Madeley, United Kingdom
Madeley, United Kingdom

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The authors of an anonymous article on Mary Anning (1799-1847), published in Chambers's journal in 1857, are identified to allow the article to be fully evaluated for the first time. Payment was made to the natural-history writer Frank Buckland (1826-1880). However, he incorporated much material from the books of his friend George Roberts (c. 1804-1860), Lyme Regis historian and schoolmaster, and from, most probably, a manuscript memoir by his father, the geologist William Buckland (1784-1856), recalling the day of the 1800 lightning strike on a group including Anning. This throws new light on their networking, William Buckland's dementia, and George Roberts's activities, including his original observation of the resting-site fidelity of limpets (Patella) and his final years. © The Society for the History of Natural History.


Williams R.B.,Norfolk House | Torrens H.S.,Lower Mill Cottage
Archives of Natural History | Year: 2016

James Scott Bowerbank (1797-1877), author of A history of the fossil fruits and seeds of the London Clay (1840) and A monograph of the British Spongiadae (1864-1882) was an immensely energetic self-taught naturalist, and the founder or co-founder of several famous scientific societies. In 1847, at the age of 50 years, he retired from business as the wealthy joint head of his family's distillery company to devote himself to scientific research. In 1846, such was the extent of his collections of fossils and other specimens already amassed before his retirement, he had been obliged to build a private museum as an extension of his residence at no. 3 Highbury Grove, Islington, London. The fame of this museum, where on Monday evenings in the summer Bowerbank held informal scientific soirées, spread rapidly and attracted many eminent scientists from Great Britain and abroad. Almost as soon as it was built, the museum was immortalized in a curious lithographic cartoon, which jokingly represented it as a typical Victorian London chop-house with various fossils on the menu, making gentle fun of Bowerbank's perceived eccentric obsession with palaeontology. The identities of neither artist nor printer of the cartoon are known for certain, but Edward Forbes is suggested herein as a strong candidate for the possible artist. Nine copies have been traced in London, though none elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Probably it was intended for private circulation among Bowerbank's friends and colleagues. The present paper provides a brief account of the Highbury Grove museum and a description of the remarkable 1846 lithograph. © The Society for the History of Natural History.


Williams R.B.,Norfolk House | Torrens H.S.,Lower Mill Cottage
Archives of Natural History | Year: 2016

A history of the fossil fruits and seeds of the London Clay by James Scott Bowerbank (1797-1877) was printed by George Luxford (1807-1854) and published by John Van Voorst (1804-1898). Part I was issued in 1840, before 6 January, but no more was published. The monograph, intended to comprise five parts, was apparently a commercial failure. Part I was originally issued in wrappers, without title-page or other preliminaries; it includes 17 copper-plate engravings by James de Carle Sowerby (1787-1871), the printer being unknown. A ghost work, the so-called "The fossil fruits and seeds of the Isle of Sheppey", cited occasionally in the contemporary literature, was in fact this monograph of Bowerbank's, not a separate publication. Twelve genera and 106 species are described, all new taxa except for one previously known species. Bowerbank apparently retained the unsold letterpress sheets until he died, after which they were bought by the publishers Reeves & Turner, who reissued them, possibly late in 1877. They added a title-page and, as an introduction, reprinted a letter about the Isle of Sheppey first published by Bowerbank in 1840. The plates were rather poorly reprinted from the original coppers by an unknown printer. The title-page of this scarce reissue does not name Reeves & Turner, but anachronistically gives Van Voorst as the publisher, still dated 1840. The present paper provides the historical and bibliographical background to these two issues of the sole edition, and describes their distinguishing features, determined from 18 copies of the original issue and eight copies of the reissue. © The Society for the History of Natural History.


Torrens H.S.,Lower Mill Cottage | Ford T.D.,University of Leicester
Mercian Geologist | Year: 2011

Elias Hall (1764-1853) was a pioneer Midlands and Lancashire geologist. Two significant influences allowed this man of humble origins to make original contributions to geology. The first was the arrival in Derbyshire in 1807 of John Farey, William Smith's most important pupil, who opened local eyes to the realities of Smith's stratigraphy. The second was the later establishment of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, with which Hall was involved from its beginning in 1831. But attitudes to the low historical importance of practical geology have since meant that Hall's work has been too long forgotten.


Torrens H.S.,Lower Mill Cottage | Ford T.D.,University of Leicester
Mercian Geologist | Year: 2012

The incomplete geological map of the Peak District, compiled in 1808, is recorded and reproduced in part for the first time, together with a discussion of the background to its production and re-discovery. © 2012 East Midlands Geological Society.


Torrens H.S.,Lower Mill Cottage
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society | Year: 2014

Dinosaurs were 'invented' in April 1842. Any history, before this, must separate periods of pre-history. The first covers the period before 1824 (when the first dinosaur genus Megalosaurus was described). Here the Isle of Wight discloses a forgotten pioneer in natural history, the stone mason/sculptor James Hay (c. 1748-1821) who may well have included, by 1818, such dino-to-be material in his remarkable Portsmouth museum. This was described on his death as 'the best private collection in the kingdom'. Sadly, his material is lost, and no accurate diagnosis is possible. The second period extends from 1824 to 1842. The significant figure here is the Russia and East Indies merchant James Vine (1774-1837), who first revealed how Iguanodon bones occurred in abundance in the Island's south-west coastal outcrops. One, between September 1841 and April 1842, revealed to Richard Owen his long-sought fossil sacrum of an Iguanodon. This was in the private London museum of the political radical W. D. Saull (1783-1855). The discovery of this single fossil enabled Owen to 'invent' dinosaurs. He later wrote of this historic specimen how 'the characters of the order Dinosauria were mainly founded on this specimen'. So, in a real sense, the Isle of Wight is the birthplace of Dinosaurs. © 2014 The Linnean Society of London.

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