Patrick Matthew (1790-1874) was a Scottish landowner with a keen interest in politics and agronomy who also came up with the concept of 'evolution by natural selection' 27 years before Charles Darwin did.Matthew's version of evolution by natural section captures a valuable aspect of the theory that isn't so clear in Darwin's version - namely, that natural selection is a deductive certainty more akin to a 'law' than a hypothesis or theory to be tested.
Whilst Darwin and Wallace's 1858 paper to the Linnean Society, On the Origin of Species, secured their place in the history books, Matthews had set out similar ideas 27 years earlier in his book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture. The book, published in 1831, addressed best practices for the cultivation of trees for shipbuilding, but also expanded on his concept of natural selection.
"There is a law universal in nature, tending to render every reproductive being the best possibly suited to its condition that its kind, or that organized matter, is susceptible of, which appears intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive powers, to their highest perfection, and to continue them so. This law sustains the lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the fox in his wiles." (Matthew, 1831: 364) PR
Visit the Patrick Matthew website