Matthew Forster Heddle

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Matthew Forster Heddle (28 April 1828 – 19 November 1897), Scottish mineralogist, was born at Hoy in Orkney.


After receiving his early education at Edinburgh Academy, he entered as a medical student at the university in that city, and subsequently studied chemistry and mineralogy at Klausthal and Freiburg. In 1851 he took his degree of MD at Edinburgh, and for about five years practised there.

In the 1850s, together with Patrick Dudgeon, he undertook a survey of the Faroe Islands also collecting many minerals. This was followed by similar survey expeditions to the Shetland Islands and Orkney. They co-founded the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain in 1876.[1]

Medical work, however, possessed for him little attraction. He became an assistant to Prof. Connell, who held the chair of chemistry at St Andrews, and in 1862 succeeded him as professor. This post he held until in 1880 he was invited to report on some gold mines in South Africa. On his return he devoted himself with great assiduity to mineralogy, and formed one of the finest collections by means of personal exploration in almost every part of Scotland. His specimens are now in the Royal Scottish Museum at Edinburgh.

It had been his intention to publish a comprehensive work on the mineralogy of Scotland. This he did not live to complete, but the manuscripts fell into able hands, and The Mineralogy of Scotland, in 2 vols, edited by JG Goodchild, was issued in 1901.

Heddle was one of the founders of the Mineralogical Society, and he contributed many articles on Scottish minerals, and on the geology of the northern parts of Scotland, to the Mineralogical Magazine, as well as to the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

He was a keen amateur mountaineer and one of the first honorary members of the Scottish Mountaineering Club. He is known to have climbed with his friend, the artist Colin Philp, and the chemist, William Inglis Clark.[2]


  • Dr. Heddle and his Geological Work (with portrait), by JG Goodchild, Trans. Edin. Geol. Soc. (1898) vii. 317.
  • M. Forster Heddle and R. P. Greg, Esq. "On British Pectolites", April 1855, Philosophical Magazine, pp. 1–6
  • M. Forster Heddle "Mesolite and Faröelite (Mesole)",January 1857, Philosophical Magazine, pp. 1–6.

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Matthew Forster Heddle in libraries (WorldCat catalog)


  1. ^ Meteorological Magazine Nov 1895 pp30-31
  2. ^