Alder, Joshua (DNB00)

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ALDER, JOSHUA (1792–1867), zoologist, was born on Easter Eve, 1792, at Newcastle-on-Tyne, his parents being provision merchants. He was educated at Tanfield School, under a relative, the Rev. Joseph Simpson, but left it at fifteen to enter business with his mother on his father's death in November 1808. An early acquaintance with Thomas Bewick helped to call out a faculty of drawing; he was fond of sketching on the kitchen walls with a burnt stick, and of holding dramatic performances with puppets constructed by himself. Becoming a member of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle in 1815, and being stimulated in natural history studies by companionship with members of the Hancock family and Mr. W. Robertson, an excellent botanist, he gradually devoted himself almost exclusively to British conchology, to which he afterwards added British zoophytology. During forty years he made summer visits to the places most favourable to his pursuits in the British Islands. His only sister, who survived him unmarried, always accompanied and assisted him. Thus he collected the large museum of British shells and zoophytes, which, with his library, was presented to the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, by Sir William Armstrong. The latter society, founded 1829, as well as the Tyneside Naturalists' Field Club, founded in 1846, owed very much to Alder. In conjunction with Mr. Albany Hancock, he published the great monograph ‘On the British Nudibranchiate Mollusca,’ 1845–55 (Ray Society). His various papers, all zoological, and over fifty in number, are published in the ‘Trans. Nat. Hist. Soc. Northumberland,’ vols. i. and ii.; ‘Trans. Tyneside Nat. Field Club,’ vols. i. iii. iv. v. vi.; ‘Nat. Hist. Trans. Northumberland,’ vol. i.; ‘Magaz. Zool. Bot.’ vol. ii.; ‘Ann. Nat Hist.’ from vol. vi. onwards; ‘Trans. Zool. Soc.’ vol. v.; ‘Journ. Microsc. Soc.’ vol. iv.; ‘Brit. Assoc. Reports,’ 1844. In 1840 Mr. Alder gave up business and devoted himself exclusively to science. The loss of all his property by the failure of a local bank in 1857 was irreparable; but by the aid of a Civil List pension of 70l., supplemented by personal friends, Alder was enabled to continue his work till his death in 1867. His geniality and uprightness were as notable as his power of accurate and minute observation and his trustworthiness as a draughtsman. His soundness of judgment made him an acknowledged authority in the discrimination of species. Many of his papers were written in conjunction with Mr. Albany Hancock, but the larger number bore his own name.

[See Notice of Life, with List of Publications, by Dr. Embleton, in Nat. Hist. Trans. North. &c. vol. i. pp. 324–337.]

G. T. B.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.4
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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241 ii 21f.e. Alder, Joshua: for Easter-Eve read 7 Apr.