A special cel­e­bra­tion for for­got­ten pi­o­neer

Carse man beat Dar­win to se­lec­tion the­ory

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - Go to www.carseus.org/ for de­tails of the week­end’s events. rbur­dge@the­courier.co.uk richard bur­dge

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

Pic­ture left: Phil Han­nah.

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.

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