The English Parson-naturalist: A Companionship Between Science and Religion

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Gracewing Publishing, 2000 - Clergy - 198 pages
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Since the time of William Turner (c 1508-1568) the figure of the parson-naturalist has been conspicuous int he English Church and in English science. Clergy have made a formidable contribution to natural history in England. Gilbert White (1720-1793), the author of The Natural History of Selborne, is perhaps the best known of this distinguished company, but other notables include John Ray (1627-1705) with whom, it has been said, "the adventure of modern science begins." The brightness of the reputation of these individuals should not blind us to that great host of other luminaries who have made English natural history what it is today. There have been botanists and ornithologists, geologists and entomologists; clerical naturalists have included specialists on mollusks, sponges, fish, orchids, seaweeds and lichens. These parson-naturalists made a significant contribution to the development of British scientific natural history, and played an important role in the foundation of the conservation movement and in the origins of organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the National Trust. This book presents a full range of interesting and sometimes eccentric individuals from the early days of the Christian faith in the British Isles to modern times. Missionary endeavor and service to the Empire brought the influence of the English parson-naturalist to the very ends of the earth. A key to the appreciation of the success of the parson-naturalist phenomenon is understanding the social milieu in which these men worked. Until the twentieth century clergy were members of a relatively tightly-knit social group, often related to one another by kinship or marriage; a man's clerical colleagues were also his scientific colleagues and his kinsfolk. these links constituted a powerful network. Moreover, this parochial system allowed a parson to get to know the plants, animals and people of one smal area of the countryside, often for the whole of his working life. This book explores the nature of this network, and the way in which science and society became associated in the development of the unique parson-naturalist phenomenon.--Back cover.

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the antecedents of the English parsonnaturalist
vertebrates other than birds
Natural history societies museums and the conservation
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