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British Industrial History

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William Abbott Herdman

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William Abbott Herdman (1858-1924)


1924 Obituary[1]

"THE LATE SIR W. A. HERDMAN.

I The sudden death, on Monday, of Sir W. A. Herdman, for many years one of the general Secretaries of the British Association, and its President at Cardiff in 1920, will be widely regretted, especially by members Of the Association, for the Toronto meeting of which he was to sail this morning.

William Abbott Herdman was born on September 8, 1858, in Edinburgh, where he received his University training as a biologist. He was too young to take part in the Challenger Expedition of 1872-76, but as assistant to Sir Wyville Thomson he published three volumes of one of the reports on the expedition. In 1891 he went to Liverpool as Professor of Natural History, and in 1919 he became Professor of Oceanography there ; the new chair, which he occupied till 1922, had been endowed by himself. His second wife, Miss Jane Brandeth Holt, who died in 1922, and he himself were liberal donors to Liverpool University; their first donation of 10,000Z., was made in memory of their only son, who was killed in the war. Professor Herd-man was president of Section D, Zoology, of the British Association at Ipswich in 1895. He promoted the work of the dredging committee of the Association, which his teacher, Edward Forbes, had originated in 1839.

He established the Marine Biological Station at Port Erin, Isle of Man, and the Sea-Fish Hatchery at Piel, near Barrow; and he was Honorary Director of Scientific: Work to the Lancashire Sea-Fisheries Committee. In 1901 the Government sent him to Ceylon to investigate the pearl-oyster fisheries. Plankton, the floating minute life of the sea, was later his favourite Study. In 1903 he joined Major MacMahon as general secretary of the British Association, in whose work he took a very active share! In his presidential address at Cardiff on “ Oceanography and Sea Fisheries ” he defined oceanography as one of the two branches of physiography, geography being the other branch, and he advocated a second Challenger expedition. He was president of the Linnean Society in 1904, and held honorary degrees .from Harvard University and from the Australian Universities, which the Association Visited in 1914, and others. His knighthood dates from 1922."


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