John Fleming (1785–1857), later professor in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, made his combative contribution to natural history between 1812 and 1832. As an Edinburgh student he had followed Robert Jameson's ‘Wernerian’ lead. His earliest publications, from 1813, expressed what was to be a lifelong hostility to the work of James Hutton. Yet his own thinking moved increasingly towards a ‘uniformitarian’ as opposed to a ‘catastrophist’ view of earth history. His Philosophy of Zoology (1822) embodied criticism of Cuvier. More dramatically, he became embroiled in controversy with Buckland and later with Conybeare. By then the ‘uniformitarian’ hypothesis had been adopted by Lyell, with whom Fleming was in close touch from the mid-1820s. Fleming may have had some grounds for feeling that his priority in advocating uniformitarianism was later overlooked. His History of British Animals (1828) included a preface in which he elaborated his earlier hypothesis as to ‘revolutions … in the animal kingdom’ correlated with six geological epochs. Tension had then developed in Fleming's relationship with Jameson, and the early 1830s found him in a mood of increasing frustration. Reconciliation with Buckland and approval by Sedgwick still left ‘the Zoological Ishmael’ feeling that his advancement in the scientific world was blocked, perhaps permanently. In historical perspective Fleming may be seen as a minor but not insubstantial figure in the scientific landscape of the early nineteenth century.