Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Strickland, Hugh Edwin
STRICKLAND, HUGH EDWIN (1811–1853), naturalist, second son of Henry Eustatius Strickland of Apperley, Gloucestershire, by his wife Mary, daughter of Edmund Cartwright, D.D. [q. v.], inventor of the power-loom, and grandson of Sir George Strickland, bart., of Boynton, was born at Righton in the East Riding of Yorkshire on 2 March 1811. In 1827 he was sent as a pupil to Dr. Thomas Arnold (1795–1842) [q. v.], a family connection, then living at Laleham. He began to collect fossils when about fifteen, and soon afterwards shells, about the same time writing his first paper, a letter to the ‘Mechanics' Magazine’ (vii. 264) describing a combined wind-gauge and weathercock, with two dials of his own invention. On 29 May 1828 he matriculated from Oriel College, Oxford, entering in February 1829, and at once attending Buckland's lectures on geology. During vacation visits to Paris and the Isle of Wight, and at home in the Vale of Evesham, where railways were then being begun, he showed a remarkable power of rapidly seizing the main geological features of a district. He graduated B.A. in 1832, proceeding M.A. in 1835. He furnished geological information to George Bellas Greenough [q. v.] on the map of Worcestershire; and, in conjunction with Edwin Lees, made the first geological map of the county for Sir Charles Hastings's ‘Illustrations of the Natural History of Worcestershire,’ 1834. Hastings introduced him to Sir Roderick Murchison, who asked him to lay down the boundary line between the lias and the new red sandstone on the ordnance map, then in preparation.
In April 1835 Murchison visited Cracombe House, Evesham, where Strickland was living with his parents, bringing with him William John Hamilton [q. v.], who was then arranging his tour through Asia Minor, Strickland at once agreed to go with him, and they left London on 4 July. Together they traversed Greece, Constantinople, and the western coast of Asia Minor, Strickland returning alone through Greece and visiting Italy and Switzerland. During the two following years Strickland was mainly engaged in preparing the results of his journeys for the Geological Society, reading six papers on the geology of the countries visited. In 1837, in company with his father, he visited the north of Scotland, Orkney, Skye, and the Great Glen, meeting Hugh Miller at Cromarty. Murchison then urged Strickland to work out the new red sandstone in the neighbourhood of his home, and the result was a joint paper on that formation in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire, in the ‘Transactions of the Geological Society’ (vol. v.), which is of interest as containing the earliest mention of fossil footprints in English triassic rocks. At the British Association meeting at Glasgow in 1840 Strickland read his first paper on classification, ‘On the true method of discovering the Natural System in Zoology and Botany,’ attacking such ‘binary’ and ‘quinary’ methods as those of Macleay and Swainson (Annals and Magazine of Natural History, vol. vi.) With Lindley and Babington, he was appointed on a committee on the vitality of seeds, to which Daubeny and Henslow were afterwards co-opted, and the fifteen years' work of which was summarised by Daubeny in his presidential address at the Cheltenham meeting in 1856.
Soon afterwards Strickland's attention was directed to the need of reform in zoological nomenclature: a plan with suggested rules was drawn up by him in 1841, and circulated among many naturalists at home and abroad; it was discussed at the Plymouth meeting of the British Association in that year; and in February 1842 a committee was appointed, consisting of Darwin, Henslow, Jenyns (afterwards Blomefield), John Phillips, Dr. (afterwards Sir John) Richardson, W. Ogilby, and J. O. Westwood, with Strickland as reporter. To this committee Yarrell, Owen, W. J. Broderip, W. E. Shuckard, and G. R. Waterhouse were afterwards added. The ‘rules’ drawn up by them, which were chiefly Strickland's work, were approved at the Manchester meeting of the association in 1842, and were first printed in the report for that year. They were reprinted with some modification by Sir William Jardine in 1863, and in the ‘Report’ for 1865; and, having been recognised as authoritative by naturalists generally, were re-edited, at the request of the association, by Dr. P. L. Sclater in 1878. It was at the Manchester meeting in 1842 that Strickland broached the idea of a natural history publishing society, which he at first proposed to call the Montagu Society. Dr. George Johnston of Berwick, however, took the first active steps to realise the scheme, which resulted in the Ray Society. For one of the first volumes issued by the society Strickland translated Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte's ‘Report on the State of Zoology in Europe.’
On his marriage, in 1845, Strickland made a tour through Holland, Bremen, and Hamburg to Copenhagen, Malmo, Lund, and Stralsund, returning by Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, the Saxon Switzerland, Frankfort, and Brussels, visiting most of the museums on the way. His attention was now, under the influence of Sir William Jardine, his father-in-law, mainly directed to ornithology, and on this journey he was much interested in the pictures and remains of the dodo. Taking a house in Beaumont Street, Oxford, he devoted some hours daily to his work on ‘Ornithological Synonyms,’ one volume of which was issued after his death by his widow and her father (London, 1855). He also carried on an extensive ornithological correspondence with Edward Blyth in India, and with Sir William Jardine, and began a ‘Synonymy of Reptiles.’ At the Oxford meeting of the British Association in 1847 he was chairman of Section D, and gave an evening lecture on the dodo. With the assistance in the anatomical part of Dr. A. G. Melville, afterwards professor of zoology at Galway, Strickland in 1848 produced his monograph on ‘The Dodo and its Kindred; or the History and Affinities of the Dodo, Solitaire, and other Extinct Birds,’ London, fol. The preparation of the illustrations for this work and for Sir William Jardine's ‘Contributions to Ornithology’ directed Strickland's notice to De la Motte's process of ‘anastatic’ printing. He and his wife drew birds on paper with lithographic chalk, and De la Motte, who was then living in Oxford, printed from these drawings. Strickland wrote two letters to the ‘Athenæum’ (1848, pp. 172, 276) on this process, which he styled papyrography. He arranged the publication by the Ray Society of Agassiz's ‘Bibliographia Zoologiæ et Geologiæ,’ undertaking to edit it himself, and adding in the process more than a third as much material as was in the original manuscript. He published three volumes in 1848, and had practically completed the fourth at the time of his death. It was issued by Sir William Jardine in 1854.
In 1849 Strickland moved to Apperley Green, near Worcester; but, on its becoming necessary to appoint a successor to Dr. Buckland, he consented to act as deputy reader in geology at Oxford. He acted as president of the Ashmolean Society, was one of the witnesses before the Oxford University commission, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1852. In May 1853 he made a yachting excursion to the Isle of Man and Belfast Lough with his friend T. C. Eyton, the ornithologist, who afterwards published an account of it (Hunt, Yachting Magazine, iii. 233). After the meeting of the British Association at Hull in the same year, he visited Flamborough Head with John Phillips, and parted with him on 13 Sept. to visit a new section on the Sheffield, Manchester, and Lincolnshire railway at Clarborough, between Retford and Gainsborough. While examining the cutting on the following day he was knocked down by an express train and instantaneously killed. A stained-glass window was erected to his memory by his family in Deerhurst church, and another by his friends at Watermoor, near Cirencester. A genus of brachiopoda and a fossil plant both bear the name Stricklandia.
Strickland married, on 23 July 1845, Catherine Dorcas Maule, second daughter of Sir William Jardine, who survived him. His collection of birds—begun in his boyhood, including 130 brought from Asia Minor and Greece, of which three were new to science, twelve hundred purchased in 1838 from his cousin Nathaniel Strickland, and five hundred acquired from his cousin Arthur in 1850, and comprising in all over six thousand skins—was presented by his widow to the university of Cambridge in 1867, and a catalogue of them was published in 1882 by Mr. O. Salvin. Sir William Jardine, in his ‘Memoirs’ of Strickland, published in 1858, enumerates 125 papers or other publications by him, and reprints fifty of his papers as a ‘Selection from his Scientific Writings.’ The volume contains, besides various other illustrations, two lithographic portraits of Strickland by T. H. Maguire—one from a painting by F. W. Wilkins in 1837, the other from a photograph by De la Motte in 1853.[Memoirs by Sir W. Jardine, 1858; Athenæum, 1853, pp. 1094, 1125.]