Egerton, Philip de Malpas Grey- (DNB00)

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EGERTON, Sir PHILIP de MALPAS GREY- (1806–1881), palæontologist, the eldest son of the Rev. Sir Philip Grey-Egerton, ninth baronet, of Oulton Park, Tarporley, Cheshire, was born on 13 Nov. 1806. He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1828. While an undergraduate Egerton was attracted to geology, which he studied under Buckland and Conybeare; and in conjunction with his college friend Viscount Cole (afterwards Earl of Enniskillen) he devoted himself to the collection of fossil fishes. The friends travelled together over Germany, Switzerland, and Italy in pursuit of this object, and accumulated many specimens of unique value. In 1830 Egerton was elected member of parliament for Chester as a tory. He unsuccessfully contested the southern division of the county in 1832, but was successful in 1835, and continuously represented the division until 1868, when he was elected for West Cheshire, which he represented till his death. While sedulously discharging his duties as a member, especially on committees, he never ceased to add to his collection of fossil fishes. Many, of the fishes described in Agassiz's great monographs, and in the 'Decades of the Geological Survey of Great Britain,' belonged to the Egerton collection. Egerton himself contributed the descriptions in the sixth, eighth, and ninth 'Decades.' He was elected fellow of the Geological Society in 1829, and of the Royal Society in 1831, and was awarded the Wollaston medal of the Geological Society in 1873. In 1879 the Chester Society of Natural Science gave Egerton the first Kingsley medal for his services to the society and to the literature and history of the county. He served science assiduously for many years as a member of the councils of the Royal and Geological societies, a trustee of the British Museum and of the Royal College of Surgeons, and as a member of the senate of the university of London. He died in London on 5 April 1881, after a very brief illness. He married in 1832 Anna Elizabeth, the second daughter of Mr. G. J. Legh of High Legh, Cheshire, by whom he left two sons and two daughters. His elder son, Philip le Belward, succeeded to the baronetcy. Lady Egerton died in 1882. Egerton's funeral was, by his own request, extremely simple, and after expressing his wishes he concluded his instructions thus: 'I trust in God's mercy, through Jesus Christ, that the occasion may be one of rejoicing rather than of mourning.'

Egerton was not merely a collector but a careful scientific observer, and a good naturalist. He had also great business ability and good judgment, and was of a genial and kindly disposition, which made him very popular with political opponents. His collection of fossil fishes, as well as that of Lord Enniskillen, has been acquired for the British Museum of Natural History, South Kensington.

Egerton published several catalogues of his collection of fossil fishes. A catalogue published in 1837 was in quarto, and includes references to the published figures and descriptions. In 1871 an octavo catalogue was published entitled 'Alphabetical Catalogue of Type Specimens of Fossil Fishes.' Egerton also edited several memoirs published by the Camden Society (vols. xxxix.and xl.) and the Chetham Society (vol. lxxxiii.), and also published 'Papers relating to Elections of Knights of the Shire for the County Palatine of Chester, from the Death of Oliver Cromwell to the Accession of Queen Anne,' Chester, 1852, and 'A Short Account of the Possessors of Oulton, from the Acquisition of the Property by Marriage with the Done, until the Accession to the Baronetcy on the Death of Thomas, first Earl of Wilton,' London, 1869, 4to, for private distribution.

Over eighty memoirs or short papers, chiefly relating to fossil fishes, were contributed by Egerton to the 'Transactions,' 'Proceedings,' and 'Journal of the Geological Society' and other scientific journals, from 1833 onwards; a list of them will be found in the 'Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers.'

[Chester Chronicle, 9 April 1881; Nature, 21 April 1881: Quarterly Journal of tho Geological Soc., 1882, xxxviii. 46-8; Proc. Royal Society, xxxiii. 1882, xxii-iv.]

G. T. B.