Thomas Stewart Traill

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Thomas Stewart Traill
The grave of Thomas Stewart Traill, St Cuthbert's churchyard, Edinburgh

Professor Thomas Stewart Traill FRSE PRCPE MWS RSSA (29 October 1781 – 30 July 1862) was a Scottish physician, chemist, meteorologist, zoologist and scholar of medical jurisprudence. He was the grandfather of the physicist, meteorologist and geologist Robert Traill Omond FRSE (1858-1914).

Early life[edit]

Traill was born at Kirkwall in Orkney, the son of the Rev Thomas Traill (died 1782), the minister in Kirkwall, and studied at the University of Edinburgh (MD 1802).[1] He practiced medicine for 30 years in Liverpool, and was a founder of the Royal Institution of Liverpool, the Liverpool Mechanics' Institution and the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool. He became acquainted with the Arctic explorer William Scoresby, contributing a list of animals observed in eastern Greenland to Scoresby's Journal of a Voyage to the Northern Whale Fishery (1823). Scoresby named Traill Island in Greenland for him.

When John James Audubon arrived in Liverpool in July 1826 Traill helped him to find a publisher for his The Birds of America. Audubon named the Traill's flycatcher after him, which at one time referred to a species which included both the willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) and the alder flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum).

University of Edinburgh and the Encyclopædia Britannica[edit]

Traill returned to the University of Edinburgh in 1832 as a professor of medical jurisprudence, and served in this role until death, also serving as President of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh 1852 to 1854.[1] He edited the 8th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1852–61), which concluded a year before his death.

He was President of the Royal Scottish Society of the Arts 1843-44.[2]

He died in Edinburgh on 30 July 1862, and was interred at St Cuthbert's cemetery.[1] The grave contains members of both the Omond family and Traill family and stands against an outer eastern wall of the southern section.


  1. ^ a b c Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index (PDF). II. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "RSSA: History: Past Presidents". Retrieved 2017-12-26. 

External links[edit]