Patrick Matthew lived and died long ago (*1785, Newbigging near Errol, Scotland; †1830, Cawnpore, India). The traces of his existence have since been rotting in the archives as of no historical interest. Now, his existence gets linked to the live of his namesake, Patrick Matthew (*1790, Rome farm near Scone, Scotland; †1874, Gourdiehill near Errol, Scotland). Many will wonder who Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill was, and some who heard of him will, nevertheless, claim his historical insignificance. However, the life of Patrick Matthew from Gourdiehill crossed the path of Charles Darwin, and his ideas crossed the history of the idea of natural selection. He is, therefore, of some interest to the history of biology.
Patrick Matthew from Gourdiehill is often said to have anticipated the idea of species transmutation through natural selection in his book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture published in 1831 (e.g., Weale 2015. Patrick Matthew's law of natural selection. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 115: 785-791). I personally disagree and think Matthew's evolutionary scheme only suggested species transmutation with natural selection in some lateral role, but not as the central force driving the transmutation process (Dagg 2018. Comparing the respective transmutation mechanisms of Patrick Matthew, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 123(4): 864-878).1 Julian Derry even disagrees with that and thinks that Matthew suggested two separate processes—species transmutation without natural selection and natural selection as a species fixing force without transmutation occurring while it is engaged. There you are, already having a hunch of the issues concerning Patrick Matthew's historical significance.
Now, his namesake from Newbigging also gets significant in a comedy of mistaken identities concerning the (university) education of these two Patrick Matthews.2
1 If you'd like to know why I think that Patrick Matthew only suggested species transmutation with natural selection follow through the links here. The article linked, there, analyses Matthew's mechanism of species transmutation in detail and compares it with Darwin's and Wallace's.
2 While the following collects the historical facts that clarify these mistaken identities and their education at the University of Edinburgh, or educational leave for a few weeks, or visit of only one experimental fun lecture, respectively, I could never have done it on my own. It is due to a team effort by Anne Carroll, Julian Derry, Mike Weale, and me.
A family lore turned folklore
One enigma about this Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill is his education. The only source we really have is William T. Calman (1912a, "Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill." Handbook and Guide to Dundee and District, British Association for the Advancement of Science, pp. 451-457) stating:
"He [Patrick Matthew] was educated at Perth Academy and at Edinburgh University, but his stay at the latter cannot have been of long duration, for, on his father's death, he undertook, at the age of seventeen, the management of the estate of Gourdiehill, near Errol." (Calman 1912a, p. 452)3---
3 He repeated roughly the same in a very similar article: Calman 1912b. Patrick Matthew (1790 – 1874). Journal of Botany, British and Foreign 50: 193-194.
Ever since, the above sentence about his education has been parroted by almost every publication ever written on Patrick Matthew (laudable exceptions being Mike Weale's and, thanks to him and Anne Carroll, mine). Matthew's university education is now often taken for granted, because this pseudo-replication created an appearance of corroboration that is not warranted.
Calman (1912a, p. 451) only referred to communication with Miss Euphemia Matthew, Patrick Matthew's daughter, in general—a general nod at the memories of an 80 year old lady about a time, when she hadn't even been born, that is, family lore. But Calman did not refer to her as his particular source for the particular claim of Matthew's university education. Unless this communication was by letter and the letters have been preserved somewhere, we shall be unable to check Calman's words.
|Excerpt from Calman (1912a). The correcting of "particulars given by Professor May" concerns the claim that the Matthew family was related to Robert Bruce via a sister of him.|
Mike Weale from The Patrick Matthew Project found a first hint that sheds a doubt on the reliability of the communication between William Calman and Euphemia Matthew. The short version is that Pastor Benecke, a relative of the German branch of the Matthew family, told Walther May that the Matthews were descended from a sister of Robert the Bruce. May quoted Benecke on this in a German publication (May 1912. Darwin und Patrick Matthew. Zoologische Annalen 4: 280-311. See here for an English translation). Calman (1912a, p. 452), in turn, denied this in a footnote as follows:
" * The family tradition alluded to by Professor May, according to which the Matthews are descended from a sister of Robert Bruce, is declared by Miss [Euphemia] Matthew to be quite without foundation."However, Mike Weale found evidence that Euphemia Matthew owned genealogies that show that the Matthews descended from Robert Bruce in direct line—not via a sister (see section headed "Patrick Matthew's ancient family tree" at this page). And she gave them to A.H. Millar for his book the Historical Castles and Mansions of Scotland (1890). At page 128, it mentions a document in the possession of Miss E. Matthew, Errol Park Cottage, and reprints it as: The Genealogie of the Lords Oliphant as it was written in the Castell of Duplin. That is, Euphemia trusted in the correctness of the genealogy. Regardless of the question whether these genealogies were really correct or not, there remains the oddity that Calman claims Euphemia to have declared the family lore about the family link "quite without foundation," when she should only have denied that the link to Robert Bruce went via a sister. This suggests poor understanding between Euphemia Matthew and William Calman.
The misattributed matriculation record
William J. Dempster (1996, Evolutionary concepts in the nineteenth century. Natural selection and Patrick Matthew. Pentland Press) tried to verify Patrick Matthew's training at the University of Edinburgh by consulting its matriculation record. He wrote:
"According to the records in the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Edinburgh University Library, the name of Patrick Matthew appears in the Matriculation Index in 1804-05 and again in 1808-09. His name is on the class list of Professor Gregory who held the chair of medicine. The subjects studied were anatomy, surgery, chemistry, medical practice. In 1808 Patrick Matthew attended Professor Hope's classes in chemistry. There is no evidence that Patrick Matthew graduated from Edinburgh and he appears never to have mentioned in his writings that he had attended Edinburgh University, where his studies were interrupted when he seventeen years old by the death of his father." (Dempster 1996, p. 1, my emphasis)Meanwhile, the University of Edinburgh has put its records of historical alumni online (see image below). This online record seems to suggest that the Patrick Matthew in question ran a regular course of studies in medicine and was training abroad, at the Indian Medical Service, from 1807 to 1808. However, it is rather a compound record of two namesakes as will become clear in the following.
A direct look at the records in the library of the university yielded entries for the sessions 1804-05, 1805-06 and 1808-09 (ht Julian Derry). Sessions were beginning 1st October of the first year, say 1804, and running through to summer of the next year, 1805.
Anyway, the above record does not fit to Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill (Gourdiehill PM) for several reasons. First, Gourdiehill PM (1790-1874) would have been 14 in the year that the matriculation record first registered the enrollment. Second, Gourdiehill PM never was in India. Third, this Patrick Matthew (born 20 October 1790) would have been 17 or just turned 18, when visiting the university in the session 1808-09, which began at 1 Oct. 1808. However, the father of Gourdiehill PM died roughly one year earlier, at 1 November 1807.4 Though Patrick Matthew's uncle, yet another Patrick Matthew, was put up to manage the affairs of his deceased brother John Matthew (see here), it seems somewhat unlikely that Patrick Matthew jun. would have proceeded to start a course of academic studies at the university about one year later. He was the only son with five sisters (see section: "Patrick Matthew's immediate family tree" at The Patrick Matthew Project) and a widowed mother to look after. Even without the earlier death of his father, a course of studies including anatomy, surgery, and medical practice would have been a very odd choice.
4 The church account of the Old Parish Register of Scone records a sum of money taken for forwarding a mort-cloth for a dead Mr. Matthew (no forename) at 8 November 1807.
A closer look at all university records (ht Julian Derry, his full data-set contains about 100 photographs of matriculation records, class lists etc. from the university archives), however, shows that the entries for 1804-05 and 1805-06 were by a medical student, whereas the matriculation in 1808 was only for chemistry. Furthermore, this non-medical Pat Matthew seems to have attended only one chemistry lecture of Prof. Thomas Charles Hope, given at 26 October 1808. The class list of that lecture shows that the "Pat. Matthew" attending this lecture indicated that he was not a medical student (see left column "Not med?" in the image below). Hence the above online record is not all of one medical student, but a compound of a medical student (1804-1806) and someone else who did not study medicine.
A day at the University—or a few months at most
That is, Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill may have attended at least one of the chemistry lectures of Prof. Hope. These lectures were famous for their spectacular experiments and became so popular among the wider population, that was not studying and following a regular curriculum, that Hope, eventually, gave one for the ladies of Edinburgh at 15 Feb. 1826:
"For the first time, [...] the splendid portals of the University of Edinburgh were thrown open to the fair sex [...]. On that memorable day Dr. Hope, the Professor of Chemistry, commenced a popular course of that fascinating subject. That learned lecturer has been long celebrated for his oral instruction, but still more famous for his showy experiments exhibited to the grown-up children of the male sex [...]." (Dr. Hope and his lecture to the Ladies of Edinburgh, The Lancet 6(145): 336-363, 1826)After toiling with the management of the family estate for 10 months, Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill may either have needed a distraction or an educational leave for improving his farm management skills. What he did not need was a full-time course of studies for a job, as if he had none yet. He either visited only one of Prof. Hope's edutainment lectures for grown-up children or his stint at the university amounted to several weeks. As he does not occur in any records of 1809 or later, however, the season holidays around 20 December 1808 would probably mark the end of any stint longer than one day at the university. Personally, I do not believe that Matthew attended more than one fun lecture by Prof. Hope, because of the chores of managing the family estate and looking after his five sisters and widowed mother. By his own account in the Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, he managed orchards from 1807, the year his father died, onward. In 1865, he corrected a claim made in the the Gardeners' Chronicle, that the climate of Scotland does not allow the cultivation of fruit trees, in a letter to the editors as follows:
"I have managed orchards for 58 years; have planted orchards—many thousand Apple and Pear trees in Scotland, Germany, and a small one in Spain; [...]" (Matthew 1865, Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette 25, 16 December 1865, p. 1179)
In conclusion, Calman's account is definitely false. It is chronologically impossible that the death of his father John Matthew in December 1807 forced Patrick to quit studying in Oct.-Dec. 1808. We already know that the communication between William Calman and Euphemia Matthew was unreliable (see Robert the Bruce above). Imagine Calman asking Euphemia a loaded question about her father's university education and Euphemia answering something to the effect that: yes, he did have his stint there in 1808 but, no, he couldn't pursue a full curricular course of studies because of his father's death in 1807...
Calman probably connected the wrong ends once more and construed a story about Patrick Matthew's full curricular course of studies terminated by the precipitous death of his father.
Let the mess begin
The above records for sessions 1804-05, 1805-06, the diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1806, and the medical service in India in 1807 all refer to the other Patrick Matthew, a medical student from Newbigging. Before giving further details that illuminate the existence of this Patrick Matthew, however, a word on the above featured online record of historical alumni of the University of Edinburgh as well as on the habit of Scottish officials in treating fore- and surnames.
First, the online record includes a typo and a rare expression. "Colleg" must simply be "College" and "Diplomate" was a standard expression for members of the Royal College of Surgeons with a diploma degree. Indeed, the medical student from Newbigging did earn a degree called diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons at 18 April 1806 (thanks to Aaron Fleming, Library and Archive Assistant, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh for that information).
Second, for some reason it was quite common among the Scots to treat the forenames Peter and Patrick as synonymous. Our medical student and his father from Newbigging as well as our orchard owner from Gourdiehill have all been referred to by either name in various documents. Likewise, the same person has variously been called by the surnames Matthew, Mathew, and Matthews in different documents. This is true, for example, for the diploma record of the Royal College of Surgeons, for it spells the medical student from Newbigging with only one "t" in Mathew. The military bureaucracy in India picked up that spelling with one "t" and never corrected it.
Life of Patrick. Short story of the namesake from Newbigging
Traces of the existence of the other Patrick Matthew from Newbigging can be found in many independent documents. Before piling these historical records, here's the short version:
- Patrick Matthew is baptised on 16 August 1785 in Errol, son of Peter/Patrick Matthew and Jean McCulloch of Newbigging, Errol.
- He studies medicine at Edinburgh University from 1804-05 (first year) to 1805-06 (second year).
- The British India Office of Medical Staff appoints him as Assistant Surgeon in 1805.
- At 18 April 1806, he earns a diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons and
- his appointment as Assistant Surgeon is promptly approved at 14 November 1806.
- The Caledonian Mercury, 13 December 1806, lists assistant surgeons P. Matthew and G. O. Gardner among the passenger of the ship General Stuart headed for Bengal.
- 16 April 1820, he gets promoted to surgeon. 13 years was quite the normal stretch for such a promotion in the army.
- He eventually dies, aged 45, as Surgeon of the Hon. East India Company's Bengal Establishment, 15 August 1830, and is buried in Kacherie Cemetery in Cawnpore (Kanpur).
Traces of Patrick. Evidence of the namesake's existence
Here's a record from the ScotlandsPeople website showing that three Patrick Matthews have been born and baptized around the same time and close to each other in Scotland.
Okay, the guy from Udny near Aberdeen is a bit farther off, but the the guy baptized in Errol near Perth is our Newbigging P.M. (see record below), and the third guy baptized in Scone near Perth is our Gourdiehill P.M. known to have been born on Rome Farm near Scone.
2. Family background
The file GD316 of the National Records of Scotland has further information about the other Patrick Matthew's family. This Patrick was the grandson of a John Matthew from Clashbenny and the son of a Peter/Patrick Matthew from Newbigging. The following excerpt is from GD316_16_4, which gives the genealogies of Matthew families other than the one of Gourdiehill (put online by Mike Weale at The Patrick Matthew Project).
As you can see, Peter Matthew of "Newbigging" (red ellipse) was a son of John Matthew (of Clashbenny, this village is given on the next page, which is not shown above) and had a son called Patrick Matthew (third from left), who went to East India and married there. Here's the same excerpt rotated clockwise:
Inside the red ellipse, it says, in the right half (which is the top in the non-rotated version and hence the older half): "Patrick Matthew, went to East India, and married."
The left (younger) half says: "One daughter, married, name unknown." (We actually know that her name was Margaret Matthew and she married Captain John Campbell. See below.)
Furthermore, the elder brother John Matthew (at the top of the rotated image) also went to East India, and so did the younger brother George Matthew (two below Patrick). The Newbigging Matthews had quite a number of supernumerary sons and quite a family tradition of sending them to India.
3. Transit as appointed assistant surgeon
Here's the list of passengers for Bengal on board of the General Stuart (published in the Caledonian Mercury, Saturday, 13 December 1806).
Again, an ambiguous record. We know that Patrick Matthew/Mathew from Newbigging did study medicine, earn a diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons, was approved as assistant surgeon by the British India Office for Medical Staff, and eventually died as a surgeon in India. Nevertheless, the passenger list can be read in two ways. Either P. Matthew and G. O. Gardner were both assistant surgeons and the newspaper forgot the plural "s," or only G. O. Gardner was an assistant surgeon.
4. Assistant surgeon
However, the following record of both Patrick Mathew (sic) and Gilbert Ogilvy (sic)5 Gardner as assistant surgeons listed in the East-India Register and Directory for 1819 (p. 113) leaves little doubt that both traveled as appointed assistant surgeons in 1806. As already mentioned, the military officials picked up the spelling of the surname "Mathew" with one "t" from the diploma degree of the Royal College of Surgeons and never corrected it in his lifetime.
5 The day these two chaps entered the British military service, two things happened. First, the staff of the British India Office misspelled both their names, Patrick Matthew's as "Patrick Mathew" and Gilbert Ogilvie Gardner's as "Gilbert Ogilvy Gardner." Gilbert's mother was Grisel Elizabeth Ogilvie and Gilbert's second forename was, therefore, Ogilvie not Ogilvy. Second, they were always put next to each other in lists of surgeons or assistant surgeons thus turning Gilbert's unique name into a nice tracer for Patrick's common one.
5. Promotion to surgeon
In the East-India Register and Directory for 1821 (p. 113), both are listed as surgeons. That is, they must have been promoted between 1819 and 1821.
The dates in the above featured list probably registered the arrival of the soldiers at their current station (e.g. Gilbert Ogilvy Gardner arrived at 17 Dec. 1821 in the Civil station, Bauleah).
The exact date of Gilbert Ogilvy's promotion to surgeon has been recorded in The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and its Dependencies (July to Dec. 1822, vol. 14). Under the heading "Military Appointments, Promotions, &c." (beginning at page 183) it says at page 185: "Surg. Gilbert Ogilvie (sic) Gardner to rank from 19th June 1820, vice G. Campbell, retired."
Patrick Matthew's career and death in the service has been registered much later by Lieut.-Colonel D. G. Crawford (1930. Roll of the Indian Medical Service 1615-1930. Vol 1, p. 55).
The abbreviations mean:
b.: born;6 d.: died; A.S.: Assistant Surgeon; Surg.: Surgeon; S.A.L.M.B.: Service Army Lists, Medical, Bengal; P.R.: Prize Rolls; M.R.C.S.: Member, Royal College of Surgeons; M.D. Glas.: Medical Degree, Glasgow; R.: Retired.
6 As the baptism of Patrick Matthew was 16 August 1785 (see 1. Baptism), the year 1784 given by D.G. Crawford is a typo, and so is the year 1785 for Gilbert Ogilvie Gardner, who was born 5 February 1788 (see ScotlandsPeople).
The death of Patrick Matthew/Mathew, the surgeon, has been recorded in an Army & Navy Pension document of the British India Office and in the above cited book by Lieutenant-Colonel Crawford (1930).
|Again, the full record is paywalled.|
Peter/Patrick Matthew, the father of our surgeon from Newbigging seems to have gone on record as yet another Patrick Matthew in an old tax roll (1797-1798) that is online here. The picture below shows that Peter/Patrick Matthew from Newbigging in the red ellipse:
At that time, Patrick Matthew from Gourdiehill was only 7 years old and surely did not pay taxes for farm horses. Apparently, this Peter/Patrick Matthew from Newbigging also signed the preface of a book by David Young published in 1788, when our Gourdiehill chap had not even been born (see here). And there's even a fourth Patrick Matthew from Sherifftown. (This was the uncle of Gourdiehill Patrick Matthew, who took it upon him to act on behalf of the latter's deceased father, his brother John Matthew, who died intestate at 1 November 1807.)
As already mentioned, treating the forenames Peter and Patrick as if they were identical has been fairly common among officials in Scotland. Our Gourdiehill Patrick Matthew also got called Peter Matthew in a copy of the Errol churchyard, where he's been buried (ht to Julian Derry):
The marriage of Margaret Matthew (daughter of Patrick Matthew, surgeon from Newbigging) was announced in the The Perthshire Courier, 27th April, 1837, page 3, column 1. It reads:
"Married, at 13, Marshall Place, on the 25th inst., by the Rev. James Esdaile, John Campbell, junr. Esq. of Kinloch, of the Madras Army, to Margaret, only daughter of the latePatrick Matthew, Esq. Surgeon on the Hon. East India Company's Bengal Establishment."
The first error in this comedy of mistaken identities
Apparently, the lives of the two namesakes have been scrambled together as early as 1831, only one year after the surgeon from Newbigging had died in India, in a vitriolic review of the book by the orchard owner from Gourdiehill (ht to Mike Weale from PMP). The anonymous reviewer of the Edinburgh Literary Journal, or Weekly Register of Criticism and Belles Lettres (2 July 1831, vol. 6, no. 138, pp. 1-4) speculated:
"Mr Patrick Matthew, as we understand, is a small landowner on Gourdie hill, near Errol, in Perthshire, an inconsiderable orchardist, if we may so speak, who has a house, with a garden and shrubbery, where he makes experiments on fruit-trees. Having been engaged, in his youth, in a seafaring line of life, probably as surgeon's mate to a man-of-war, he has acquired some acquaintance with the form and structure of a ship, with a quantum sufficit of naval slang. At one time or another also, it is possible that he may have been under-forester to some nobleman or gentleman in the neighbourhood. At all events, he has now amassed a little wealth; is owner of a couple of sea vessels that trade from Perth or Dundee to the Baltic; and, in a word, he considers himself as fully competent to enlighten the world on “Naval Architecture and Arboriculture.” "It is true that Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill owned land with an orchard (big at that) and, later in life, was co-owner of two sloops trading with the Baltic (ht Anne Carroll). He also grew timber on some leased patches, but the stuff about a seafaring youth as a surgeon's mate is probably the first mix-up of the surgeon from Newbigging with the orchadist from Gourdiehill.
While Edinburgh University seems to be a likely source for revolutionary ideas about geology and biology at the time, we have no palpable proof for Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill having been educated, there, as a regular student. In the shortest case, he went to Edinburgh for one chemistry lecture in October 1808—a form of edutainment. In the longest case, he did spend some weeks, but less than than three month, there for an educational leave serving his self-improvement as an estate manager. He surely did not attend in 1804-05 and 1805-06.
Edinburgh University's record of a historical alumnus called "Patrick Matthew" (see section: The misattributed matriculation record) is definitely a compound record of two namesakes. Patrick Matthew, the medical student from Newbigging, studied medicine in 1804-05 and 1805-06, got a diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1806, went to India as an assistant surgeon thereafter, got promoted to surgeon in 1820, and died there in 1830. The contribution of the orchard owner from Gourdiehill to this compound record has been detailed in the previous paragraph. As the only son with fife sisters and a widowed mother, he would hardly have gone to study a full curricular course of studies at a university, when he had to manage the family estate.
Anyway, with this state of affairs, speculating about Gourdiehill P.M.'s tutelage under Prof. Thomas Charles Hope (see Dempster 1996) is mere speculation. Worse still, suggesting a link of knowledge transfer from James Hutton to Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill via the chemistry professor is spinning a new myth from mere speculation.