Captain Thomas Brown

1785 – 8 October 1862

Scottish author, naturalist, ornithologist and malacologist

Born in Perth, Scotland, captain Thomas Brown was educated at the Edinburgh High School. At the age of twenty, he joined the Forfar and Kineardine Militia, raising to the rank of captain in 1811. 

When he was quartered in Manchester, he became interested in nature, and edited Oliver Goldsmith’s Animated Nature. After his regiment was disbanded, he bought the Fifeshire flax mill. But this burned down before Thomas Brown had the opportunity to insure it. He then started to write books about nature for a living. In 1840 he became curator of the Manchester Museum for twenty-two years.

Brown wrote several natural history books, a few dealing with conchology. He became a fellow of the Linnean Society, a member of the Wernerian, Kirwanian and Phrenological Societies, and president of the Royal Physical Society.

Born in Perth, Scotland, captain Thomas Brown was educated at the Edinburgh High School. At the age of twenty, he joined the Forfar and Kineardine Militia, raising to the rank of captain in 1811. 

When he was quartered in Manchester, he became interested in nature, and edited Oliver Goldsmith’s Animated Nature. After his regiment was disbanded, he bought the Fifeshire flax mill. But this burned down before Thomas Brown had the opportunity to insure it. He then started to write books about nature for a living. In 1840 he became curator of the Manchester Museum for twenty-two years.

He wrote several natural history books, a few dealing with conchology. He became a fellow of the Linnean Society, a member of the Wernerian, Kirwanian and Phrenological Societies, and president of the Royal Physical Society.

The full title of this book is : Illustrations of the American Ornithology of Alexander Wilson and Charles Lucian Bonaparte, Prince of Musignano”. With the addition of numerous recently discovered species and representations of the whole Sylva of North America.

This book contains 124 beautifully hand-colored engraved plates after Brown, Wilson, Rider, Kidd, Turvey, Lizars, Milne, Mayson, Scott, Johnstone and Mitchell. This work is one of the scarcest color-plate books on American ornithology. There have been only six complete copies at auctionin the last twenty-five years. 

The title-page of this book refers only to the works by Wilson and Bonaparte, but included in the more than five hundred engravings are illustrations based on the works of Audubon, Selby and others. Brown added 161 birds to those covered by Wilson and Bonaparte, with a further 187 being “considerably enlarged”. 

There are 167 trees and shrubs represented, all of which are identified in the index. The coloring is particularly fine and the botanical additions, including the floral backgrounds, are of the highest quality.