Varied life of Great Aberdonian celebrated in public lecture

The varied life of an Aberdonian who served as a soldier, director of one of the world's largest companies, a University rector and an MP will be celebrated in the latest instalment of a popular public lecture series.

Colonel William Sykes (1790-1872) is the subject for the next event in the Great Aberdonians series, organised by the University of Aberdeen’s Research Institute for Irish and Scottish Studies.

Dr Mark Beecroft, from the University of Aberdeen, will present the free lecture to be held on Tuesday June 3 in the St Nicholas Room of the Town House.

He said: “William Sykes had an interesting and varied life and was very much a great Aberdonian.

“He joined the service of the East India Company in 1803 and served first as a soldier and then as the Statistical Report to the Bombay Government conducting statistical and natural history research.

“He returned to Britain in 1831 and took an active role in a wide range of scientific communities including the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society, the Royal Asiatic Society and the Statistical Society of London.

“He was elected a Director of the East India Company in 1840 and became Chair in 1856. In 1857 Sykes was elected in the Liberal interest as MP for and had earlier served as Lord Rector of Marischal College and University in 1854.

“Sykes’ multifaceted career engages a range of significant themes associated with the history of science, politics and imperialism and I hope to demonstrate he deserves his place among the Granite City greats.”

Dr Isabella Jackson, organiser of the Great Aberdonians series, added: “The popularity of the lecture series continues to grow and we are welcoming good audiences to the events.

“The community has been interested to hear about the lives of our Aberdonian ancestors and I’m sure Colonel William Sykes interesting and varied life will prove a great topic for discussion.”

Great Aberdonians is free of charge and booking is not required. The lecture will be held in the St Nicholas Room, Town House, Union Street, Aberdeen and begins at 7.30pm.