Francis Willughby
Francis Willughby (22 November 1635 – 3 July 1672) was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

Ornithology is a branch of zoology that concerns the study of birds. Several aspects of ornithology differ from related disciplines, due partly to the high visibility and the aesthetic appeal of birds...

 and ichthyologist
Ichthyology is the branch of zoology devoted to the study of fish. This includes skeletal fish , cartilaginous fish , and jawless fish...

. He was a student, friend and colleague of the naturalist John Ray
John Ray
John Ray was an English naturalist, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history. Until 1670, he wrote his name as John Wray. From then on, he used 'Ray', after "having ascertained that such had been the practice of his family before him".He published important works on botany,...

 at Cambridge University, and shared some of his expeditions and interests. Ray saw Willughby's Ornithologia libri tres through the press after Willughby's sudden death.

Life and work

Willughby was born at Middleton Hall
Middleton Hall
Middleton Hall is a Grade II listed building dating back to medieval times. It is situated in the North Warwickshire district of the county of Warwickshire in England, south of Fazeley and Tamworth and on the opposite side of the A4091 road to Middleton village.The Manor of Middleton was held by...

, Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

 to Sir Francis Willoughby and Cassandra Ridgway. He studied at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School
Bishop Vesey's Grammar School
Bishop Vesey's Grammar School is a selective state grammar school in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. Founded in 1527, it is one of the oldest schools in the United Kingdom. The school was a day and boarding school until the 1880s, and retained a small number of boarders in the mid-20th century...

, Sutton Coldfield
Sutton Coldfield
Sutton Coldfield is a suburb of Birmingham, in the West Midlands of England. Sutton is located about from central Birmingham but has borders with Erdington and Kingstanding. Sutton is in the northeast of Birmingham, with a population of 105,000 recorded in the 2001 census...

  and Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. Trinity has more members than any other college in Cambridge or Oxford, with around 700 undergraduates, 430 graduates, and over 170 Fellows...

. In 1667 he married Emma Barnard, daughter of Sir Henry Barnard of Bridgnorth and London. They had three children. The first child, Francis, died at the age of nineteen, while his daughter Cassandra Willoughby
Cassandra Willoughby, Duchess of Chandos
Cassandra Willoughby, Duchess of Chandos was a British historian, travel writer and artist.She was the daughter of Francis Willoughby of Wollaton, Nottinghamshire, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a writer on natural history, and his wife Emma, the daughter of Sir Henry Barnard of Bridgnorth,...

 married the Duke Chandos
James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos
James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos, MP, PC was the first of fourteen children by Sir James Brydges, 3rd Baronet of Wilton Castle, Sheriff of Herefordshire, 8th Baron Chandos; and Elizabeth Barnard...

, who was a patron of Mark Catesby
Mark Catesby
Mark Catesby was an English naturalist. Between 1731 and 1743 Catesby published his Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first published account of the flora and fauna of North America...

. His second son was Thomas
Thomas Willoughby, 1st Baron Middleton
Thomas Willoughby, 1st Baron Middleton was a Baron in the Peerage of Great Britain.He was born at Middleton Hall, Middleton, Warwickshire, the second son of Francis Willughby, the famed mathematician and naturalist , and was educated at St Catharine's College, Cambridge and Jesus...

, who became Baron Middleton, one of ten peers created by Queen Anne.

At Cambridge Francis Willughby was taught by the naturalist John Ray
John Ray
John Ray was an English naturalist, sometimes referred to as the father of English natural history. Until 1670, he wrote his name as John Wray. From then on, he used 'Ray', after "having ascertained that such had been the practice of his family before him".He published important works on botany,...

. In 1662 they travelled to the west coast of England to study the breeding seabirds. Between 1663 and 1666 they toured Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 together, travelling through the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. They separated at Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 and Willoughby returned home via Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. On returning to England they made plans to publish the results of their studies. Willughby died from pleurisy
Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the pleural cavity surrounding the lungs. Among other things, infections are the most common cause of pleurisy....

 during the preparation of this work, but Ray published Willughby's Ornithologia libri tres in 1676, with an English edition two years later. This is considered the beginning of scientific ornithology in Europe, revolutionizing ornithological taxonomy
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

 by organizing species according to their physical characteristics. Willughby and Ray were among the first to dismiss the older inaccuracies of Aristotle. Aristotle had claimed that swallows hibernated but Willughby and Ray (1678:212, quoted in Raven 1942:328) wrote: “To us it seems more probable that they fly away into hot countries, viz. Egypt, Ethiopia etc.” Ray also published Willughby's De Historia piscium
De Historia piscium
De Historia Piscium, Latin for "The History of Fishes", was a scientific book by written by Francis Willughby and published by the Royal Society in 1686. It was unpopular and sold poorly, causing severe strain on the finances of the society...

The Willughby family seat, Wollaton Hall
Wollaton Hall
Wollaton Hall is a country house standing on a small but prominent hill in Wollaton, Nottingham, England. Wollaton Park is the area of parkland that the stately house stands in. The house itself is a natural history museum, with other museums in the out-buildings...

, now owned by the City of Nottingham
Nottingham is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England. It is located in the ceremonial county of Nottinghamshire and represents one of eight members of the English Core Cities Group...

, houses Willughby and Ray's natural history collection of stuffed animals and birds. The Willughby papers are amongst the Middleton collection held at the Nottingham University Library.
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