Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Tate, George (1805-1871)

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TATE, GEORGE (1805–1871), topographer and naturalist, born in 1805, was son of Ralph Tate, builder, and the brother of Thomas Tate [q. v.], mathematician. His life was passed in his native town, Alnwick, of which he was a freeman by right of birth. There, in his earlier years, he carried on the business of a linendraper. In 1848 he was appointed postmaster, and held the office till within a fortnight of his death. He was active in all public movements in the town. He helped to organise the work of the Alnwick Mechanics' Scientific Institution, of which he acted as secretary for thirty years, and he was also secretary of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club from 1858 until his death.

Tate chiefly interested himself in the archæology and natural history of his town and district, and especially distinguished himself by his geological explorations. His ‘History of Alnwick,’ which appeared in parts between 1865 and 1869, was his chief publication. It included the history of Alnwick Castle and the Percy family, with accounts of old customs, sports, public movements, local nomenclature, the botany, zoology, and geology of the district, and biographies of the notabilities of the town. On the completion of its publication a banquet was given in Tate's honour in the town-hall, 21 May 1869, and he was presented with a valuable testimonial. He also published in 1865 ‘Sculptured Rocks of Northumberland and Eastern Borders.’ He examined other ancient British remains, and wrote papers on them for the proceedings of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club. Of these the most important were ‘The old Celtic Town of Greaves Ash’ and ‘The Hut-circles and Forts on Yevering Bell.’ Besides monographs on the Farne Islands, Dunstanborough Castle, Long Houghton church, and Harbottle Castle, he prepared accounts of the Cheviot Hills, St. Cuthbert's beads, porpoises, the bulk and colour of the hair and eyes of the Northumbrians, the orange-legged hobby, and the common squirrel.

His account of his journey along the Roman wall, with his examination of its geology, was published as a part of John Collingwood Bruce's work entitled ‘The Roman Wall’ (2nd edit. 1853). His account of the fossil flora of the eastern border was incorporated in George Johnston's work, ‘The Natural History of the Eastern Borders,’ 1854; and that of the geology of Northumberland in Baker and Tate's ‘New Flora of Northumberland and Durham.’ He was the first to record marks of ice action on rocks in Northumberland.

Tate formed a museum which was especially rich in fossils collected in the course of his investigations in the carboniferous and mountain limestone formations, and his name has been given to three species by Professor T. Rupert Jones—Estheria striata var. Tateana, Candona Tateana, and Beyrichia Tatei.

He died on 7 June 1871, and was buried on the 9th in Alnwick churchyard, on the south side of the church. He married, in 1832, Ann Horsley, also of Alnwick, who died on 21 Dec. 1847. Two sons and three daughters survived him.

[Memoir in the Proceedings of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, by Mr. Robert Middlemas, to which is appended a list of his contributions to the Alnwick Mercury and other newspapers.]

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