Geologist and naturalist. Born in Leith, Jameson showed an early interest in natural history and entered the University of Edinburgh in 1788. He went on to study medicine and travelled to London, where he met members of the Linnaean Society. In 1800, Jameson travelled to Freiburg (Germany), where he studied with the noted geologist Abraham Werner for two years. In 1804, he was appointed Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh and became a noted exponent of Werner's Neptunist system of geology, which theorised that all rocks had been deposited from a primaeval ocean. He later found these views untenable and announced his conversion to the opposing theories of Edinburgh geologist James Hutton (1726-97).
His geological field-work took him to the Isle of Arran, the Hebrides and to the Orkney and Shetland islands. Jameson's geological specimens formed the core of collection of the Royal Scottish Museum (Edinburgh).
Jameson was a prolific author of scientific papers and books, including the Mineralogy of the Scottish Isles (1800), his System of Mineralogy (1808), which ran to three editions, his and Manual of Mineralogy (1821). In 1819, with Sir David Brewster (1781 - 1868), Jameson started the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal.
He died in Edinburgh and his bust can be seen in the Upper Library of the University's Old College. The mineral Jamesonite is named in his honour, first identified in Cornwall (England) in 1825 but also present at the Antimony mines at Jamestown in NE Dumfriesshire.