- Also known as
Dr Charles Davies Sherborn
primary name: Sherborn, Charles Davies
- individual; academic/intellectual; collector; scientist/engineer; British; Male
- Life dates
- 30 June 1861-22 June 1942
- 5 (now 10) Gunter Grove, Chelsea (born at);
'Stonyhurst', 540 King's Road (parents' house);
507 King's Road, London (his first home, a rented first floor flat);
49 Peterborough Road, Fulham, London SW6 (1937)
British Museum (Natural History) (1937)
- DSc. Eldest son of Charles William Sherborn, the engraver of book plates (q.v.), of whose work he gave a large collection to the BM. Born on 30th June 1861 at 5 Gunter Grove, Chelsea (this property is apparently now number 10.) He left school at the age of 15 to become a business apprentice in various trades before going to the University of Strasburg in 1886/87 where he became attracted to geology and palaeontology, especially Foraminifera.
His relationship with the Natural History Museum began in 1888 and although he was paid to undertake various works, he was never an established member of staff. However, he worked for the museum throughout his life, mainly assisting with acquisitions, and thus was often mistaken as a member of its curatorial staff; his permanent desk in the library of the museum became popularly known as "Squire's Corner". In 1890 he collaborated with Sir Arthur Smith Woodward, Keeper of Geology at the Natural History Museum, on "A Catalogue of British Fossil Vertebrata" and he catalogued collections and library of the Geological Society of London. He examined and arranged papers of Sir Richard Owen at Sheen Lodge (much material relating to Mary Anning was dispersed unfortunately). In c. 1890 he also proposed the Index Animalium, a complete list of generic and trivial names from 1758-1850, and which is still in use today. This was his biggest single accomplishment which he had originally intended should cover the period from 1766-1899, but already took forty years to complete in its present form. In 1931 the University of Oxford conferred onto him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. In 1936, together with a small group of scientists, librarians and bibliographers centred at the British Museum (Natural History), he co-founded the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History, which he not only led but of which he was subsequently named as its first President.
He lived a spartan bachelor life but collected stamps, coins, books, manuscripts, prints, and antiquities of all kinds, which he appears to have acquired through thorough trawling of the London antique shops as there is little record of him having done much travelling. He presented a valuable series of Byzantine coins to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge just before his death. His prints went to the Art Department of University College, London. He also donated much to the Natural History Museum, plus a collection of Great Britain, 1841 1d pink postal stationery envelopes to The British Library (1913); and assorted drawings (1912, 1918, 1931, 1936, 1940, 1944), coins, medals and books (1923, 1927, 1929, 1938), Classical antiquities (1909, 1932, 1936), Egyptian antiquities (1922, 1933, 1935), an object from Barbados (1925), two post-Medieval English items, including a box made by his father (1931), a Chinese bronze (1933), assorted minor Iron Age, Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon antiquities (1934), and a collection of prehistoric British flints, Byzantine lead sealings, a Mesopotamian cuneiform tablet and three "Luristan bronzes" to The British Museum (1935). Several of these objects were entered on deposit on 21 March 1933 under a mis-spelling of his name, "Dr Sherborne" (ME deposit book).
He died on 22 June 1942. The majority of his papers and correspondence are held in the British Library, with additional manuscripts in the Natural History Museum library, and his bequest of banknotes to The British Museum arrived via the executor of his will, Mr W.H.T. Tam, also of the British Museum (Natural History).
- F. J. Griffin, "Charles Davies Sherborn (1861-1942): some personal recollections", 'Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History', 1, 14 (December 1953); J. R. Norman, 'Squire, Memories of Charles Davies Sherborn', London: George G Harrrap & Co, 1944; obituary in 'Nature', vol. 150, p. 146 (1 August 1942).