Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Newport, George

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NEWPORT, GEORGE (1803–1854), naturalist, son of a wheelwright at Canterbury, was born there on 4 July 1803. He was apprenticed to his father's trade; but after studying in a museum of natural history established by Mr. Masters, a nurseryman, and after making investigations for himself on insect life, he obtained the post of curator of Masters's museum. He commenced the study of the anatomy of articulated animals, and, selecting medicine for his profession, became an apprentice to Mr. Weekes of Sandwich, and entered London University on 16 Jan. 1832. On becoming a member of the College of Surgeons in 1835, he was in April of that year appointed house surgeon to the Chichester Infirmary, and remained connected with that establishment till January 1837. He paid frequent visits to places in his native county, especially to Richborough near Sandwich, and made observations on the commonest species of insects. His researches on the humble-bee, the white-cabbage butterfly, the tortoiseshell butterfly, and the buff-tip moth afforded him materials for papers deemed of sufficient importance for publication in the ‘Philosophical Transactions.’ The great triumph of his anatomical researches was his discovery that, in the generative system of the higher animals, the impregnation of the ovum by the spermatozoa is not merely the result of contact, but of penetration; and for his paper, printed in the ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ 1851, pp. 169–242, entitled ‘On the Impregnation of the Ovum in the Amphibia,’ he received the Society's royal medal. He also contributed valuable papers on insect structure to the ‘Transactions of the Linnean Society,’ of which he became a fellow in 1847; and to the Entomological Society, of which he was president 1844–5. He was elected an honorary fellow of the College of Physicians in 1843, and a fellow of the Royal Society on 26 March 1846.

On leaving Chichester he settled in London as a surgeon, but he was too much engrossed in microscopical investigations to obtain a great practice. He possessed good friends in Dr. Marshall Hall, Sir John Forbes, and Sir James Clarke, and the last-named on 1 July 1847 procured him a pension from the civil list of 100l. a year. He exercised great facility in making dissections, and acquired a dexterity in drawing both with the right hand and the left, which was invaluable in his demonstrations of insect anatomy and physiology. A medal offered by the Agricultural Society of Saffron Walden for the best essay on the turnip-fly was readily gained by Newport, and his researches on the embryology and reproduction of batrachian reptiles were very successful. He died at 55 Cambridge Street, Hyde Park, London, 7 April 1854.

He was the author of: 1. ‘Observations on the Anatomy, Habits, and Economy of Athalia Centifoliæ, the Saw-fly of the Turnip, and on the means adopted for the Prevention of its Ravages,’ 1838. 2. ‘List of Specimens of Myriapoda in the British Museum,’ 1844. 3. Address delivered at the anniversary meeting of the Entomological Society, 1844, and address delivered at the adjourned anniversary meeting, 1845. 4. ‘Catalogue of the Myriapoda in the British Museum,’ 1856.

[Proc. of Linnean Soc. 1855, ii. 309–12; Proc. of Royal Soc. 1855, vii. 278–85; Literary Gazette, 15 April 1854, p. 350; Gent. Mag. June 1854, p. 660.]

G. C. B.