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John Edmonstone

British scientist
The basics
Date of birth Demerara, The Guianas
The details

John Edmonstone was a black enslaved man probably born in Demarara, British Guiana (present day Guyana, South America), who later gained his freedom. He learned taxidermy from Charles Waterton, whose father-in-law Charles Edmonstone (b. 1793, Cardross Park, Dumbarton, Scotland - 1822, Demerara, Br. Guiana) had a plantation in Demarara.

After he was freed, John came to Glasgow with his former master, Charles Edmonstone. From there he moved to Edinburgh (37 Lothian Street), where he taught taxidermy to students at Edinburgh University, including Charles Darwin.

Edmonstone gave Charles Darwin inspiring accounts of tropical rain forests in South America and may have encouraged Darwin to explore there. Certainly the taxidermy Darwin learnt from Edmonstone helped him greatly during the voyage of the Beagle.

Edmonstone is one of Patrick Vernon's "100 Great Black Britons".

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