Andrew Balfour (botanist)

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Sir Andrew Balfour (18 January 1630 – 9 or 10 January 1694[1]) was a Scottish doctor, botanist, antiquary and book collector, the youngest brother of the antiquarian Sir James Balfour, 1st Baronet.[2]


Andrew Balfour was educated at the University of St Andrews, where he was mentored by his brother James, and studied philosophy and arithmetic under Thomas Glegg. Graduating with an MA, he moved to London and in 1650 became a pupil to John Wedderburn, the King's physician. He travelled in France, studying in Paris and at the University of Caen, where he gained a degree with a dissertation entitled De Venae Sectione in Dysenteria. As a student he spent much time with his friend Sir Robert Sibbald, the two travelling together and studying together. Returning to London, he became a governor to John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, travelling to Italy with him in 1667.[2]

In 1667 Balfour set up medical practice in St Andrews. By this time he had amassed a large collection of scientific and medical books, curiosities and instruments: his 'rarities' were called the 'Museaum Balfourianum' by contemporaries. In 1670 he moved to set up practice in Edinburgh.[1] He planted a small botanical garden next to his house. He became a friend of Robert Sibbald, whom he succeeded as third president of the College of Physicians in 1684.[2] Balfour and Sibbald set up a garden together near Holyrood Abbey, which Balfour subsequently persuaded the university to fund.[1]

After Balfour's death his library was sold, with a printed catalogue listing 3,501 items.[3] Travel advice to Patrick Murray, Laird of Livingstone (who had died on European tour in 1671) was subsequently published as Letters to a Friend (1700).[2]


  • Letters written to a Friend by the learned and judicious Sir Andrew Balfour, M.D. containing excellent direction and advices for travelling thro' France and Italy, 1700


  1. ^ a b c Janet Browne, 'Balfour, Sir Andrew, first baronet (1630–1694), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Sept 2010, accessed 5 October 2010
  2. ^ a b c d Ovenden, Richard (1999), "Sir James Balfour and Sir Andrew Balfour", in Baker, William; Womack, Kenneth, Pre-Nineteenth-Century British Book Collectors and Bibliographers, Dictionary of Literary Biography 213, Detroit: Gale Group 
  3. ^ Bibliotheca Balfouriana, sive catologus librorum, in quavis lingua & facultate insignium illustri viri D. Andreae Balfourii M.D. & Equitis aurati, 1695. 1,473 of the books were categorized as 'Libri medici, pharmaceutici, chirurgici anatomici, chymici, botannici & naturalis historiae scriptores'. Other books of Balfour's appear to have been sold with those of his older brother James in 1699.

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