Patrick Geddes the son of Janet Stevenson and soldier Alexander Geddes, Patrick Geddes was born in Ballater, Aberdeenshire, and educated at Perth Academy.
He studied at the Royal College of Mines in London under Thomas Henry Huxley between 1874 and 1877, never finishing any degree and he then spent the year 1877-1878 as a demonstrator in the Department of Physiology in University College London where he met Charles Darwin in Sanderson's Lab. He lectured in Zoology at Edinburgh University from 1880 to 1888.
He married Anna Morton (1857–1917), who was the daughter of a wealthy merchant, in 1886 when he was 32 years old. They had three children: Norah, Alasdair and Arthur. During a visit to India in 1917 Anna fell ill with typhoid fever and died, not knowing that their son Alasdair had been killed in action in France.
Geddes wrote with J. Arthur Thomson an early book on The Evolution of Sex (1889). He held the Chair of Botany at University College Dundee from 1888 to 1919, and the Chair of Sociology at the University of Bombay from 1919 to 1924. He inspired Victor Branford to form the Sociological Society in 1903 to promote his sociological views.
While he thought of himself primarily as a sociologist, it was his commitment to close social observation and ability to turn these into practical solutions for city design and improvement that earned him a "revered place amongst the founding fathers of the British town planning movement”. He was a major influence on the American urban theorist Lewis Mumford.
He was knighted in 1932, shortly before his death in Montpellier, France on 17 April 1932. Geddes was the father-in-law of the urban planner Frank Charles Mears.