William Wright (botanist)

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William Wright FRS FRSE FRCPE FLS FSA Scot MWS (1735–1819) was a Scottish physician and botanist.


Born in March 1735 in Crieff, Perthshire, he studied at Crieff Grammar School and then University of Edinburgh, and obtained a medical degree at St. Andrews (MD 1763). He served as an apprentice with G Dennistoun in Falkirk (1752-6),[1] and became a navy surgeon in 1760.

In 1764 Wright became the assistant to a Dr. Gray in Kingston, Jamaica. He stayed on the island until 1777. He enrolled in the British Navy in 1779 and was captured by the French. He returned to Jamaica in 1782 and the following year became Physician in Chief of the colony. He returned to Edinburgh in 1785. He joined an expedition led by Sir Ralph Abercromby (1734–1801) exploring the Caribbean from 1796 to 1798.

William Wright became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1778. He was a member in numerous societies, among them the Linnean Society of London of which he became associate member in 1807; the Wernerian Natural History Society in 1808, of which he was a founding member; the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, over which he presided in 1801.[2]

Wright published numerous articles in medicine. His Jamaican collections became an important contribution to natural history. Notably, he described more than 750 plant species.

The genus Wrightia (Apocynaceae) and Wrightea (syn. Wallichia, Arecaceae) were dedicated to him. Wrightia was by Robert Brown (1773–1858) and Wrightea by William Roxburgh (1759–1815).


  • Ray Desmond (1994). Dictionary of British and Irish Botanists and Horticulturists including Plant Collectors, Flower Painters and Garden Designers. Taylor & Francis and The Natural History Museum (Londres).
  1. ^ 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. Retrieved 8 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Dictionary of National Biography. Volume 1. p. 1442 (1903)
  3. ^ IPNI.  W.Wright.