J. Soc. Biblphy nat. Hist. (1977) 8 (2): 148-168 Anna Blackburne (1726-1793)1 patroness of natural history By V. P. WYSTRACH 20 Westfield neglected Road, Wilton, Conn. 06897 U.S.A. INTRODUCTION "Sometime in the later eighteenth century, a specimen [of the Blackburnian warbler] sent from New York to England, and there described and named for a Mrs. Blackburn who collected stuffed birds and a patron to ornithology."2 From this rather vague quotation about the naming of the handsome Blackburnian warbler (Dendroica fusca)3 of eastern North America, one might visualize a wealthy Georgian widow admiring her collection of exotic bird specimens obtained from subsidized collectors. But more serious reflection raises several intriguing questions. Who 'Mrs. Blackburn'? Why did she rate having a new bird named in her honor? Who the nominator and what his motivation? Not the least question is, who procured this new bird from New York in the first place? A little delving easily identified 'Mrs. Blackburn' with Anna Blackburne, an amateur botanist of Orford Hall in Lancashire.4 Further investigation revealed a remarkable gentlewoman who occupied a prominent niche in natural science at a time when it essentially dominated by men. This article presents a biographical sketch of the
Archives of Natural History – Edinburgh University Press
Published: May 1, 1977
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