Thomas Alan Stephenson FRS


A British naturalist  and marine biologist specialising in sea anemones. Born in Burnham into a Wesleyan family 19/01/1898 . Died 03/04/1898. His father was a minister and amateur botanist.

The family did not remain in Burnham for long after his birth but moved to the Wesleyan trinity College at Richmond, Surrey, where  Thomas’ father had taken a post as a tutor. When Thomas was 6 his father took up the duties of a Wesleyan minister and the family began to move around the country on a ‘circuit’.

Thomas later attended  Kingswood School, Lansdown Road, Bath, which was a private Wesleyan school (as shown in the 1911 Census when he was aged 13).

He showed and early interest in botany, and began to study the local sea anemones  during his student days at Aberystwyth University. Unfortunately he had to abandon his studies because of illness. Despite not completing his degree, he was made a staff member and was later awarded a doctorate for the body of work that he had produced.

He was also made a  Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS),   an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a ‘substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science’

Stephenson held a number of academic posts in Britain, and at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Significantly, his final position was that of Professor and Head of the Department of Zoology at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.

The National Marine Biological Library at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth hold some of his personal and scientific records, including paintings, negatives and notebooks on South Africa.

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