S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Morgan, Mr Conwy Lloyd (zoology)

Born: 6 February 1852, London, United Kingdom.
Died: 6 March 1936, Hastings, United Kingdom.

Conwy Lloyd Morgan, British geologist, zoologist, comparative psychologist and philosopher, studied at the Royal School of Mines in London from about 1869, obtaining a diploma in mining and metallurgy. However, he was interested mainly in pure science. He travelled extensively in North and South America as a private tutor to a wealthy family from Chicago. Subsequently he studied at the Royal College of Science in London (later part of the Imperial College of Science and Technology) and was influenced profoundly by the biologist T.H. Huxley*. His first scientific paper, "On the drift of Brazil", was published in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society in 1876, and was soon followed by two more on geological topics. In June 1878 he married Emily C. Maddock, with whom he had two sons.

In 1878 Morgan was appointed at the Diocesan College in Rondebosch, Cape Town, to teach physical science, English literature, and constitutional history. From 1878 to 1882 he made regular meteorological observations at Rondebosch for the Meteorological Commission of the Cape of Good Hope. A summary of his observations was published in the Commission's annual Report. During the few years he spent at the Cape he participated actively in the affairs of the South African Philosophical Society (founded in 1877). The papers he read before the society during 1878-1881 dealt with "Note on the 'Singerjie' [cicada] (Platypleura capensis)", "On the terms Force and Energy", "On the (alleged) suicide of the scorpion", and "Miniature physical geology". On the latter occasion (July 1880) he also exhibited specimens of Peripatus capensis. His last paper, described as "remarkably interesting", was "Notes on animal intelligence" (February 1882). He was elected on the society's council in July 1881, and re-elected a year later. Council members were expected to present public lectures and during 1881 Morgan delivered a lecture titled "On geology". He was still at the Cape in May 1883, when he attended the society's monthly meeting. Meanwhile he had published papers on "Animal intelligence" (1882) and "Canine intelligence" (1883-1884) in British journals.

In 1884 Morgan returned to England and was appointed professor of geology and zoology at the University College, Bristol. He remained there for the rest of his professional life, becoming principal of the college in 1887, and for a few months during 1909-1910 vice-chancelor of its successor, the University of Bristol. Thereafter he was appointed professor of psychology and ethics until his retirement in 1919. He was a man of intellectual eminence and a kindly personality who was widely liked and respected. Though at first interested mainly in geology he soon shifted his attention to animal behaviour and comparative psychology, in which he was a British pioneer and published many papers. Later still he turned to philosophy. One of his early books, Animal sketches (London, 1891) dealt with, among others, several South African animals, namely the baboon, ostrich, snakes, and chameleons. He was a prolific writer and among his many publications were books on Animal life and intelligence (1890-1891), An introduction to comparative psychology (1894), Psychology for teachers (1894), Habit and instinct (1896), Animal behaviour (1900), Instinct and experience (1912), Eugenics and environment (1919), and Emergent evolution (1922). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1899.

List of sources:
Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Meteorological Commission, 1878-1882.

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

Oxford dictionary of national biography. Oxford University Press, 2004.

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

South African bibliography to the year 1925. London: Mansell, 1979.

South African Philosophical Society. Transactions, 1877-1883, Vol. 1-3.

Compiled by: C. Plug