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The Scottish Nation

LYELL, a surname derived from de Lisle, modernised into De Lyle, first assumed by the proprietors of some of the western isles in the reign of Malcolm Canmore. It is the same as the English Lisle, at one period De L’Isle, one ancient family of that surname having borrowed it from the Isle of Wight, and another from the Isle of Ely.

      The Lyells of Kinnordy in Forfarshire, an estate once possessed by the Invercarity branch of the noble house of Airlie, have distinguished themselves by their scientific and geological attainments. Charles Lyell, Esq. of Kinnordy, an eminent botanist, and for many years vice-lieutenant of Forfarshire, who died November 8th 1849, was the discoverer of a great number of British plants previously unknown. so high was the estimation in which he was held that a genus of plants (Lyellia) was named after him by Mr. Robert Brown, and Sir William Hooker and Professor Lindley, two botanists of the first distinction, each dedicated one of their works to him. He was educated at the college of St. Andrews, and afterwards went to the university of Cambridge. In 1826 he returned to his paternal estate, in the parish of Kirriemuir, where he devoted himself to scientific, botanical, and literary pursuits. He translated the lyrical poems of Dante, the first edition of which, printed at his own cost, was so well received that a London publisher obtained permission to issue a second on his own account. His essay on ‘The Anti-Papal Spirit of Dante’ shows a profound knowledge of mediaeval Italian literature and history, and is full of enlarged and philosophical views. His collection of the various editions of that great Italian poet, and the writings of his numerous commentators, and of authors illustrative of Dante and his times, was very great. He also left an extensive botanical library. In the New Statistical Account (article KIRRIEMUIR) it is stated that there is among the archives of the Church of Scotland a MS., written by Mr. Lyell, containing a valuable and elaborate article on the habitat of the plants of the parish of Kirriemuir, beginning at its lower extremity to the south, and extending to the high lands of Glenprosen. His eldest son, Sir Charles Lyell, president of the Geological Society in 1836-7, and author of ‘Principles of Geology,’ 3 vols, London, 1830-3; ‘Elements of Geology,’ 2 vols. Lond., 1838; both of which works have passed through several editions; ‘Travels in North America; with Geological Observations on the United States, Canada, and Nova Scotia,’ 2 vols, 12mo, London, 1845; ‘A Second Visit to the United States,’ 2 vols, 8vo, London, 1849; and various papers in scientific journals, was knighted at Balmoral by Queen Victoria in 1848. Born at Kinnordy in 1797, he married in 1832 the eldest daughter of Leonard Horner, Esq.

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