George Bowdler Buckton

George Bowdler Buckton

George Bowdler Buckton FRS was born in Pentonville, London on 24th May 1818.

He was the eldest son of George Buckton, of Oakfield, Hornsey, Middlesex, who was a Proctor in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. George Bowdler was privately educated after an accident in boyhood left him crippled for life and therefore unable to enter public school.

On the death of his father in 1847, he moved to Gloucester Place, Hyde Park, and the year after, entered the Royal College of Chemistry. He remained there for the next seven years, where he became research assistant to Professor, Dr A W Hoffman, with whom he published several important papers on methyl mercuric compounds. He had previously had three papers of his own read before the Royal Society. He had another four papers read between the years of 1857 and 1861. He was also a member of the General Committee of the British Association and read papers at Cambridge and Aberdeen.

In 1865 he published a chemical paper in conjunction with his friend Professor William Odling. This was his last paper on Chemicals. The same year he married the professors’ sister, Mary Ann. They were the only children of Dr George Odling of Southwark,

After their marriage, George and Mary Ann moved to Haslemere in Surrey where George purchased the Weycombe estate and designed Weycombe House. a stone gabled house to be built with an adjacent astronomical observatory. George renewed his childhood interest in Entomology and published his most important papers on this subject. He corresponded with Charles Darwin during this period, and was a neighbour of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who lived nearby at Aldworth

George Bowdler Buckton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1852 and served two periods on its council. He was also a member of the Linnean and Entomological Societies. He continued his chemical studies at Weycombe, in his own laboratory, and gave elementary lectures to the young people of the district.

He was interested in astronomy, electricity and photography. He built a Wimshurst machine and several telescopes, grinding and mounting his own reflectors.

In 1882 he suffered another accident when he fell and broke his leg while attempting to close the shutters on his astrological observatory. He was a manager of the National Schools, a good musician and a keen artist. He continued to paint until just before his death, of a chill, on 25th September 1905. He left a widow, one son and five daughters.

George Bowdler Buckton was a Fellow of the Linnean Society, the Chemical Society, the Royal Society and the Entomological Society. He was also a member of the Entomological Society of France and a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia.

George Bowdler Buckton was probably named after his Uncle by Marriage, Charles Bowdler. Charles Bowdler was a Proctor at Doctors Commons and a nephew of Thomas Bowdler MD, the gentleman who gave the World the expression to Bowdlerise. Meaning to censor or omit. This came about after Thomas Bowdler published The Family Shakespeare, in 1818. A version of Shakespeares’ works, deemed to be more appropriate for women and children. He also edited Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in a similar manner.

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