S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Andrews, Dr Charles William (palaeontology)

Born: 1866, London, England.
Died: 25 May 1924, London, England.

Charles William Andrews, British palaeontologist, was awarded the BA degree by the University of London in 1887, followed by a BSc (Hons) in Zoology in 1890. After some time as a schoolmaster he joined the staff of the British Museum (Natural History) in 1892 and eventually rose to assistant keeper in its Geology Department. He became a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1895, was awarded the Lyell fund of the Geological Society of London in 1896, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1906, and awarded the Lyell Medal of the Geological Society of London in 1916. The University of London awarded him the Doctor of Science (DSc) degree in 1900.

Andrews studied the extinct birds of Madagascar, New Zealand, the Chatham Islands (south-east of New Zealand) and Patagonia, and the marine reptiles of the Oxford Clay. In 1897-1898 he went on a fossil collecting expedition to Christmas Island and Cocos-Keeling (now the Cocos Islands), between western Australia and Indonesia. He also undertook several expeditions to the Fayoum Province, Egypt, between 1900 and 1906 to collect fossil vertebrates, and visited Christmas Island again in 1908.

His findings were published in numerous scientific papers, most of which dealt with fossil vertebrates. Those papers published between 1896 and 1922 were re-issued under the title Collected papers at the end of his career. At least one of his papers dealt with South African fossils and was published locally, namely, "Description of a new Plesiosaur (Plesiosaurus Capensis sp. nov.) from the Uitenhage beds of Cape Colony" (Annals of the South African Museum, 1911, Vol. 7(4), 14p). He also first described a species of Simopithecus, a genus of baboon-like fossil primates from Kenya, in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History in 1916. His more comprehensive publications included A monograph of Christmas Island, Indian Ocean (London, 1900); A descriptive catalogue of the Tertiary Vertebrata of the Fayum, Egypt (London, 1906); and A descriptive catalogue of the marine reptiles of the Oxford clay (2 vols, London, 1910-1913).

Andrews was plagued by illness from about 1900 onwards, yet was always helpful and encouraging to museum visitors and colleagues.

List of sources:

Annals of the South African Museum. List of papers published in Volumes 1-30. Cape Town: Trustees of the South African Museum, 1938.

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

Obituary: Dr C.W. Andrews FRS. Nature, 7 June 1924, Vol. 113, pp. 827-828.

Report of the seventy-fifth meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, South Africa, 1905, List of members.

Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa (SESA). Cape Town: NASOU, 1970-1976.

Who was who, Vol. 2, 4th ed., 1967. London: Adam & Black.

Compiled by: C. Plug