Henry Alleyne Nicholson

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Henry Alleyne Nicholson
Born (1844-09-11)11 September 1844
Penrith, Cumbria
Died 19 January 1899(1899-01-19) (aged 54)
Nationality British
Institutions University of Toronto
Durham College of Science
Alma mater Appleby Grammar School
University of Göttingen
University of Edinburgh
Notable awards Lyell Medal (1888)

Henry Alleyne Nicholson (11 September 1844 – 19 January 1899) was a British palaeontologist and zoologist.[1]


The son of Dr. John Nicholson, a biblical scholar, he was born at Penrith, Cumbria on 11 September 1844. He was educated at Appleby Grammar School and at the universities of Göttingen (Ph.D., 1866) and Edinburgh (D.Sc., 1867; M.D., 1869). Geology had early attracted his attention, and his first publication was a thesis for his D.Sc. degree titled On the Geology of Cumberland and Westmoreland (1868).

In 1871 he was appointed professor of natural history in the University of Toronto; in 1874 professor of biology in the Durham College of Science and in 1875 professor of natural history in the University of St. Andrews. This last post he held until 1882, when he became Regius Professor of natural history in the University of Aberdeen.

He was elected F.R.S. in 1897. His original work was mainly on fossil invertebrata (graptolites, stromatoporoids and corals); but he did much field work, especially in the Lake District, where he labored in company with Professor Robert Harkness and afterwards with Dr. John Edward Marr. He was awarded the Lyell Medal by the Geological Society in 1888.

In 1898 he promoted Alfred William Gibb as the first Professor of Geology at Aberdeen University.[2] In 1911 he was living at 1 Belvidere Street in Aberdeen.[3]

He died at Aberdeen on 19 January 1899.

During his career he published 167 papers, usually as the sole author, and 12 textbooks. A revised version of Professor Nicholson's work The Ancient Life History of the Earth was re-published by eminent paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould in 1980.



  • Ancient Life-History of the Earth (1877).
  • Manual of Zoology (of which there were 7 editions) and other text-books of Zoology.
  • Manual of Palaeontology (1872, 3rd ed, 2 vols., with Richard Lydekker, 1889).
  • Monograph of the Silurian Fossils of the Girvan District in Ayrshire (with R. Etheridge, jun.) (1878–1880).
  • Monograph of the British Stromatoporoids in Palaeontograph. Soc. (1886–1892).


  1. ^  "Nicholson, Henry Alleyne". Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1901. 
  2. ^ http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=8372061
  3. ^ Aberdeen Post Office Directory 1911-12

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