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John Edmonstone

Person who taught Charles Darwin Taxidermy and fuelled his curiosity on evolution

John was a freed black slave from Guyana, South America, who made his living in Edinburgh teaching University students the art of taxidermy. He lived at 37 Lothian Street in Edinburgh, just a few doors down from where Charles Darwin and his brother, Erasmus, lived. John learned his trade from Charles Waterton, an early 1800's British naturalist.

While Darwin was a student at Edinburgh University he hired John to teach him taxidermy. The two of them often sat together for conversation and John would fill Darwin's head with vivid pictures of the tropical rain forests of South America. These pleasant conversations with John may have later inspired Darwin to dream about exploring the tropics. In any event, the taxidermy skills Darwin learned from him were indispensable during his voyage aboard H.M.S. Beagle in 1831.

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