George James Allman (1844-1856)
George Allman (1812-98) was appointed to the Chair of Botany in 1844. A recent medical graduate and an accomplished naturalist with an interest in marine zoology, it may seem surprising that he was appointed to the chair ahead of the only other candidate, W.H. Harvey, who at the time was by far the best known botanist in Ireland. Harvey had already gained an international reputation in Botany, but the Board evidently considered this unsuitable for appointment to a Chair in the School of Physic. Allman evidently had little interest in the curation of the herbarium, then part of the Chair’s duties, and gave up part of his salary thus enabling the appointment of Harvey as Herbarium Curator. Allman left Trinity in 1856 on his appointment as Regius Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh, a post he held from 1856 to retirement in 1870; however his links with Scotland clearly developed while still serving as the Chair of Botany, as he was Scottish Fisheries Commissioner from 1855 to 1881.
Allman published few paper in Botany, his major scientific contributions were in the fields of marine and freshwater invertebrates, and authored two important books in this area. Born in Cork, he retired to Dorset and is buried in Poole; though married the couple had no children.
Photo: Botany Department, Trinity College Dublin