LOW, GEORGE, an ingenious naturalist,
was born at Edzel in Forfarshire, in the year 1746. He was educated at the
universities of Aberdeen and St Andrews, and afterwards was tutor in the
family of Mr Graham at Stromness in Orkney. During his residence at this
place, Mr (afterwards Sir Joseph) Banks and Dr Solander arrived at the
island, on their return from the last voyage of discovery, in which captain
Cook lost his life; and Mr Low, having acquired a taste for natural history,
was much noticed by these distinguished philosophers, and was requested to
accompany them in their excursions through the Orkneys, and also to the
Shetland islands, which he accordingly did.
In 1774, he was ordained to the
ministerial charge of the parish of Birsay and Staray, on the mainland of
Orkney, to which he devoted the remainder of his life, employing his leisure
in the study of nature. Considering the disadvantages of his situation, his
success was highly creditable. Sir Joseph Banks, with his accustomed zeal
for the promotion of science, introduced him to Mr Pennant, by whose advice
he engaged to undertake a "Fauna Orcadensis," and a "Flora Orcadensis."
Before these works could be given to the world, he died, in 1795. The MSS.
of the former work, with his zoological collections, and the manuscript of a
translation of Torfaeus’s History of Orkney, executed by Mr Low, came into
the possession of Mr George Paton, the eminent antiquary, at whose decease
they were sold to different persons. The "Fauna" was published in 1813, 4to,
by W.F. Leach, M.D., F.L.S., and forms a very interesting addition to the
natural history of the British Islands. The "Flora" has not been discovered.
A tour through Orkney and Shetland, containing hints relative to their
ancient, modern, and natural history, was also prepared for the press by
this industrious individual, but, owing to his premature death, was never
to our Significant Scots page