1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pennant, Thomas
|←Penn, William (English Quaker)||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 21
|See also Thomas Pennant on Wikipedia, and our 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.|
PENNANT, THOMAS (1726-1798), British naturalist and antiquary, was descended from an old Welsh family, for many generations resident at Downing, Flintshire, where he was born on the 14th of June 1726. He received his early education at Wrexham, and afterwards entered Queen's College, Oxford, but did not take a degree. At twelve years of age he was inspired with a passion for natural history through being presented with Francis Willughby's Ornithology; and a tour in Cornwall in 1746-1747 awakened his strong interest in minerals and fossils. In 1750 his account of an earthquake at Downing was inserted in the Philosophical Transactions, where there also appeared in 1756 a paper on several coralloid bodies he had collected at Coalbrookdale, Shropshire. In the following year, at the instance of Linnaeus, he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Upsala. In 1766 he published the first part of his British Zoology, a work meritorious rather as a laborious compilation than as an original contribution to science. During its progress he visited the continent of Europe and made the acquaintance of Buffon, Voltaire, Haller and Pallas. In 1767 he was elected F.R.S. In 1771 was published his Synopsis of Quadrupeds, afterwards extended into a History of Quadrupeds. At the end of the same year he published A Tour in Scotland in 1769, which proving remarkably popular was followed in 1774 by an account of another journey in Scotland, in two volumes. These works have proved invaluable as preserving the record of important antiquarian relics which have now perished. In 1778 he brought out a similar Tour in Wales, which was followed by a Journey to Snowdon (pt. i. 1781; pt. ii. 1783), afterwards forming the second volume of the Tour. In 1782 he published a Journey from Chester to London. He brought out Arctic Zoology in 1785-1787. In 1790 appeared his Account of London, which went through a large number of editions, and three years later he published the Literary Life of the late T. Pennant, written by himself. In his later years he was engaged on a work entitled Outlines of the Globe, vols. i. and ii. of which appeared in 1798, and vols. iii. and iv., edited by his son David Pennant, in 1800. He was also the author of a number of minor works, some of which were published posthumously. He died at Downing on the 16th of December 1798.