James David Forbes (1809-1868)

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Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1833-1859

Forbes was born in Edinburgh, the son of Sir William Forbes, 7th Baronet. 1n 1825, he matriculated to study at the University of Edinburgh. At the age of 19 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 1832, aged 23, he was elected to the Royal Society of London.

He was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy in 1833, following the death of Sir John Leslie (1766-1832), and held the post until 1859. He is credited not only as an excellent teacher, but for his wider contribution to the development of the university over nearly three decades. In 1859 he became Principal of the United College (part of the University of St Andrews. He held this post until his death on 31 Dec 1868.

This article is a sketch outline biography. Our intention is to flesh it out with further detail in due course.