Edgar Leopold Layard
|Edgar Leopold Layard
CMG, FZS, MBOU
23 July 1824|
|Died||1 January 1900
Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England
|Notable work(s)||The Birds of South Africa|
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Anne Calthrop,
Jane Catherine Blackett
|Parents||Henry Peter John Layard|
|Relatives||Sir Austen Henry Layard (brother)|
Born in Florence, Italy, to a family of Huguenot descent, Layard was the sixth son of Henry Peter John Layard of the Ceylon Civil Service (the son of Charles Peter Layard, dean of Bristol, and grandson of Daniel Peter Layard, the physician) with his wife Marianne, a daughter of Nathaniel Austen, banker, of Ramsgate. Through her, he was partly of Spanish descent. His uncle was Benjamin Austen, a London solicitor and close friend of Benjamin Disraeli in the 1820s and 1830s. He was the brother of the archaeologist and politician Sir Austen Henry Layard.
Layard spent ten years in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where he studied the local fauna with Robert Templeton (1802–1892). In 1854, he went to the Cape Colony as a civil servant working in the service of the governor George Edward Grey (1812–1898). In 1855, during his spare time, Layard was a curator in the South African Museum, and was succeeded by Roland Trimen. After this, he had posts in Brazil, where he collected birds for Arthur Hay (1824–1878).
Edgar Layard administered the government of Fiji from 1874 to 1875 and was honorary British Consul at Noumea, New Caledonia from 1876. Edgar Layard and his son, Edgar Leopold Calthrop Layard (referred to in the literature as either E.L.C. Layard or Leopold Layard to differentiate him from his father), were active collectors in this region, mainly of bird specimens. Between 1870 and 1881, they visited Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, New Britain and Norfolk Island. Aside from the South African material, the bird collections they made from their 'home base' of New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands are the most scientifically important. The Layards sent material to William Sharp MacLeay in Sydney, but also to many other ornithologists. Their specimens have become very scattered. Many went to the British Museum in London. Others went to Henry Baker Tristram, and are now in the National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside in Liverpool, England.
Layard's first wife, Barbara Anne Calthrop (died 1886), whom he married in 1845, is commemorated in the specific epithet of Layard's Parakeet (Psittacula calthropae) and he named the Brown-breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui) after his Tamil cook, Muttu.
Engraved oyster shells once belonging to Layard were exhibited on the Antiques Roadshow on 29 May 2011.
- Bo Beolens and Michael Watkins (2003). Whose Bird? Common Bird Names and the People They Commemorate. Yale University Press (New Haven and London).
- Maurice Boubier (1925) Evolution of ornithology. Bookshop Felix Alcan (Paris), New scientific collection: II + 308 p.
- Barbara Mearns & Richard Mearns (1998). The Bird Collectors. Academic Press (London): xvii + 472 p.
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