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Patrick Matthew, Identified on his Calling Cards as "The Discoverer of Natural Selection"


In 1831 Scottish landowner and fruit farmer Patrick Matthew published from Edinburgh On Naval Timber and Arboriculture with Critical Notes on Authors Who Have Recently Treated the Subject of Planting. From statements made in this book Matthew is considered the first to clearly and completely anticipate the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution by natural selection. Matthew used the expression “natural process of selection” and was acknowledged by Darwin in the third and subsequent editions of his Origin: “Mr. Patrick Matthew . . . gives precisely the same view on the origin of species as that . . . propounded by Mr. Wallace and myself.” Matthew’s anticipation of Darwin is found in the appendix to his little-read book on arboriculture; however, he gives no scientific evidence for his view. Even so, Matthew had cards printed up identifying himself as “the discoverer of natural selection.”

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 216.3.

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