Seebohm, Henry (DNB00)

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SEEBOHM, HENRY (1832–1895), ornithologist, born on 12 July 1832, was eldest son of Benjamin Seebohm of Horton Grange, Bradford, Yorkshire (who came to England from Germany in 1815), by his wife Esther Wheeler, of Hitchin, Hertfordshire. His parents belonged to the Society of Friends, and he was educated at the Friends' school, York, where he developed a taste for natural history. At an early age he engaged in business, and ultimately settled at Sheffield as a manufacturer of steel. His spare time was devoted to ornithology, and from time to time he made journeys into Holland, Greece, Asia Minor, Scandinavia, Germany, and Siberia to collect and study birds in their native haunts.

One of his most successful expeditions was to the valley of the Lower Petchora in 1875, with Mr. Harvie-Brown, when the eggs of the grey plover and of many rare species of birds were obtained. The account of this voyage, as well as of a trip to Heligoland, whither he went to study the migration of the birds at the house of the celebrated ornithologist, Herr Gätke, was given in his ‘Siberia in Europe,’ 8vo, London, 1880. In 1877, accompanied by Captain Wiggins, he visited the valley of the Yenesei, where further ornithological discoveries of great importance were made, and recorded in his ‘Siberia in Asia,’ 8vo, London, 1882. Later he visited Southern Europe and South Africa to study European birds in their winter quarters, and to collect materials for his work on ‘The Geographical Distribution of the Family Charadriidæ,’ 4to, London, 1887.

Seebohm joined the British Ornithologists' Union and the Zoological Society in 1873; he was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1878, and was one of the secretaries from June 1890 till his death. He was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society in December 1879.

In later years he resided at South Kensington and Maidenhead. He died on 26 Nov. 1895.

Besides the works already named, Seebohm was the author of:

  1. ‘Catalogue of Birds in the British Museum, vol. v., Turdidæ,’ 8vo, London, 1881.
  2. ‘A History of British Birds and their Eggs,’ 8vo, London, 1883–5.
  3. ‘Classification of Birds,’ 8vo, London, 1890; supplement 1895.
  4. ‘The Birds of the Japanese Empire,’ 8vo, London, 1890.
  5. ‘Geographical Distribution of British Birds,’ 8vo, London, 1893.
  6. ‘Address to the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union,’ 8vo, London, 1893.

He also contributed upwards of eighty papers, chiefly on ornithological subjects, between 1877 and 1895, to the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society,’ ‘The Ibis,’ and other scientific publications. He left unfinished a work on ‘The Eggs of British Birds’ and on ‘Thrushes.’ He was a liberal contributor to the national collection during his lifetime, and at his death left his whole ornithological collection to the British Museum (Natural History).

[Times, 28 Nov. 1895; Nature, 5 Dec. 1895, p. 105; Athenæum, 7 Dec. 1895, p. 794; Ibis, 1896, pp. 159–62; information kindly supplied by his brother, Mr. F. Seebohm; Brit. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) Cat.; Royal Soc. Cat.; Zool. Record.]

B. B. W.