William Gardiner died in June, 1852. He had been ‘indisposed’ for some time but hopes were raised for his recovery when he went out for a walk on the 10th June to ‘take the fresh air’; sadly he caught a ‘fever’ and died on the 21st – aged 43.
He was born in Dundee, and at the age of ten he was apprenticed to an umbrella maker. After 5 years, he moved to the shop of Mr G Robertson – umbrella maker and hosier, with whom he stayed until 1844. When he was able, he would explore the local neighbourhood up into the Sidlaw Hills, Auchmithie etc gradually increasing his knowledge of the flora. In 1846, he produced ‘Twenty lessons on British Mosses‘, at a cost of 3s 6d.
He eventually extended his rambles into excursions into Forfarshire and Perthshire. He compiled A Flora of Forfarshire (1848). On these trips he would collect plants for others such as the The Botanical Society of Edinburgh – who were so pleased with their collection (1838) that he was elected an associate member. The Botanical Society of London also made use of his services.
He decided that he might be able to make a living by collecting and selling Scottish plants, and left the employ of Mr. Robertson. Many English botanists’ collections were ‘enriched’ by his specimens & rarities.
The London journal of botany, Volume 3, 1844
He also received orders for volumes of dried plants. One such order was received from George Stephenson (of Rocket fame). Stephenson paid Gardiner two guineas for each of the sixteen volumes ordered, plus an additional 5 guineas as he was so pleased with the work.
Gardiner married (in 1843) Elizabeth Ross Smith, who pre-deceased him in 1850. When he died, he left a son – James Edward Smith Gardiner.
Further information – see Google Books : Chambers Edinburgh Journal