Lord, William Keast (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 34
Lord, William Keast

by Henry Manners Chichester
John Keast Lord in later editions.

LORD, WILLIAM KEAST (1818–1872), naturalist, said to be the son of Edward Lord, was born in Cornwall in 1818. He was brought to Tavistock, Devonshire, with his brother, William Barry Lord, and educated by an uncle named Luscombe, a man of some local position. Lord was apprenticed to Messrs. Edgecombe & Stannes, chemists, in Tavistock, and afterwards entered the Royal Veterinary College, London, 4 Nov. 1842, and received his diploma 29 May 1844 (Reg.) He established himself as a veterinary surgeon at Tavistock; but his convivial tastes led him astray, and he suddenly disappeared. He is said to have made a whaling voyage and been shipwrecked, and to have been for some years a trapper in Minnesota and the Hudson's Bay fur countries. On 19 June 1855 he was appointed to the British army in the East as a veterinary surgeon with local rank, and attached to the artillery of the Turkish contingent, with which he served in the Crimea. He received the rank of lieutenant 4 Jan. 1856. In August 1856 he was acting as veterinary surgeon with local rank and senior lieutenant of the Osmanli horse artillery (Monthly Army List, August 1856). When British Columbia was formed into a colony after the gold discoveries on the Fraser River in 1858, Lord was appointed naturalist to the commission which was sent out to run a boundary line along the 49th parallel of north latitude, separating the new colony from United States territory. He was detached to San Francisco to buy mules, and to his skill and energy the success of the transport arrangements of the expedition was largely due. He was some time resident at Vancouver's Island. The valuable collections of mammals, birds, fishes, insects, &c., made by him are now in the British Museum (South Kensington). Two new mammals, Fiber osoyooensis and Ligomys minimus, were described by him in the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society,’ 1863. In the same year he delivered lectures in the garb of a trapper on ‘The Canoe, the Rifle, and the Axe,’ at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London, and there he became acquainted with Francis Trevelyan Buckland [q. v.] At Buckland's suggestion he became a contributor to the ‘Field,’ and joined the staff of ‘Land and Water’ on its establishment 1 Jan. 1866.

Subsequently Lord was employed by the viceroy in archæological and scientific researches in Egypt. While there he made many observations on snakes and exposed the tricks of the snake-charmers, who, seeing Lord's dexterity in handling venomous serpents, made him a sheikh of their craft. He brought to London collections of remains from ancient mines and sent them back to Egypt after arranging them. Catalogues of collections of lepidoptera and hymenoptera formed by him in Egypt were published in London in 1871. Lord was appointed the first manager of the Brighton Aquarium, which was opened 10 Aug. 1872; but four months later he died, in his fifty-fifth year, at his residence, 17 Dorset Gardens, Brighton, 9 Dec. 1872. His friend Buckland has described him as a big, unostentatious, large-hearted man, a delightful companion, and a first-rate practical naturalist.

Lord was author of: 1. ‘The Naturalist in Vancouver's Island,’ London, 1866, 2 vols., at the end of which are lists of his collections in north-west America. 2. ‘At Home in the Wilderness,’ by ‘The Wanderer,’ London, 1867, 2nd edit. 1876. 3. ‘Handbook of Sea-Fishing,’ an excellent work. He helped in an enlarged edition of Galton's ‘Art of Travel,’ was a contributor to the ‘Leisure Hour’ and other journals, and under the signature ‘The Wanderer’ contributed many papers on sea fisheries and other topics to ‘Land and Water,’ which for a short time he edited as Buckland's substitute.

[Obituary notice and memoir by Buckland in Land and Water, 14 Dec. 1872; Lord's writings; private information.]

H. M. C.