William Anderson (naturalist)
William Anderson (28 December 1750 North Berwick, East Lothian – 3 August 1778 Bering Sea) was a Scottish naturalist, one of the seven children of schoolmaster Robert Anderson and Jean (née Melvil). William studied medicine at Edinburgh University for the period 1766–68. He enlisted in the navy and qualified on 1 December 1768 as surgeon's first mate, being promoted to surgeon on 1 November 1770 and posted to the vessel HMS Barfleur (1768–1819).
Anderson accompanied James Cook on his second voyage, boarding the Resolution on 12 December 1771 as surgeon's mate. Anderson proved to be diligent and was chosen to accompany Cook on his third voyage as surgeon and naturalist, joining the Resolution again on 15 February 1776.
Though he had received no formal training as a naturalist, Anderson proved to be more than capable. He described and put together a large collection of specimens for Joseph Banks and added considerably to the knowledge of Pacific languages. He is commemorated by the botanical subgenus Andersonia.
Anderson died of consumption on 3 August 1778 while the Resolution was on the Bering Sea. Shortly before dying he made a will leaving most of his estate to his sisters, Beth and Robinah, and to his mother's brother, William Melvil. In a letter to the Earl of Sandwich, Joseph Banks states that Anderson's family received the moneys due to them.
Disturbed by Anderson's death, Cook wrote:
He was a sensible young man, an agreeable companion, well skilled in his profession ... and to perpetuate the memory of the deceased for whom I had a very great regard, I named [it] Andersons Island.