Edinburgh professors like Joseph Black, William Cullen and John Walker, this society transformed itself into the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1783 and in 1786 it issued the first edition of its new journal Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (ISSN 0263-5933).

As the end of the century drew near, the younger members like Sir James Hall embraced Lavoisier's new nomenclature and the members split over the practical and theoretical objectives of the society. This resulted in the founding of the Wernerian Society (1808-1858), a parallel organisation that focused more upon natural history and scientific research that could be used to improve Scotland's weak agricultural and industrial base. Under the leadership of Prof. Robert Jameson, the Wernerians first founded Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society (1808-1821) and then the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal (1822), thereby diverting the output of the Royal Society's Transactions. Thus, for the first four decades of the nineteenth century, the RSE's members published brilliant articles in two different journals. By the 1850s, Jameson and his partner Sir David Brewster lost their influence and the society once again could unify its membership under one journal.

During the nineteenth century the society produced many scientists whose ideas laid the foundation of the modern sciences. From the twentieth century onward, the society functioned not only as focal point for Scotland's eminent scientists, but also the arts and humanities. It still exists today and continues to promote original research in Scotland.

The current president is former Governor of Hong Kong Lord Wilson of Tillyorn.


List of Presidents of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

  1. His Grace The Duke of Buccleuch (1783-1812)
  2. Sir James Hall (1812-1820)
  3. Sir Walter Scott (1820-1832)
  4. Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane (1832-1860)
  5. His Grace The Duke of Argyll (1860-1864)
  6. Principal Sir David Brewster (1864-1868)
  7. Sir Robert Christison (1869-1873)
  8. Sir William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) (1873-1878)
  9. Rev Philip Kelland (1878-1879)
  10. The Rt Hon Lord Moncreiff of Tullibole (1879-1884)
  11. Thomas Stevenson (1884-1885)
  12. Sir William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) (1886-1890)
  13. Sir Douglas Maclagan (1890-1895)
  14. The Rt Hon Lord Kelvin (1895-1907)
  15. Principal Sir William Turner (1908-1913)
  16. Professor James Geikie (1913-1915)
  17. Dr John Horne (1915-1919)
  18. Professor Frederick Orpen Bower (1919-1924)
  19. Sir Alfred Ewing (1924-1929)
  20. Sir Edward Sharpey Schafer (1929-1934)
  21. Sir D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1934-1939)
  22. Professor Sir Edmund Whittaker (1939-1944)
  23. Professor Sir William Wright Smith (1944-1949)
  24. Professor James Kendall (1949-1954)
  25. Professor James Ritchie (1954-1958)
  26. Professor J. Norman Davidson (1958-1959)
  27. Professor Sir Edmund Hirst (1959-1964)
  28. Professor J. Norman Davidson (1964-1967)
  29. Professor Norman Feather (1967-1970)
  30. Sir Maurice Yonge (l970-1973)
  31. The Hon Lord Cameron (1973-1976)
  32. Professor R. A. Smith (1976-1979)
  33. Sir Kenneth Blaxter (1979-1982)
  34. Sir John Atwell (1982-1985)
  35. Sir Alwyn Williams (1985-1988)
  36. Professor Charles Kemball (1988-1991)
  37. Professor Sir Alastair Currie (1991-1993)
  38. Dr Thomas L. Johnston (1993-1996)
  39. Professor Malcolm Jeeves (1996-1999)
  40. Sir William Stewart (1999-2002)
  41. Lord Sutherland of Houndwood (2002–2005)
  42. Sir Michael Atiyah (2005-2008)
  43. Lord Wilson of Tillyorn (2008-present)

Notable members

Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, denoted by the use of the initialism FRSE in official titles, have included:

External links



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