Albert Seward

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Albert Charles Seward FRS[1] (9 October 1863 – 11 April 1941) was a British botanist and geologist.


Seward was born in Lancaster. His first education was at Lancaster Grammar School and he then went on to St John's College, Cambridge, intending to fulfil parents' wish that he would dedicate his life to the Church.[2] His boyhood interest in botany and zoology soon resurfaced, helped along by inspiring lectures from William Crawford Williamson. His aptitude soon became apparent and he was appointed lecturer in botany at Cambridge University in 1890, later becoming a tutor at Emmanuel, and still later succeeding Harry Marshall Ward as Professor of Botany, Cambridge University from 1906 to 1936.[3] He was joint editor (with Francis Darwin) of More letters of Charles Darwin (1903). He was elected as fellow of the Royal Society in 1898 and was awarded the Murchison Medal of the Geological Society of London in 1908. In 1931 Seward dismissed the notion of a biological origin of stromatolites. This rejection became known as "Seward's folly".[4]

Seward's studies of Mesozoic palaeobotany earned him membership of the Royal Society at the youthful age of thirty-five. He devoted a great deal of time to education, both as college and departmental administrator, and as writer on educational matters. This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation Seward when citing a botanical name.[5]

His interest in plants went beyond the living and the fossil. In 1935 he published a study on the floral carvings in the chapter house of Southwell Minster[6].

Seward died in Oxford, aged 77.


Selected publications

  • Fossil Floras of Cape Colony (1903)
  • More Letters of Charles Darwin (Volume 1, Volume 2, 1903) [with Francis Darwin]
  • Darwin and Modern Science (1909)
  • Links With the Past in the Plant World (1911)
  • Science and the Nation (1917)
  • Plant Life Through the Ages (1933)


  1. ^ Thomas, H. H. (1941). "Albert Charles Seward. 1863-1941". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 3 (10): 867–880. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1941.0039.
  2. ^ "Seward, Albert Charles (SWRT883AC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ JSTOR obituary
  4. ^ Junto Society Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Brummitt, R. K.; C. E. Powell (1992). Authors of Plant Names. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-085-4.
  6. ^ Seward, A.C. (1935). "The Foliage, Flowers and Fruit of Southwell Chapter House" (PDF). Proceedings of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society. 35: 1–32.
  7. ^ "Review of Fossil Plants as Tests of Climate by A. C. Seward". The Academy. 44 (1105): 34. 8 July 1893.
  8. ^ Seward, Albert Charles, The Wealden Flora: Catalogue of the mesozoic plants in the departement of geology British Museum (Natural History), London British Museum 1894 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  9. ^ Western Kentucky University
  10. ^ Amazon Books
  11. ^ IPNI.  Seward.

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Frederick Howard Marsh
Master of Downing College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Herbert William Richmond
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