Moseley, Henry Nottidge (DNB00)
|←Moseley, Henry (1801-1872)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 39
Moseley, Henry Nottidge
MOSELEY, HENRY NOTTIDGE (1844–1891), naturalist, born in Wandsworth, Surrey, in 1844, was son of Henry Moseley [q. v.] the mathematician. He was educated at Harrow, whence he went in 1864 to Exeter College, Oxford. It was at first intended that he should take a degree in either mathematics or classics, but these subjects proved so uncongenial to him that he was finally allowed to join Professor Rolleston's laboratory. In 1868 he came out with a first class in the natural science schools. Elected to the RadclifFe travelling fellowship in 1869, Moseley, in company with Professor E. Ray Lankester, went to Vienna and studied in Rokitanski's laboratory. On returning to England he entered as a medical student at University College, London. In 1871, again with Professor Lankester, he went to the continent and studied at Leipzig under Professor Ludwig. While there he published his first scientific memoir, 'Ein Verfahren um die Blutgefasse der Coleopteren auszuspritzen' (Berickt k. säcks. Gesell. (1871), xxiii. 276-8). Returning home in the autumn of the same year, Moseley was invited to join the government Eclipse expedition, then fitting out for Ceylon. He did good service as a member of it by making valuable spectroscopic observations in the neighbourhood of Trincomalee; he also formed a miscellaneous collection of natural history objects, including a quantity of land planarians. These last he carefully studied on his return to Oxford, and published the results of his investigation in the first of a series of important biological memoirs which were read before the Royal Society.
In 1872 Moseley was appointed one of the naturalists on the scientific staff of the Challenger, and accompanied that expedition in its voyage round the world, which lasted till May 1876. There being no botanist attached to the expedition, Moseley undertook the collection of plants, and wherever the expedition touched land his zeal as a collector led him always to remain on shore till the last moment, a habit which resulted in his nearly being left behind at Kerguelen's Land.
On his arrival in England in 1876 Moseley was elected to a fellowship at his old college (Exeter), and spent several years at Oxford working out the results of the expedition and preparing his reports, as well as writing important memoirs on the corals and their allies. In the summer of 1877 Moseley was commissioned by an English company to report on certain lands in California and Oregon, and took the opportunity of visiting Washington Territory, Puget Sound, and Vancouver Island, and of studying some of the native races of America. On his return he published a book on 'Oregon' (1878), for which he received a formal vote of thanks from the legislative assembly of that state.
In 1879 Moseley was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and was also appointed assistant registrar to the university of London, which post he held till 1881, when he succeeded his friend and teacher, Professor Rolleston, in the Linacre professorship of human and comparative anatomy at Oxford. At the same time he became, ex officio, a fellow of Merton College.
In addition to his work in the lecture-room and laboratory at Oxford, Moseley served twice on the council of the Royal Society, and was on that of the Zoological Society, of which he had become a fellow in 1879, as well as on the council of the Anthropological Institute, which he joined in 1885. He was, besides, a fellow of the Linnean Society from 1880, and of the Royal Geographical Society from 1881. In 1884 he was president of 'section D' of the British Association at Montreal, and received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the McGill University. He was also a founder and member of council of the Marine Biological Association. Owing to overwork his health gave way in 1887, and his professorial labours were thenceforth performed by deputy. He finally succumbed to an attack of bronchitis on 10 Nov. 1891. In 1881 he married the youngest daughter of John Gwyn Jeffreys [q. v.] the conchologist.
Moseley's principal characteristic was an inborn aversion to accept any statement or recorded observation which he had not been able to verify for himself. He was an effective lecturer. Personally he was very genial, and a staunch friend.
Among his scientific achievements may be named his discovery of a system of tracheal vessels in 'Peripatus' that furnished a new clue to the origin of tracheae, while the memoir on 'Peripatus' itself constituted an important contribution towards a knowledge of the phylogeny of arthropods. His investigations on living corals were the means of clearing up many doubtful points concerning the relationships between the members of that group, and led to the establishment of the group of hydrocorallin. Moseley also was the discoverer of the eyes on the shells of several species of chiton, to the minute structure of which his last publication was devoted. It was in recognition of such services to biological science that the Royal Society in 1887 awarded him their 'royal medal.'
Of all his writings Moseley's 'Notes by a Naturalist on the Challenger,' 8vo, London, 1879, 2nd ed. 1892, is the one that appeals to the widest circle of readers, and approaches Darwin's 'Journal of the Cruise of the Beagle' in interest and importance.
To the official reports of the results of the cruise he contributed a portion of the 'Narrative' and two independent zoological reports : one 'On certain . . . Corals,' and the other ' On the Structure of the peculiar Organs on the Head of Ipnops.'
In addition t the foregoing, Moseley wrote a treatise 'On the Structure of the Stylasteridæ—Croonian Lecture,' 4to, London, 1878, and contributed upwards of thirty papers to the 'Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science,' to the 'Proceedings' and 'Transactions' of the Royal Society, to the 'Transactions of the Linnean Society' and other journals, besides writing the section on zoology for the 'Admiralty Manual of Scientific Enquiry,' 8vo, 1886. Moseley's manuscript 'Journal of Zoological Observations made during the Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger 'is preserved in the library of the zoological department of the British Museum (natural history).
[G. C. Bourne's Memoir, with portrait, in 2nd ed. of Moseley's Notes by a Naturalist, 1892; Times, 13 Nov. 1891; Nature, 26 Nov. 1891; Foster's Alumni Oxon. ; information kindly supplied by the Hon. Gr. C. Brodrick, warden of Merton College, Oxford, and by Professor E. Eay Lankester.]