The English Parson-Naturalist
A Companion Between Science and Religion
Since the time of William Turner (c1508-1568), the figure of the parson-naturalist has been conspicuous in the English Church and in English science. Clergy have made a formidable contribution to natural history in England. Gilbert White (1720-193), 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 beings’.
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 molluscs, sponges, fish, orchids, seaweeds and lichens. These parson-naturalists have played an important role in the foundation of the conservation movement and in the origins of organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protections of Birds and the Natural Trust.
978 085244 516 7
208 pages Illustrated
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