Swinnertons in Science

This includes a number of Swinnertons who have made contributions in the field of science.

Aylmer Aberfraw Swinnerton

Chemical engineer. Published works include:

  • Canada. Mines Branch 1901-1936 : Analyses of Canadian Crude Oils, Napthas, Shale Oil & Bitumen (1936) [Joint author]

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Aylmer was born in Bolarum, Hyderabad, India, in 1893, the son of Robert William Swinnerton and Thurza Craig. He was educated at Dean Close School, Cheltenham and the University of Toronto. He was the grandson of William Swinnerton, born in Lambeth in about 1819 who had a long career as a soldier in India where he rose from Private to a Lt Colonel in the Commissariat.

Aylmer was a chemical engineer for the Federal Department of Mines, Canada from 1919 to 1958.

He died in Ontario in 1983.

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Charles Francis Massy Swynnerton

English naturalist.
Effectively the first game warden of Northern Rhodesia.
See Wikipedia article.

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Massy Swynnerton was born on 3rd December 1877 at Folkestone in Kent, the only son of the Rev.Charles Swynnerton (1843-1928) and Maud, daughter of Major Henry William Massy of Grantstown, Tipperary. Massy was educated at Lancing College, Sussex, and in 1897 went to Southern Rhodesia, via Natal, where he ran a farm near the Mozambique border at Mount Selinda in the Chipingo district. There he exhibited two main interests, the introduction and trials with a range of economic crops and a flair for natural history and ecological studies.

His life was divided into two main phases. For 22 years he collected and studied intensively the wide range of plants, insects, butterflies and birds of Gazaland, running from south-eastern Rhodesia through Mozambique to the East Coast of Africa. His collections were sent to England and were identified and published in detail in the Ibis (birds) and in the Journal of the Linnaean Society (plants). He undertook numerous experiments with birds and insects and a wide range of ecological studies, the nature of which may be discerned from some of the titles of the papers in which they were published -

  • The Flora of Gazaland (1910)
  • Birds of Gazaland (1907-08)
  • Five Years Special Testing of Mimicry
  • Experiments on Some Carnivorous Insects
  • Factors in the Replacement of the Ancient East African Forest
  • On a Pair of Tame Ground Hornbills
  • Colouration of Mouths and Eggs of Birds

and some whose titles seem apposite even today -

  • Mixed Bird Parties
  • Birds in Relation to their Prey
  • Stray Notes on Birds
- written between 1907 and 1918.

From his collections he had a number of birds, plants and a fish named after him.

On 25th August 1908 he married Norah Aimee Geraldine Smyth, daughter of John Watt Smyth of Larne, Co.Antrim, a Judge of the Chief Court of the Punjab. They had three sons, Roger John Massy (1911), Gerald Henry (1914)) and Brian Fitzalan (1918).

In his studies and travels in Southern Rhodesia and Mozambique, Massy Swynnerton had built up a wide-ranging ecological knowledge of the area and in 1918 he was commissioned to undertake two assignments, one by the government of Southern Rhodesia to investigate the problem of cattle disease caused by tsetse fly on farms on the border with Mozambique, the second by the Mozambique Administration to examine the distribution and habits of tsetse fly on their side of the border in Mossurize District, where heavy losses had occurred among cattle from trypanosomiasis or the nagana disease. At that time tsetse fly occupied about 40% of the countries between the two Tropics, right across Africa, precluding the keeping of most forms of livestock, and therefore to a large extent, human habitation. It occupied two-thirds of Tanganyika Territory.

The second phase of Massy Swynnerton's life in Africa, for which the first had been gearing him up, began in 1919 when he was appointed to be the first Chief Game Warden in Tanganyika, when the British Administration was set up, with instructions to make a special study of the tsetse fly problem.

In 1928 the Government created the Department of Tsetse Research and Reclamation to which he was appointed Director. He established a highly scientific but practical team to study the natural habits of the fly in relation to its habitat and to evolve control measures over its several species, some transmitting human sleeping sickness, others nagana. The measures applied were largely those formulated by Swynnerton for Mozambique, based on modifications to the environment to preclude breeding or advance by the fly and to reclaim occupied land, followed by human settlement. Large areas of land were reclaimed and re-populated. Since these were the years of the Great Depression, a battle on a second front had to be fought to secure necessary funds for the work. Massy Swynnerton wrote the authoritative work on the tsetse fly, The Tsetse Flies of East Africa, published in 1936 by the Royal Entomological Society.

In 1937 he was awarded the CMG in the Coronation Honours of King George VI, but he was killed in an aeroplane crash on 8th June 1938 when flying to Dar-es-Salaam to receive the award from the Governor. He had been a pioneer of the use of the aeroplane for low-level ecological reconnaissance of the environment.

During his 19 years in Tanganyika he had advised a number of countries on game preservation and on tsetse reclamation and it is generally considered that his methods and his programmes had a wide and lasting impact on the control of the tsetse fly in Africa.

Massy Swynnerton was buried alongside a large outcrop on Shinyanga Kopie which overlooks part of the vast area of Tanganyika in which he worked for nearly twenty years. The grave has a great natural headstone and a bronze plaque bears the words Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice.

In 1940, the Council of the Rhodesia Scientific Association voted the sum of 25 for the erection of a memorial to the late C. F. M. Swynnerton. Members of the Association were invited to send in sketch designs and suggestions and the design submitted by R. G. B. Wilson was finally accepted as being the most suitable. Wilson prepared the working drawings and construction of the sandstone memorial was completed at the end of l94O by masons from the Mount Selinda Mission. A suitably inscribed bronze plaque appears in a conspicuous position on the memorial. The memorial still exists today in the heart of the magnificent forest where Massy Swynnerton spent so much of his time between 1900 and 1919 and which he loved so devotedly.

(See also Who's Who, Who was Who, Optima Dec.1971, Excelsa No 4 (1974).

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Professor Henry Hurd Swinnerton

Palaeontologist and Author. Published works include:

  • Nottinghamshire (1910)
  • Outlines of Palaentology - 2nd Edition (1933)
  • The Geology of Lincolnshire - with P. E. Kent (1949)
  • The Earth Beneath Us (Pelican Paper Back Edn.1958)
  • Fossils (1960)
  • (See Wikipedia article).

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    Professor HENRY HURD SWINNERTON, C.B.E., D.Sc., F.Z.S, F.G.S., A.R.C.S

    H. H. Swinnerton was born on the 17th September 1875, the son of an itinerant Wesleyan Methodist minister, the Reverend G.F. Swinnerton, whose triennial removals resulted in an early life spent in out-of-the-way country places, mainly in the Yorkshire Dales.

    He was educated at Woodhouse Grove School, near Leeds, and at Kingswood School, Bath. From 1894-97 he was an Assistant Master at Trowbridge High School and a student and demonstrator, Royal College of Science, 1897-19O1.

    In 1898 he passed the London University Degree Examination in Geology, Botany and Zoology, gaining the highest place in First Class Honours and qualifying for a University Scholarship at London University. He became Marshall Scholar in the Huxley Research Laboratory and Science Master at Kingswood School (his old school) 1900-1. After three years' research at the Royal College of Science he entered the University College of Nottingham as Lecturer and Demonstrator in Geology, Botany and Zoology.

    In 1906 he married Florence Daisy Bennett, the eldest daughter of Joseph Bennett of Nottingham and had three daughters.

    During the next few years he applied his training in zoology to the study of fossils and in 1912 was appointed to the Chair of Geology and Geography at University College, Nottingham which he held until 1946.

    He was elected to the Council of the Geographical Society in 1918 serving until 1920, and again from 1927-32 and in 1935. From 1936 to 1938 he was Vice-President, served as President 1938-40 and again as Vice-President 1940-4l. In 1942 he was awarded the Murchison Medal by the Council of the Society. For some years he was Vice-Principal of the Nottingham College and from 1939 onwards was Chairman of the University Joint Recruiting Board.

    In 1950 he was made Commander of the British Empire, Civil Division.

    He published many books and papers in Scientific Journals on Palaeontology, Archaelogy and Geography including The Geography of Nottinghamshire (Cambridge County Geog.); The Lands Behind the Bible Story; Outlines of Palaeontology (several editions); The Growth of the World and its inhabitants; Solving Earth's Mysteries; The Earth Beneath Us; and Fossils. His researches included the Development of Skeleton of Spherodon; of Head Skeleton of Gasterosteus, Morphology of Pectoral Skeleton of Teleosts.

    He gave his hobbies as writing, gardening, playing with fossils and painting in water colours.

    He died at the home of his son-in-law, the Headmaster's House, Haberdashers' Aske's School, Elstree, Herts. on the 6th November 1966.

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Dr Kirsty Swinnerton

Zoologist and ecologist, working on conservation of endangered species.
With a B.Sc. in zoology and a Ph.D. in biodiversity management, Kirsty's speciality in the reintroduction and recovery of rare species is raptors - taking the eggs, hatching and raising them in captivity where they are safe from predators, and then releasing them into the wild when mature. She is currently Project Manager for the Caribbean and has a home in Puerto Rico, but has worked all over the world including Mauritius, Maui, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Alaska.

Louise B Swenarton

American Chemist?

  • Helium : Bibliography of Technical and Scientific Literature from its discovery (1868) to January 1, 1947 (1947) [Joint author]