Newman, Edward (DNB00)

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NEWMAN, EDWARD (1801–1876), naturalist, was born of quaker parents at Hampstead, Middlesex, on 13 May 1801, the eldest of four sons, and his inherited love for natural history was fostered in youth. From 1812 to 1817 he attended a school at Painswick in Gloucestershire, and from 1817 to 1826 engaged in business as woolstapler with his father at Godalming in Surrey. From 1826 to 1837 he owned a ropewalk at Deptford. In 1840 he entered into partnership as a printer with George Luxford [q. v.] in Ratcliff Highway, but Luxford soon retired, and Newman removed the office to Devonshire Street, Bishopsgate.

Through life Newman devoted his leisure to scientific study, and became intimate with some of the leading London naturalists. In 1826 he was one of the four founders of the Entomological Club, and became editor of the journal which was started in 1832, contributing fifteen out of the sixty-three articles in the first volume, besides notices of books. His earliest memoir had been issued in 1831, and in the following year he began an anonymous series of notes in ‘The Magazine of Natural History,’ which were reprinted in 1849 as ‘The Letters of Rusticus,’ being chiefly on the bird and insect life of Surrey. In 1832 he published his first pamphlet, ‘Sphinx vespiformis, an Essay,’ an attempt at a new system of classification, which was much criticised. He joined the Linnean Society in 1833, and in the same year took a large share in starting the Entomological Society, which grew out of the Entomological Club. Next came his ‘Grammar of Entomology,’ the second edition of which, in 1841, bore the modified title of ‘A familiar Introduction to the History of Insects.’ In 1840 he published the results of a tour in Ireland as ‘Notes on Irish Natural History,’ and also his ‘History of British Ferns,’ an original and accurate work, printed by Luxford, the cuts drawn by the author (new edit. 1844, trebled in size, a third in 1854, and a fourth or school edition subsequently published with no date). In the same year (1840) he began ‘The Entomologist,’ which from 1843 till 1863 was merged in a new venture, ‘The Zoologist,’ thirty-four volumes of which were brought out by Newman. From June 1841 to June 1854 he contributed largely to another venture of his own, ‘The Phytologist,’ a monthly magazine, edited by Luxford. In 1842 the Entomological Club established a museum, Newman giving his entire collection, and being elected curator. ‘Insect Hunters, and other Poems,’ appeared anonymously in 1857, but with the author's name in 1861. From 1858 till his death Newman was the natural history editor of the ‘Field.’ In this journal he published his valuable series of notes on economic entomology, then an unknown subject, but now recognised as an important factor in the welfare of nations. In the United States it has became a state department. ‘Birdsnesting,’ a work on British oology, in 1861, and a popular issue without cuts of his ‘Ferns’ in 1864, were followed by an edition of Montagu's ‘Dictionary of British Birds’ in 1866, the ‘Illustrated History of British Moths’ in 1869, and a companion work on the ‘Butterflies’ in 1870–1. He died at Peckham, 12 June 1876, and was buried at Nunhead cemetery.

Newman fully deserved his reputation of an enthusiastic and laborious naturalist. He was one of the last of that school of all-round naturalists which the highly specialised state of biology at the present day has rendered impossible.

[Memoirs by T. P. Newman, London, 1876, 8vo; Zoologist, 1876, Preface; Journal of Botany, 1876, pp. 223–4; Smith's Friends' Books, ii. 236–7.]

B. D. J.