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Medals and Honours awarded to Sir George Taylor

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-939
Identifier: Coll-1257

Scope and Contents

The collection of Medals and Honours is composed of the following awards:

  1. 1 x Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh / German (Junior), Session 1911-1912, Awarded to Annie J. Whitson (bronze medal in presentation case, Alex'r Kirkwood and Son, Medalists, 9 St. James Square, Edinburgh)
  2. 1 x Heriot-Watt College, Edinburgh / German (Intermediate), Session 1912-1913, Awarded to Annie J. Whitson (bronze medal in presentation case, Alex'r Kirkwood and Son, Medalists, 9 St. James Square, Edinburgh)
  3. 1 x The Veitch Memorial Medal, James Veitch born at Killerton May 24 1815 died at Chelsea September 10 1869 / Awarded to Dr. George Taylor for his work on Mecanopsis, December 1934 (silver medal in presentation case, John Pinches, London)
  4. 1 x Societe Botanique de France, 1854-1954. Dr. George Taylor
  5. 1 x Royal Horticultural Society, Victoria Medal / 1837-1897, VRI, RHS [1956] (in presentation case, John Pinches, London)
  6. 1 x Royal Horticultural Society, Victoria Medallist (gold badge, in small box)
  7. 1 x Knight Bachelor. Breast Badge (the MBE, awarded to George Taylor 1962, in presentation case of the Royal Mint)
  8. 1 x The Veitch Memorial Medal, James Veitch born at Killerton died at Chelsea September / Sir George Taylor 1963 (gold medal in presentation case, John Pinches, London)
  9. 1 x International Botanical Congress XI, Seattle 1969 / Sir George Taylor Vice President
  10. 1 x The Bradford Washburn Award / The Museum of Science, Boston, Mass. Presented to Sir George Taylor, Plantsman Extraordinary 1969
  11. 1 x Colloquia Botanicorum XII. MCMLXXV. Leningrad / XXV Years International Association For Plant Taxonomy. Linnaeus / edge inscribed George Taylor
  12. 1 x Scottish Horticultural Medal Inst.SHM 1959 Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society Sir George Taylor [1984]
  13. 1 x Association Francaise pour L'Avancement des Sciences / G. Taylor (in presentation case)
  14. 1 x Kirstenbosch, 1913-1963 [Capetown] (silver medal, not enscribed / not engraved)

The medal struck for Colloquia Botanicorum XII is accompanied by a letter from F. A. Stafleu of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy, Utrecht, dated 25 July 1975, to Sir George Taylor D.Sc., Belhaven House, Dunbar, East Lothian. The letter describes the medal struck by the then Soviet (Russian) organising committee of the 12th International Botanical Congress held in St. Petersburg (then called Leningrad). Apparently only 22 medals were struck.


  • Creation: 1911-1984


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Biographical / Historical

The botanist George Taylor was born on 15 February 1904. He was the son of George William Taylor, a painter, and Jane Sloan who had been in domestic service. He was educated first at Bruntsfield School, then at Boroughmuir, and then at George Heriot's School, all in Edinburgh. He studied at Edinburgh University from which he graduated with the degree of B.Sc. (First Class Honours, Botany) in 1926, and with the award of the prestigious biology prize - the Vans Dunlop Scholarship.

The University's botanical sciences courses had been delivered at the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh, and while studying there he acquired a wide knowledge of the plants of the world. After his graduation, in 1927-28, he participated in a plant expedition to South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zambia and Zimbabwe), and in 1934 he was joint-leader of an expedition to the mountain region of Ruwenzori and other mountainous regions of East Africa. In 1938 he joined Major George Sherriff and Frank Ludlow of the Natural History Museum on an expedition to Bhutan and south eastern Tibet. While in the Himalayas he was able to see the Blue Poppy (Mecanopsis) which had been part of his research and which had culminated in the definitive work about this group of poppies (1934), and for which he was awarded a doctorate (D.Sc., Edinburgh University).

During the Second World War, Taylor served as a principal in the Air Ministry between 1940 and 1945, mostly in Harrogate. After the war however he became Deputy Keeper of Botany at the British Museum (Natural History) from 1945 to 1950, then Keeper of Botany there from 1950 until 1956. On the retiral of Sir Edward Salisbury in 1956, he became Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, a post which he held until 1971. In 1962 he was Knighted (award of MBE) in public recognition of the changes and improvements that he had made and set in motion at Kew.

Taylor wrote An account of the genus Mecanopsis which was published in 1934, and he had contributed on flowering plants to various periodicals. In addition to receiving many many Honours and Medals he was given an Honorary Dr.Phil. from Gothenburg University, Sweden, in 1958, and an Honorary Doctorate by Dundee University, Scotland, in 1972. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1933, was a member of the Royal Society of Science, Uppsala from 1956, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1968.

After his retiral from Kew in 1971, Sir George Taylor became Director of the Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust, a post which he held until the late-1980s when illness made it impossible for him to continue. He died in Dunbar, East Lothian, on 12 November 1993.


1 box containing 14 pieces, and 1 letter

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired March 2010. Accession no: E2010.09.

Related Materials

The National Archives (and its National Register of Archives) notes the following collections: National Library of Scotland, Manuscript Collections, being correspondence and papers 1919-1987; Dundee University Archive, Records Management and Museum Services, being correspondence and papers; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Library and Archives, being correspondence and papers; Commonwealth War Graves Commission, being personnel file for Imperial War Graves Commission 1956; and, British Library, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections (previously Oriental and India Office Library) being correspondence with Reginald Schomberg 1937-1956.

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.

Medals and Honours awarded to Sir George Taylor (1904-1993)
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379