the name of an old family in Fifeshire, proprietors of the estate of
Bennochy, parish of Kirkcaldy.
Matthew Whyte of Maw,
living temp. James III. and James IV., had a charter under the great
seal, dated June 22, 1492, “terrarum de Kilmaron.”
John Whyte, younger son
of David Whyte of Maw, had a son, also named John Whyte, a merchant in
Kirkcaldy, whose son, Robert Whyte, also a merchant in Kirkcaldy, and
the first provost of that royal burgh, purchased Bennochy. Robert’s son,
John Whyte, Esq. of Bennochy, married, for his first wife, Jane,
daughter of Thomas Melville, Esq. of Murdocainry, and died in 1695.
His elder son, Robert
Whyte, Esq. of Bennochy, advocate, died in 1714, having had 2 sons,
George and Robert, and 2 daughters, Jean, married to Ramsay of Balmain,
and Helen, wife of Andrew Melville, Esq., of the family of Carnbee, and
the mother of General Robert Melville of Strathkinnes.
The elder son, George
Whyte, Esq. of Bennochy, died in 1728.
He was succeeded by his
brother, Robert Whyte, of Bennochy, M.D., an eminent physician, born at
Edinburgh, September 6, 1714, six months after his father’s death. He
studied at the university of St. Andrews, and having taken his degree of
M.A., commenced the study of medicine at Edinburgh, and completed it at
London, Paris, and Leyden. In 1736 he had the degree of doctor of
medicine conferred on him by the university of Rheims, and also received
the same honour, on his return, from the university of St. Andrews. In
1737 he was admitted a licentiate of medicine by the Royal College of
physicians in Edinburgh, when he settled in practice in that city, and
the year following he became a fellow of the same college. In 1747 he
was appointed professor of the Institutes of Medicine in the university
of Edinburgh. In 1752 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society of
London; in 1761 he was nominated first physician to the king in
Scotland, an office which was created for him; and in 1764 was chosen
president of the Royal College of physicians at Edinburgh. Dr. Whyte
died of a complication of chronical ailments, April 15, 1766. He was
twice married. His first wife was sister of General Robertson, governor
of New York. By her he had two children, both of whom died in infancy.
His 2d wife was sister of James Balfour, Esq. of Pilrig, and by her, who
died in 1764, he had 14 children, six of whom only survived him, three
sons and three daughters. – His works are: An Essay on the Vital and
other involuntary Motions of Animals. Edin. 1751, 8vo. – An Essay on the
Virtues of Lime-water and Soup in the Cure of Stone. Edin. 1752, 12mo. –
Physiological Essays on the Causes which promote the circulation of the
Fluids in the very small vessels of Animals. On the Sensibility and
Irritability of the Parts of Men and other Animals; occasioned by Dr.
Haller’s Treatise on these Subjects. Edin. 1755, 12mo. – Observations on
the Nature, Causes, and Cure of Nervous, Hypochondriac, or Hysteric
Disorders; to which are prefixed some Remarks on the Sympathy of the
Nerves. Edin. 1765, 8vo. – Observations on the Dropsy of the Brain. Edin.
1768. This work did not appear till two years after his death, when all
his other works were collected and published in one volume, 4to, under
the direction of his son and his intimate friend, Sir John Pringle. –
Besides the works mentioned, he wrote many valuable papers, particularly
in the Philosophical Transactions, the Medical Essays, the Medical
Observations, and the Physical and Literary Essays.
Dr. Whyte’s eldest son,
Robert Whyte, Esq. of Bennochy, died at Naples, unmarried, soon after
his father. He was succeeded by his brother, John Whyte Melville, Esq.
of Bennochy and Strathkinnes, born Feb. 27, 1755. Mr. Whyte Melville
married in 1781, Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Archibald M’Gilchrist,
Esq. of North Bar, Renfrewshire, and had 2 sons, Robert and John, and 4
daughters. He died in May, 1813.
His eldest son, Robert
Whyte Melville, Esq. of Bennochy and Strathkinnes, born Aug. 12, 1794,
died, unmarried, Feb. 26, 1818.
He was succeeded by his
brother, John Whyte Melville, Esq. of Bennochy and Strathkinnes, born in
1797; educated at Eton, and Trinity college, Cambridge; formerly in the
12th Lancers, and afterwards major in the Royal Fifeshire yeomanry
cavalry; a magistrate and deputy-lieutenant for Fifeshire; married in
1819 Lady Catharine Anne Sarah Osborne, youngest daughter of the 5th
duke of Leeds; issue, with 2 daughters, a son, George John, born in
1821, at one time lieutenant and captain Coldstream guards, married
Charlotte, daughter of first Lord Bateman.