s John Freeman Milward Dovaston (17821854). A friend of Thomas Bewick according to Forrest and an early investigator of migration:

From ‘Two old Shropshire naturalists’, Forrest (1910) in Transactions of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club, page 128

s Rowland (Lord) Hill (18001875)

He built a new wing to the estate house at Hawkstone specifically to accommodate a collection of birds and mammals, many mounted by Henry and John Shaw of Shrewsbury. He experimented with species introductions, some of which appear in the pages of this database. If his collection survives, with an inventory, it would be a resource worth investigating further.

s Thomas Campbell Eyton (18091880) was the first to attempt a list of the birds of the county, in 1838 and 1839.


Regrettably we have no picture


s John Rocke (18171881)

Rocke lived at Clungunford House in Clungunford, south Shropshire, a building in the Rocke family ownership until 1990.  His collection of birds (mounted skins of course), was at one stage claimed to be the finest and most complete in the country, and was housed in its own wing at Clungunford.  Some of Rocke’s collection, the work of Henry Shaw, survives (much faded now) in storage Ludlow Museum.  His four-part ‘Ornithological notes from Shropshire’ published in the Zoologist in 1865 and 1866, was the second sizeable county account following that of Eyton a quarter of a century earlier and a decade before Beckwith’s major works.

s William Edmund Beckwith (1844–1892). Beckwith was second only to Forrest as the best informed and most prolific writer on the birds of the county. He was in the process of writing his serialised “Notes on the Birds of Shropshire” in the Transactions of the Shropshire Natural History and Philosophical Society, when with nine instalments published he was about halfway through, he died. He fell ill suddenly with sclerosis of the liver and died two days later on 22 July 1892, aged only 48. See below for the book containing all his published works.

s The Chadderton taxidermist. By John Houghton Hague 1842-1934 Reproduced by kind permission of Gallery Oldham [www.galleryoldham.org.uk/homepage]

A slight liberty taken with the size of the Hoopoe and I think Henry ‘Harry’ Shaw’s place at 45 High Street in Shrewsbury would have been a little better organised.




s Henry ‘Harry’ Shaw (18121887), the celebrated taxidermist of Shrewsbury. He deserves a place British ornithological history for recognising England’s first Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla); it was obtained near Shrewsbury on 25 October 1841 and brought to Mr Shaw who recognised it and sent it on to Yarrell who published it in his History of British Birds.

s Mr Shaw moved his business to 45 High Street in 1870 (picture of January 2011). See John Shaw.

s John Shaw (1816–1888), brother of Henry Shaw and also a taxidermist. Both he and his brother were taught their trade by their father who had a shop in Shoplatch, demolished in 1868 to make way for the then New Market Hall.





v Henry (Harry) Shaw’s shop at number 45 on the High Street in Shrewsbury in about 1898. The gentleman on the right in the doorway, standing next to the coracle, is believed to Henry’s son, also Henry; Harry died in 1887.




s John Hugh Owen, FLS (1877–1959). Owen was probably most notable for his ability to find nests and his meticulous observations of nesting behaviours. There is a mention in his obituary of him sometimes seemingly grumpy, shades of which might be visible in this image of him (far right) with a group of members of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club on a field outing.

From CSVFC Transactions 1957 p.141 taken by LC Lloyd on 22 May 1951.

s Herbert Edward Forrest (18581942). Forrest was a polymath, perhaps before the word was invented. He gave talks and published papers on a huge variety of geological, archaeological and zoological subjects, far too many to relate here. Relating to birds he published The Fauna of Shropshire in 1899 and edited the bird chapter of the Victoria County History of 1908. He was responsible for writing most of the early annual Record of Bare Facts of the Caradoc.



v The corner of the Shropshire Archive in Shrewsbury holding, top left, the collection of the papers of the Shropshire Natural History and Philosophical Society and its successor the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club.





u The shelved volumes of the Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club, 1892 to 1960, in the Shropshire Archive. Every page of these volumes with a reference to birds, along with those of the Shropshire Natural History and Philosophical Society, have been scanned for the ‘Historical’ database.


s The ‘Marsh Warbler’ saga. This bird, labelled Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris), was somehow obtained in Much Wenlock, Shropshire on 13 September 1971 by ‘H. Southern’ and now lies in the archives of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as specimen number 1971Z63. ‘H. Southern’ might well be Henry (‘Mick’) Neville Southern (1908–1986). According to Wikipedia “In 1946 the Department of Zoological Field Studies in Oxford was formed from the Animal Population Bureau and the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology and ‘Mick’ Southern was made a Senior Research Officer. … He edited The Handbook of British Mammals (1964), the journal Bird Study (1954–60) and the Journal of Animal Ecology (1968–75).” Who else in Much Wenlock would have recognised a Marsh Warbler, especially when it was not singing? The bird, one of a handful of the species recorded in the county, was not reported to the SOS and casual enquires through the media have not revealed any Southern familial links in Much Wenlock – perhaps he was just passing though, or it was a different ‘H. Southern’.

The bird was confirmed at the museum by two qualified Shropshire ringers with experience of Acrocephalus warblers. In two duplicated tests the DNA analysis by Prof. Collinson identifies the bird as from a different genus, Sylvia borin, Garden Warbler, which the specimen does not resemble. The conundrum remains unresolved.

Photo: Martin George








t Britain’s first Magnificant Frigatebird, Fregata magnificens, now in the Natural History Museum at Tring. The bird was found, alive, in a field near Prees Heath by Philip Harney on 7 November 2005 and taken to an animal sanctuary for care but it unfortunately died. In life the bird would have been about 100cm long with a wing-span of about 240cm.

Photo: Stephen Haycox.


v Erythristic Rook eggs, (bottom row, second from left) among 'normal' clutches of Rook eggs collected from around the country.

The erythristic eggs were collected from a Rookery in the grounds of Ellesmere College, Shropshire on 29th March 1958 by TA (Tony) Waddell.

The entire Waddell Oological Collection is now permanently housed at the Department of Natural Sciences, National Museums of Scotland, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF. At the time of collection, the only other erythristic Rook eggs known were from Dorset and Germany.

(Unfortunately the Waddell collection has not yet been digitalised for ease of reference. At such time as it is, it will be made available here on Histo).



Beckwith published 188 pages in a total of 13 papers; his Birds of Shrewsbury of 1878, Birds of Shropshire 1979 & 1881, Sea birds Inland (in The Field, 1886) and his nine-part Notes on the Birds of Shropshire of 1887-1893. Regrettable his sudden death in 1892, when he was only 48, prevented him from writing all his work into a single volume, which he apparently planned according to Forrest in his Fauna of Shropshire of 1899.



u St Mary’s Church, Eaton Constantine (SO5906), at which his father Henry was Rector; he died in 1888. The three Beckwith graves are close to the church, far right.





u The three Beckwith graves; Henry, William’s father, with his wife Ann Rose on the right, William on the left and his sister Rose Caroline behind. Only one of the crosses, that of Rose, remains standing.






v William E Beckwith’s grave recording his death on 1 July 1892 aged 48.







uWilliam Beckwith’s grave, several years ago, with what was then the best available copy of all his published work. Since then John and Peter have published Beckwith’s Nineteenth Century Birds of Shropshire, an account of his life and containing all Beckwith’s published work.

The Field, or Field, at the Bodleian Library in Oxford; September 2013

v Eleven volumes of Field from the nineteenth century, each containing half a year’s material, during searches in September 2013. Each volume contained one, possible two, short paragraphs relevant to Histo. Restricted to four volumes at a time, collected from distant storage vaults, a search of the complete series (and the Bodleian does not have a complete collection) would be a major undertaking for which there are currently no plans.



Histo has closed its books to new information, accepting new records and references to them, up to 31.12.2020.

Old records will continue to be discovered, in a variety of forms, and the key ones will probably feature in short notes in The Buzzard.

The hard copy of Histo’s material is stored, in Item number order (chronologically) in around two dozen lever-arch files kept in three plastic storage boxes deposited in the SOS Archive.

Should Histo ever fail online then the hard copy should endure as the ultimate backup

John and Pater Tucker

September 2022

u John and Peter Tucker (right)

John the author of The Historical Ornithology of Shropshire and Peter, the designer and manager of the website. Photographed in Abuko Forest National Park in The Gambia in January 2009 during work on the Management Plan for Farasuto Forest Community Nature Reserve [www.farasuto.org].

John Tucker [www.lanius.org.uk]
Peter Tucker [www.holbrook-design.co.uk]