S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Rous, Mr Sloman Thomas (conchology)

Born: 1838, Place not known.
Died: 1907, at sea.

Sloman T. Rous, Fellow of the Linnean Society, settled in Port Elizabeth in 1867. In January 1882 he became a foundation member of the Port Elizabeth Naturalists' Society and was elected a member of its first management committee. At the society's fourth meeting the next month he displayed a collection of shells and at the next meeting, on 9 March, gave a lecture on the Mollusca. He showed a wider interest in natural history by collecting insects in British Kaffraria (that part of the Eastern Cape between the Keiskamma and Kei Rivers) with S.D. Bairstow*, on which they reported to the society in May 1882, and by his presentation of lectures on "The beetle" and "Preserving objects of natural history" during the society's first year. He was elected vice-president of the society for 1883. At that time he had already presented some shells from Algoa Bay to the Albany Museum, Grahamstown.

In 1884 the Port Elizabeth Naturalists' Society was renamed the Eastern Province Naturalists' Society and at its "conversazione" in December that year Rous exhibited an outstanding shell collection, as well as some Cape woods. He was president of the society in 1885 and was again elected vice-president at the annual meeting in January 1887, though he was not present at the meeting as he was indisposed. At the next annual meeting in January 1888 he sent in a letter of resignation, probably as a result of failing health, but it was not accepted by the meeting. He was, however, well enough to serve on the committee of management of the Port Elizabeth Museum that year.

In 1885 Rous presented rare sponges to the Albany Museum, Grahamstown, followed in 1886 by a collection of rare marine shells and some land shells new to the museum. During both years he assisted the museum with its shell collection. He was the first local amateur to dredge for molluscs, using the steamtug James Searl and the sailing vessel Edith Smith. He sent specimens to the British conchologist G.B. Sowerby* for identification and these included several new species. Sowerby named Latirus rousi, Tellina rousi and Nquma rousi after him.

Sloman Rous was probably the timber merchant S. Rous who resided in Upper Hill Street, Port Elizabeth, around 1890 and who, under the name Rous & Co, owned the Victoria steam saw mills in the town. At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899 he emigrated to the United States where he became a shell dealer and sold his duplicates. His personal collection was purchased by a collecter in Florida. In 1907, suffering from severe asthma, he decided to return to South Africa but died at sea.

List of sources:
Barnard, K.H. Personal names in South African conchology. Cape Town: Conchological Society of Southern Africa, 1965.

Cape of Good Hope. Catalogue of the natural history collections of the Albany Museum, Grahamstown (Appendix to Parliamentary Report G24-'83). Cape Town: W.A. Richards & Sons, 1883.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Committee of Management of the Albany Museum, 1885, 1886.

Cape of Good Hope. Report of the Port Elizabeth Museum, 1888.

Eastern Province Naturalists' Society. Minute book [No. 1] (12 January 1882 - 22 May 1885); Minute Book [No. 2] (3 July 1885 - 4 March 1892). (Africana collection, Port Elizabeth Public Library).

Eastern Province Naturalists' Society. Ninth annual report... for the year 1890 (List of members). Port Elizabeth: J. Kemsley, 1891.

General directory of South Africa, 1890/1891.

Kilburn, R. & Rippey, E. Sea shells of southern Africa. Johannesburg: Macmillan, 1982.

Steyn, D.G. & Lussi, M. Marine shells of South Africa. Hartebeespoort: Ekogilde, 1998.

Compiled by: C. Plug