Andrew Balfour (botanist)

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Andrew Balfour
Born (1630-01-18)18 January 1630
Died 10 January 1694(1694-01-10) (aged 63)
Education University of St Andrews
Relatives Sir James Balfour, 1st Baronet
Medical career
Profession physician, botanist
Specialism botanic medicine
Research botany, medicine

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 born on 18 January 1630 at Balfour Castle in Fife. Balfour received his early education at the parish school of Abdie before studying philosophy at St. Andrews, where he studied philosophy and arithmetic under Thomas Glegg and graduated with an MA in 1650. Balfour’s oldest brother, Sir James Balfour, encouraged him to collect literary, antiquarian and natural history objects. He moved to London and in 1650 became a pupil to John Wedderburn, the King's physician. After London, Balfour travelled to France in 1657 where he studied medicine in Paris and at the University of Caen. Balfour obtained a degree with a dissertation entitled De Venae Sectione in Dysenteria. Returning to London, he became a governor end of 1661 to John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, travelling to France and Italy with him from end of 1661 to 1664.[3]

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. Balfour's cousin was Robert Sibbald, whom he succeeded as third president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh in 1684.[2] Balfour and Sibbald set up a garden together near Holyrood Abbey, which Balfour subsequently persuaded the university to fund.[1] Balfour and Sibbald were also key figures in the creation of the Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia.

After Balfour's death his library was sold, with a printed catalogue listing 3,501 items.[4] 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 [5]


  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 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. ^ <,_2nd_Earl_of_Rochester/>
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^

Further reading[edit]