A special celebration for forgotten pioneer
Carse man beat Darwin to selection theory
Descendants of a Carse of Gowrie man credited with discovering the process of natural selection long before Darwin, will gather in Perthshire this month to remember his legacy.
For various reasons, Patrick Matthew’s contribution to science has been largely overlooked, something many would like to see rectified.
Between Friday and Sunday, the Patrick Matthew Memorial Weekend will includes tours, talks and lectures to mark his achievements.
A 19th Century Carse of Gowrie landowner, Matthew was an apple hybridist, businessman and orchardist who contributed to the understanding of horticulture and agriculture in general.
He created the largest Carse orchard on record, of 10,000 trees and it was through tree cultivation that he discovered what he coined “the natural process of selection” and published it in 1831 – 28 years before Darwin’s The Origins of Species.
The Patrick Matthew Memorial Project is a collaboration between the Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group (CoGSG), Matthew expert Dr Mike Sutton and Matthew’s descendants from America, Germany, Holland and New Zealand, many of whom are attending the weekend.
It aims to promote his legacy through the Patrick Matthew Trail, which uses local features to tell his story.
The project is also a collaboration with the group’s junior division, the Junior Carsonians, who are hosting an exhibition.
“Two years ago, Patrick Matthew was relatively unknown here in the Carse, so this project, funded by the Heritage Lottery, aims to promote one of our most famous Carsonians,” said Fiona Ross, chairwoman of the group.
Patrick’s son John, who was gold mining in California, came across a glade of massive redwood, sending seeds to his father. This helped create another family legacy – a seed reserve across Scotland.
Patrick Matthew died penniless and was buried in the family lair in Errol Graveyard but no headstone was erected and over time, the location of his grave had been forgotten.
Now thanks to local historians the council’s archive, the grave has been identified and his descendants intend to work together to finally install a headstone.
“This project aims to promote one of our most famous Carsonians
The graveyard in Errol which was the final resting place of Patrick Matthew, above, who is credited with discovering the process of natural selection almost 30 years before Charles Darwin.