Dillwyn, Lewis Weston (DNB00)

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DILLWYN, LEWIS WESTON (1778–1855), naturalist, son of William Dillwyn of Higham Lodge, Walthamstow, descended from an old Breconshire family, was born at Ipswich in 1778. He received his early education at a Friends' school at Tottenham, his father being a member of that body. At this school he became acquainted with his lifelong friend, Mr. Joseph Woods, with whom he was sent to Folkestone on account of his then weak health. In 1798 he went to Dover and there began his study of plants, the first-fruits of which were a list of plants observed by him, read before the Linnean Society in March 1801. At this time he was living at Walthamstow, but in 1802 his father purchased the Cambrian pottery at Swansea, placing his son at the head, although it was 1803 before he settled in that town. His principal botanical work was begun to be published in 1802, the ‘Natural History of British Confervæ,’ while in 1805, the joint production of himself and Mr. Dawson Turner of Yarmouth, the ‘Botanist's Guide through England and Wales’ was published in two small octavo volumes. His favourite pursuits were turned to good account in business, and the porcelain of his manufacture soon became celebrated for the true and spirited paintings on it of butterflies, flowers, birds, and shells, besides the beauty of the material itself. It attained its greatest renown about 1814, after which its production was abandoned for the ordinary earthenware, the staple product of the works.

In 1809 he completed his ‘British Confervæ,’ and soon afterwards he married the daughter of John Llewellyn of Penllergare in Glamorganshire. Eight years later, in 1817, he brought out ‘A Descriptive Catalogue of British Shells,’ in 2 vols. 8vo, followed in 1823 by ‘An Index to the Historia Conchyliorum of Lister,’ folio, printed at the Oxford Clarendon Press at the cost of the university, which on this occasion offered him the honorary degree of D.C.L., which honour he declined.

In 1832 he was returned to the first reformed parliament as member for Glamorganshire, of which he had been a magistrate for some years, and high sheriff in 1818. The freedom of the borough of Swansea was presented to him in 1834, and from 1835 to 1840 he served as alderman and mayor. He gave up parliamentary duties in 1837. In the previous year his ‘Contribution towards a History of Swansea’ produced 150l. for the benefit of the Swansea infirmary, the profit of three hundred copies which he gave for that purpose. He cordially welcomed the British Association to Swansea in 1848, was one of the vice-presidents of that meeting, and produced for the occasion his ‘Flora and Fauna of Swansea.’ This was his last literary production; his health gradually declined, and for some years before his death he withdrew from outside pursuits. He died at Sketty Hall on 31 Aug. 1855, leaving two sons and two daughters. He was thoroughly upright in all his dealings, and a liberal and active country gentleman. He apparently ceased to be a Friend in marrying out of the society. Besides several minor papers, the following may be specially mentioned: 1. ‘British Confervæ,’ London, 1802–1809, 4to, (part) translated into German by Weber and Mohr, Goett. 1803–5, 8vo. 2. ‘Coleopterous Insects found in the neighbourhood of Swansea.’ 3. ‘Catalogue of more Rare Plants in the environs of Dover.’ 4. ‘Review of the references to the Hortus Malabaricus of Rheede to Drakensheim,’ Swansea, 1839, 8vo. 4. ‘Hortus Collinsonianus,’ Swansea, 1843, 8vo (an account of Peter Collinson's garden at Mill Hill in the eighteenth century, from the unpublished manuscript).

[Proc. Linn. Soc. 1856, p. 36; Jackson's Lit. of Botany, p. 540; Cat. Scientific Papers, ii. 205; Smith's Friends' Books, i. 582–3.]

B. D. J.