Gerald Edwin Hamilton Barrett-Hamilton

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Major Gerald Edwin Hamilton Barrett-Hamilton (1871[1] – 1914) was a notable British/Irish natural historian, co-author with M. A. C. Hinton of A History of British Mammals,[2] which remained "the most thorough, accurate and scientific publication" on British mammals until the 1950s.[3]

He was born in India of Irish parents, who returned and settled at Kilmanock in County Wexford when the boy was three years old. He was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge,[4] spending summer holidays botanizing at home under the encouragement of A. G. More. He took a commission in the 5th Irish Rifles, in which he served in the Anglo-Boer War between 1901-1902.[5] He later worked in the Natural History Museum, London, and worked on various Government investigations. He married Maud Charlotte Eland, of Ravenshill, Transvaal. They had six children.[5]

In his work as a natural historian, he described a great number of new species of small mammal on the islands around the British Isles, notably the house mice and field mice of St. Kilda which he called Mus muralis and Mus hirtensis,[6] believing that these had evolved in situ having colonised the islands naturally via land or ice-bridges. Although this has been demonstrated to be wrong,[7] and many of his described species are now regarded as island forms rather than species in their own right, his contribution to natural history was enormous. He was a valued contributor to the Irish Naturalist journal.[1] His papers and correspondence are held at the University of Manitoba.[8]

He died on 17 January 1914 of pneumonia following a heart attack on South Georgia Island in the South Antarctic whilst leading a British Government investigation into the whale and seal fisheries there.[9]

Works[edit]

  • 'On a collection of mice (Mus hirtensis and M. muralis) from St Kilda', Annals of Scottish Natural History, 57 (1906), 1-4.
  • A History of British Mammals, part completed to vol 21, 1910-1921

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Moffat, C.B. (April 1914). "Major G.E.H. Barrett-Hamilton". The Irish Naturalist 23: 81–93. 
    "Obituary: Gerald Edwin Hamilton Barrett-Hamilton". Ibis 56 (2): 319–325. 2008. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1914.tb06639.x. 
  2. ^ A History of British Mammals, 1910
  3. ^ Berry, R. J. (1989). "British mammals: from trinomials to evolutionary ecology". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 38: 113–118. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.1989.tb01568.x. 
  4. ^ "Barrett-Hamilton, Gerald Edwin Hamilton (BRT891GE)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^ a b "Obituary: Major G. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton". The Geographical Journal 43 (4): 450. 1914. JSTOR 1778396. 
  6. ^ Barrett-Hamilton, G.E.H. (1906). "'On a collection of mice (Mus hirtensis and M. muralis) from St Kilda'". Annals of Scottish Natural History 57: 1–4. 
  7. ^ Corbet, G. B. (1961). "Origin of the British insular races of small mammals and the 'Lusitanian' fauna". Nature 191 (4793): 1037–1040. doi:10.1038/1911037a0. 
  8. ^ G.E.H. Barrett-Hamilton fonds
  9. ^ "Publications received". The Auk 31 (3): 435. 1914. JSTOR 4072001. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Obituary: Major G. E. H. Barrett-Hamilton". The Geographical Journal 43 (4): 450. 1914. JSTOR 1778396. 
  • Berry, R. J. (1989). "British mammals: from trinomials to evolutionary ecology". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 38: 113–118. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.1989.tb01568.x. 
  • Corbet, G. B. (1961). "Origin of the British insular races of small mammals and the 'Lusitanian' fauna". Nature 191 (4793): 1037–1040. doi:10.1038/1911037a0. 
  • "Publications received". The Auk 31 (3): 435. 1914. JSTOR 4072001. 

External links[edit]