Richard Pulteney

Richard Pulteney, M.D. (1730-1801) established himself as a prominent botanist in Leicester during the 1750s and 1760s; he removed to Blandford in 1765 as a physician, having just completed his medical studies at Edinburgh. He hoped his stay at Blandford would be temporary, but that was not the case. He married Elizabeth Galton of Blandford in 1779 and in 1782 published A General View of the Writings of Linnaeus, which further enhanced his reputation as a botanist. He was elected a member of the Linnean Society in 1790. The connection between Mary Scott and Pulteney is not known (he may have treated her for her rheumatism or treated her father prior to his death in 1774). However, Pulteney is connected to other members of the Steele circle. Originally from Leicester, he attended the Great Meeting (Presbyterian) congregation there, and knew both Coltman families (Elizabeth Coltman, Mary Steele’s friend, and the family of Elizabeth Coltman Heyrick) and the Reid family, which included Coltman’s close friend (and later that of Mary Steele), Mary Reid, all of whom also attended the Great Meeting. As Samuel Coltman writes in his Journal, Mary Reid was ‘the old friend of our family’s so often alluded to in the letters of Dr Pulteney and the sister to Dr Reid; both of them distinguished for talents in the society they frequented’ (Leicestershire Record Office, 15D57/449). Lonsdale (Eighteenth-Century Women Poets, p. 320) incorrectly assumes Pulteney is Scott’s early muse, having missed the reference to Mary Steele’s father; it may be, however, that Pulteney, a Unitarian, played some role in Mary Scott’s rejection of Calvinism in the late 1770s.