S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science




Jameson, Dr Henry Lyster (biology, zoology)

Born: 1875, Newry, County Armagh, Ireland.
Died: 26 February 1922, West Mersea, Essex, United Kingdom.

H. Lyster Jameson, zoologist, studied zoology, botany, physiology and geology at Trinity College, Dublin, from 1891 and was awarded the degree Bachelor of Arts (BA) with first class honours in 1896. He subsequently qualified as Master of Arts (MA) and Doctor of Science (DSc) at the same institution in 1902. While still an undergraduate student he assisted the French speleologist Edouard A. Martel in exploring and studying the fauna of the caves at Mitchelstown and Enniskillen. During 1893-1897 he published several papers on the bats of Ireland in the Irish Naturalist and conducted other zoological research for the Royal Irish Academy and and as an assistant at the Irish Museum in Dublin.

From September 1896 he spent a year at the Royal College of Science in London and then proceeded to the Zoological Institute at the University of Heidelberg where he was awarded the degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in 1899. His thesis was titled Contributions to the anatomy and histology of Thalassema neptuni Gaertner, and dealt with a species of worm belonging to the the class Echiurida. He found it difficult to obtain an academic appointment, but from 1901 was a lecturer in natural science at the Municipal the Technical College at Derby, England. Meanwhile he continued his zoological research.

Jameson suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis and came to South Africa in 1902 to benefit from its warm and dry climate. He was employed by the Education Department of the Transvaal Colony. In 1903 he married Millicent Lucy Parker, with whom he had two daughters, and that same year became an inspector of schools in Natal Colony. In October 1904 he was appointed secretary to the Natal Technical Education Commission, which reported on higher and technical education in the colony in May the next year.

Jameson was a life member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science from 1896. When the association came to South Africa to meet with its South African counterpart in 1905 he delivered a paper, "On some Natal land planarians", in which he described five new species. Little was then known of these flatworms (class Turbellaria) in South Africa and his paper was therefore a significant contribution. It was included in the Addresses and papers... published after the meeting (Vol. 3, pp. 27-39). He was furthermore sub-editor for Section D (Zoology) of these volumes.

By 1906 Jameson resided in Johannesburg, where he was appointed professor of biology at the Transvaal University College. He was a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science and at its annual congress held in Kimberley in 1906 reviewed the history of higher education in the four South African colonies. At the association's next meeting in 1907, held in Natal, he spoke on "An ethnographic bureau for South Africa", the function of which would be research and training of staff who deal with the indigenous races of the country. In 1909 he sent some bats and rodents to the South African Museum as part of an exchange and published a note, "On a sub-fossil hare from a cave deposit at Godwan River" (somewhere along the railway line from Pretoria to Delagoa Bay) in the Annals of the Transvaal Museum (Vol. 1(3), pp. 195-196). That same year he described a collection of 66 species of mammals which he had made in South Africa in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History.

Meanwhile Jameson had left South Africa in 1908 and was employed by the Board of Education in England. He was elected a Fellow of the Zoological Society that same year. Later he became a sea fishery officer. Throughout his career he had an interest in pearls and particularly the biology of the pearl industry. In 1912 he delivered a paper before the British Association on "Biological science and the pearling industry". Other papers by him at this time dealt with the failure of the Ceylon pearl fisheries (1912), a detailed study demonstrating the parasitic theory of pearl formation in edible mussels (1912), and the Japanese artificially induced pearl (1921).

After the Russian revolution of 1917 Jameson became interested in economic and political reform and supported Marxist economic theory.


List of sources:
Addresses and papers read at the joint meeting of the British and South African associations for the Advancement of Science held in South Africa, 1905. Johannesburg: SAAAS, 1906.

Annals of the Transvaal Museum, 1909, Vol. 1.

British Association for the Advancement of Science. Report of the seventy-fifth meeting... South Africa, 1905. London: John Murray, 1906.

Brookes, E.H. A history of the University of Natal. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1966.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the trustees of the South African Museum, 1909.

Craven, S.A. Henry Paul William Lyster Jameson, MA, DSc, PhD (1875-1922) – a polymath: zoologist, Transvaal educationist, entrepreneur, civil servant and Marxist. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa, 2012, Vol. 67(3), pp. 127-134.

Google scholar. http://scholar.google.co.za Publications by H.L. Jameson.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Jameson, Henry Lyster.

National Union Catalogue, pre-1956 imprints. London: Mansell, 1968-1980.

Royal Society of London. Catalogue of scientific papers [1800-1900]. London: Royal Society, 1867-1925.

South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1905/6, 1907.

South African who's who, 1908.


Compiled by: C. Plug


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