Bennett, Alfred William (1833 – 1902)

Alfred William Bennett, MA FLS (24/6/1833 – 23/1/1902).

Alfred William Bennett was born in Clapham in 1833. William, his father was a successful businessman (tea dealer) and the family  moved down to Brockham.  William bred emus, and was a friend of Newham and the Doubledays.

Between 1851 – 54, Alfred, his brother Edward Trusted Bennett and his father William went a number of walking tours of Wales and other parts of the country; details of which may be found in various editions of ‘The Phytologist’.

Alfred took a M.A.

degree at University College,  London and went into publishing for some years.   At about this time, he was proprietor70-547 and editor of ‘The Friend’ – a journal which recorded matters of interest to The Society of Friends.

He was one of the first people to use photography in the illustration of books, and was one of the early sub-editors of the journal “Nature”. Later, he lectured in
botany at St Thomas’ Hospital and Bedford College for many years, and translated various foreign works on botany e.g. Text-book of Structural and Physiological botany, Otto Wilhelm Thomé tr. and ed. by A.W. Bennett, and  Sachs’ Textbook of Botany in conjunction with Thistleton Dyer).

He had a particular interest in alpine plants and the pollination and fertilisation of plants, for example writing papers on protandry and protogyny (J of Bot ,vol viii, p.315).  This area of his work brought him into contact with Charles Darwin.  In 1875, he went on a walking our in Switzerland with J G Baker.

He was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 1868; and served on the Council of that Society.  He was a member of the Royal Microscopical Society (editor of its journal).

He died from heart disease in 1902 and was buried at the Friends’ cemetery at Isleworth.

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