Henry Witham

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Makers of British botany, Plate 20 (Henry Witham of Lartington).png

Henry Thomas Maire Silvertop Witham (1779–1844) was the first English person to investigate the internal structure of fossil plants, and was a founder member of the Royal Geological Society.[1]

Born Henry Silvertop, he married Eliza, daughter of Thomas Witham, esq. of Headlam, in the county of Durham, and niece and heiress of William Witham, esq. of Cliffe, in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, and thus inherited the Witham name and Coat of arms.[2] Though having no botanical training, he applied to plants James Nicol's method of examining rocks by slicing thin sections of them. His findings were published in his 1833 book The Internal Structure of Fossil Vegetables found in the Carboniferous and Oolitic deposits of Great Britain, illustrated by William MacGillivray.[3]

He worked strenuously for the Mechanics Institute, which provided education for the working classes and the Relief of the Sick Poor.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b http://www.teesdalediscovery.com/blue_plaque_trail.htm
  2. ^ John Burke (1836). A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain and Ireland. 
  3. ^ Scott, Dukinfield H. (1913). "William Crawford Williamson". In Oliver, Francis Wall (ed.). Makers of British Botany. Cambridge University Press. 
  4. ^ "Author Query for 'Witham'". International Plant Names Index.