S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Arber, Mr Edward Alexander Newell (palaeobotany)

Born: 5 August 1870, London, United Kingdom.
Died: 14 June 1918, Cambridge, United Kingdom.

E. A. Newell Arber, British botanist and palaeontologist, studied at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, from 1895, specialising in botany and geology. In 1899 he was appointed demonstrator in palaeobotany in the Woodwardian (later Sedgewick) Museum in Cambridge, a post he held for the rest of his life. From 1901 to 1906 he was also responsible for the naming and arrangement of the palaeobotanical collection in the Geology Department of the British Museum and regularly visited museums in other European countries.

Arber's contributions to palaeobotany dealt mainly with the application of palaeobotanical evidence to stratigraphical problems. For example, one of his early papers dealt with the use of Carboniferous plants as zonal indicators and he produced a series of papers on the fossil floras and geological structure of English coal-fields. His publications included the following major works: Catalogue of the fossil plants of the Glossopteris flora in the department of geology, British Museum (Natural History): being a monograph of the permo-carboniferous flora of India and the southern hemisphere (1905, 255 pp.); The Natural History of Coal (1911, 163 pp.); The earlier mesozoic Floras of New Zealand (1917, 80 pp.); and Devonian Floras (1921, 100 pp., reprinted in 2010). He was elected a Fellow of both the Linnean Society and the Geological Society of London, and was a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science from 1900. By 1905 he served on a committee of the association that investigated the structure of fossil plants.

Arber contributed two locally published papers on the palaeoflora of southern Africa: "A note on a fossil wood from Intombi Camp, Ladysmith" (Annals of the Natal Museum, 1910, Vol. 2, pp. 233-234) and "Notes on the fossil plants from Rhodesia collected by Mr AJC Molyneux" (Proceedings of the Rhodesia Scientific Association, 1912-3, Vol. 12, pp. 113-119).

In 1909 Arber married the prominent British botanist Agnes Arber (MA, DSc), with whom he had a daughter.

List of sources:

Annals of the Natal Museum, 1910, Vol. 2, paper by Arber.

Arber, Edward Alexander Newell. In: Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, at http://en.wikipedia.org

Archives hub. http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb590-arbr

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

Proceedings of the Rhodesia Scientific Association, 1912-3, Vol. 12, paper by Arber.

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

Who was who, Vol. 5, 2nd ed., 1964 (Agnes Arber). London: Adam & Black.

Compiled by: C. Plug