Robert Jameson lived from 1774 to 1854. He was a naturalist and mineralogist. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Robert Jameson was born in Leith and attended school in Edinburgh. His ambition was to go to sea as a surgeon, and he became an apprentice to a surgeon in Leith. He also attended lectures at the University of Edinburgh. Under the influence of the Professor of Natural History, John Walker, Jameson abandoned his plan to become a surgeon and instead focused his interests on geology and mineralogy. Amongst his fellow students at the University of Edinburgh were Robert Brown and Thomas Dick.
John Walker began to lose his sight in 1797, and Jameson increasingly gave his lectures for him. Walker died in 1803 and the following year was succeeded by the 30 year old Johnson as Regius Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh (the title "Regius" implying a professorship created by a monarch and in which appointments are subject to royal approval). Jameson went on to hold the post for 50 years until his death in 1854.
During his tenure, he built up a vast collection of over 74,000 zoological and geological specimens including fossils, birds and insects. After his death his collection, which was second only to that held by the British Museum, passed to the National Museum for Scotland. As a teacher, Jameson was said to be able to impart enthusiasm in his students on whatever subject he was covering, and he did a great deal to promote the study of geology during the first half of the 1800s. He also wrote prolifically, producing books such as Mineralogy of the Scottish Isles (1800), and the Manual of Mineralogy (1821). He was also, with Sir David Brewster, a founder of the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal and in 1824 he became its sole editor. Robert Jameson died in Edinburgh in 1854.