Woodward, Samuel Pickworth (DNB00)

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WOODWARD, SAMUEL PICKWORTH (1821–1865), naturalist, born at Norwich on 17 Sept. 1821, was second son of Samuel Woodward [q. v.] Bernard Bolingbroke Woodward [q. v.] was his elder brother. He was educated at Priory school, Greyfriars, under William Brooke, and was encouraged by his father to devote all spare time to the study of natural history, and more especially of the plants, insects, and land and fresh-water mollusca of the country around Norwich. Leaving school at the age of fifteen, he was engaged by Dawson Turner [q. v.] to work at his extensive collection of dried plants at Yarmouth, and this greatly stimulated his botanical studies. In course of time he formed a valuable herbarium, which, after his death, was purchased for the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester; and in 1841 he contributed to the ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural History’ an important list of plants found in central Norfolk. After the death of his father in 1838 he obtained an appointment in the library of the British Museum, and a year later (1839) he became sub-curator to the Geological Society of London at Somerset House. Here he worked under William Lonsdale, and afterwards under Edward Forbes, to both of whom he owed much help and encouragement in scientific work. He became an active member of the Botanical Society of London, and in 1841 was chosen an associate of the Linnean Society. In 1845 he was appointed professor of geology and natural history in the newly established Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester. In the following year, in conjunction with Sir Thomas Tancred and others, he assisted in founding the Cotteswold Naturalists' Field Club. In 1848 he was appointed first-class assistant in the department of geology and mineralogy in the British Museum, a position which he occupied until the close of his life. His official duties led him to concentrate attention on invertebrate fossils, and more especially on the fossil mollusca, to the study of which he happily added that of the living forms; so that in a few years he came to be regarded as the highest authority on the subject of recent and fossil shells. His researches on the Hippuritidæ, an extinct family of mollusca, are worthy of note, while his ‘Manual of the Mollusca; or, Rudimentary Treatise of Recent and Fossil Shells,’ to the preparation of which he devoted all his leisure hours for six years, was at once adopted as the standard work on the subject. It appeared in three parts in 1851, 1853, and 1856 (London, 8vo), passed through several editions, and was translated into French in 1870. The illustrations, filling twenty-four plates, were engraved by J. W. Lowry from original drawings by the author, and they remain among the choicest specimens of steel engravings. Considerable attention was given by Woodward to the fossil Echinodermata. He named and described the new genus Echinothuria, from an anomalous fossil form. Long afterwards Sir Charles Wyville Thomson [q. v.] founded a new family, Echinothuridæ, to contain the original fossil genus and also two recent genera brought to light by deep-sea dredgings. Woodward described some of the fossil species of echinoderms in the ‘Decades’ of the geological survey. He was elected a fellow of the Geological Society in 1854, and in 1864 the university of Göttingen conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy. He contributed many original papers to the ‘Annals and Magazine of Natural History,’ the ‘Proceedings of the Zoological Society,’ the ‘Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society,’ the ‘Geologist,’ and the ‘Geological Magazine.’ He also wrote for the ‘Critic’ and other periodicals. He was for several years examiner in natural science to the council of military education at Sandhurst, and afterwards examiner in geology and palæontology to the university of London. He died at Herne Bay, whither he had gone to recruit his health, on 11 July 1865.

[Memoir in Trans. Norfolk Naturalists' Society, 1882, iii. 279–312, with portrait and list of papers.]

H. B. W.