Royal Society of Edinburgh

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Royal Society of Edinburgh
Arms of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.jpg
Arms of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
The Royal Society Building, George Street, Edinburgh.jpg
The Royal Society building, at the junction of George Street and Hanover Street in the New Town
Motto Societas Regalis Edinburgi
Founder(s) Colin Maclaurin and Alexander Monro, primus (instrumental in founding the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh)
William Cullen, Alexander Monro, secundus and William Robertson (instrumental in obtaining the royal charter)
Established 1737 – diverged from the Royal Medical Society
1783 – received royal charter
Mission Scotland's National Academy
Focus science and technology
arts
humanities
social science
business
public service
President Sir John Arbuthnott
Chief Executive Dr William Duncan
Staff 34
Key people Prof Alan Alexander, General Secretary
Budget £5.9 million
Members 1570 Fellows, including 66 Honorary Fellows and 65 Corresponding Fellows
Subsidiaries RSE Scotland Foundation
RSE Young Academy of Scotland
Owner Registered charity No. SC000470
Formerly called Philosophical Society of Edinburgh
Location New Town, Edinburgh, Scotland
Address 22–26 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PQ
Website www.royalsoced.org.uk
Royal Society of Edinburgh logo (full colour).svg
The cover of a 1788 volume of the journal Transaction of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This is the issue where James Hutton published his Theory of the Earth.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland's national academy of science and letters. It is a registered charity, operating on a wholly independent and non-party-political basis and providing public benefit throughout Scotland. Established in 1783, it has since then drawn upon the strengths and expertise of its Fellows, of which there are currently more than 1500.

The Society covers a broader selection of fields than the Royal Society of London including literature and history. Unlike similar organisations in the rest of the UK, the Fellowship includes people from a wide range of disciplines – science & technology, arts, humanities, medicine, social science, business and public service. This breadth of expertise makes the Royal Society of Edinburgh unique in the UK.

History[edit]

At the start of the 18th 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 Society for the Improvement of Medical Knowledge, commonly referred to as the Medical Society of Edinburgh, co-founded by the mathematician Colin Maclaurin in 1731.

Maclaurin was unhappy with the specialist nature of the Medical Society,[1] and in 1737 a new, broader society, the Edinburgh Society for Improving Arts and Sciences and particularly Natural Knowledge was split from the specialist medical organisation, which then went on to become the Royal Medical Society.

The cumbersome name was changed the following year to the Edinburgh Philosophical Society. 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.

As the end of the century drew near, the younger members such as 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 (1808–58), 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 (1808–21) 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 19th 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[citation needed] and the society once again could unify its membership under one journal.

During the 19th century the society produced many scientists whose ideas laid the foundation of the modern sciences. From the 20th century onward, the society functioned not only as a 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 Sir John Arbuthnott. The President-elect (due to take over as President in October 2014) is Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Accommodation[edit]

The Royal Society has been housed in a succession of locations:[2]

List of Presidents of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[edit]

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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 (1970–1973)
  31. Lord Cameron (1973–1976)
  32. Professor Robert Allan 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 (2008–2011)
  44. Sir John Peebles Arbuthnott (2011–October 2014)
  45. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (October 2014-2017)

Notable Fellows[edit]

Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, are denoted by the use of the initialism or post-nominal FRSE in official titles.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Royal Society of Edinburgh". School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews. Retrieved 22 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Waterston, Charles D (1996). "The Home of the Royal Society of Edinburgh". Extracted from the Year Book, R.S.E., 1996. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 

External links[edit]