Charles Alston 1685-1760

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Charles ALSTON 1685-1760

Biographical Note

Born at Hamilton, Lanarkshire, son of Thomas Alston, physician. Matriculated at Glasgow University 1700, but financial hardship after the death of his father in 1703 prevented him from graduating. His potential was recognised by Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton who then supported him and provided him with legal training; he also studied medicine in his spare time and with the Duchess's patronage he became regius professor of botany and superintendent of the physic garden at Edinburgh in 1715. He graduated MD at Glasgow in 1719 and became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1721 (secretary from 1725). His work and teaching at the Edinburgh botanic gardens significantly enhanced their European reputation though Alston's opposition to the theories of Linnaeus proved to be ill-judged.


Alston's library was auctioned in Edinburgh, beginning 2 February 1761; no catalogue survives. One book noted as having been bought at that sale survives at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, C.6.18 (Colonna, Plantarum, 1592).