West, William (1848 – 1914)

William West (senior) was born on the edge of Woodhouse Moor, Leeds. He studied and qualified as a pharmacist, setting up in business in Bradford in 1872. He married Hannah Wainwright (also from Woodhouse Moor); and they had two sons and a daughter.

Their sons, William and George, went to Cambridge University and involved themselves in botanical work. Sadly, William West died young (aged 26), whilst working in India (see obituary notice : Journal of Botany, 1901).

In 1886, William West (senior) was appointed lecturer in Botany at the Bradford Technical College. He became secretary of the botanical section of the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union, and was elected President in 1899.  In 1887, he was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society and played an active role in the British Association.

Between 1878 and 1887, he demonstrated his wide and accurate botanical knowledge, publishing many notes and papers on mosses, lichens, roses and contributed much to Lees’ Flora of West Yorkshire.

However, his studies became more specialised for a time, focussing (in conjunction with his son George) on freshwater algae. Over the next few years, the two Wests became the experts in this field – their studies leading to the ‘Monograph of the British Desmidiaceae’. Towards the end of his working life, William West turned to the ecology of cryptogams.

William West died from heart failure, possibly associated with the difficulties that he had faced  with asthma for many years.

William West jnr (1875-1901)

William West junior (jnr is often written on his sheets at H@H) was the first son of William West (1848 – 1914), see above . He and his brother followed their father’s botanical interests and leanings.

He was educated at Cambridge University and started on a botanical career but died young in India. Several of the H@H sheets indicate that father and son went botanising together. His brother (G S West) went on to become Professor at Birmingham.

Summary dates for the West family

William West (father)        1848 – 1914     (22/2/1848-14/5/1914)

William West (eldest son) 1875 – 1901

George Stephen West (younger son) 1876 – 1919

George West died from double pneumonia (August 7th, 1919), having suffered from ill health consequent upon an influenza infection some four years previous.  He was a specialist in freshwater algae – especially the desmids.

He was educated at Bradford Technical College, then the Royal College of Science, London and St John’s College, Cambridge.  He held the post of demonstrator in Biology at the University, before taking lectureship (in Natural History) at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester.

In 1906, he was appointed as lecturer in Botany at Birmingham (under Professor Hillhouse, who he was to succeed as Mason professor).  He was regarded as a good lecturer and teacher, who enlarged the department.  His obituary in the Journal of Botany 1919 notes that the herbarium was “almost entirely his creation“.

Sources : Obituaries in the Journal of Botany 1914 (Vol 52,) & 1919 (Vol 57), available at archive.org

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