Members at our 2007 BBQ

Naturalists' Society

Cymdeithas Naturiaethwr



Pictures from our Archive

Back to the 150th Anniversary index

See our Full list of Presidents

James Bell Go Back

James Bell

From the transactions


Born February 13th, 1839. Died Apri llth, 1903 .


By the death of Mr. James Bell the list of original members of the Society is reduced to three, having stood at 26 at the foundation of the Society in 1867 - the Veterans remaining with us being Dr. William Taylor, Dr. Bush, and Robert Drane, F.L.S.

It is true that our Annals do not record great deeds done for the Society by Mr. Bell, nevertheless his worth was recognised by the Committee, and on two separate occasions he was urged to accept the Presidency.

He was however of a singularly reserved and retiring character, and he could not be persuaded to take a front place. He acted on the Committee for 36 years, and until his removal to Barry regularly attended meetings. He was a consistent supporter of the aims and objects of the Society, and whenever his professional knowledge could be brought to hear he was keen to do his part - thus for instance he took a leading part in mapping out for the last edition of the Ordnance Survey Maps those fragments of Ancient Monuments, &c., which had not previously been noted.

Mr. Bell was born in 1839 at Canonbie, Dumfriesshire, and came to reside in Cardiff in 1866, practising as a Civil Engineer. In 1893 he was appointed Resident Engineer to the Barry Railway Co., and this appointment he retained until his death.

One of his more important works was the restoration of the Porthkerry Viaduct in 1900, after its unfortunate failure in 1897. His genial disposition won for him many friends, but this domestic life was unfortunately saddened by repeated and heart-breaking bereavements.

F W Wooton Go Back

F W Wooton

From his obituary: -

Died December 4th, 1899. It is with great regret that we have to record the death of one of our members whose unassuming work has contributed very considerably towards helping our Society to maintain its position as a scientific institution.

Mr. F. W. Wotton, who was born in Bristol in 1847, resided in Cardiff from 1868 to 1891, and died at Bournemouth on December 4th, 1899, signs of phthisis having become apparent some two and a half years previously.

Modest and unassuming, Mr. Wotton pursued his work quietly and steadily, taking more pleasure in his studies for their own sake than for any display in public; so that comparatively few of our members knew him or were aware of the value of his observations, many of which were communicated to the Biological and Geological Section. He possessed the instincts of the true Naturalist, and had his opportunities been greater and his health not broken down, his work would have been such as to make him recognised amongst Zoologists as an important authority on the branch of science in which he was chiefly interested.

Besides several contributions to the "Journal of Conchology" including a list of the land and fresh-water shells of Cardiff (188ti) and a paper in ""Science Gossip" on Isocardia cor (specimens of which were obtained for him by Mr. Neale) he contributed the sections on the fresh-water, terrestrial, and marine mollusca to the British Association Handbook for Cardiff (1891), as well as various papers - a list of which is given below - to our transactions.

In his molluscan work he was not a mere Conchologist, but carefully observed the habits and mode of life of living forms when possible: thus for a long time he kept some slugs under close observation with very interesting results. In addition to the mollusca, Mr. Wotton took a great interest in other groups of animals, more especially bees and beetles; and in collaboration with Mr. J. R. Brocklin Tomlin (to whom the writer is indebted for several of the above details) wrote the section on Entomology for the British Association Handbook, 1891, and the results of his entomological work have been of much use to Mr. Tomlin in compiling a catalogue of the Glamorgan Coleoptera.

The woods at Castell Coch were his chief hunting-grounds, and here he discovered a pair of Pyrochroa coccinea, which had not previously been recorded in the neighbourhood. Mr. Wotton accumulated a useful collection of molluscan shells, which at his death was acquired by the Cardiff Museum. The photograph reproduced in this notice was taken many years ago, and we are indebted to Mrs. Wotton for the loan of it.

The following sketch is from the pen of Mr. John Storrie

" My first introduction to Mr. Wotton was in about 1878, when he got into conversation with me at the old Museum in St. Mary Street about Bell-Animalcules which he and a friend, Mr. Jenkins, had found in a reen near Splottlands Moors. I had just previously found Sientor near the same place, and I asked him to come and see it under the microscope, showing it to him illuminated under a spot-lens : our acquaintance then became very intimate, and remained so as long as he lived at Cardiff.

At that time Mr. Wotton and a partner had a business in Mill Lane as French polishers and furniture repairers, but subsequently he took a place by himself in Working Street, where he did not remain long, as some work he had done for the Castle led to his being employed there for a number of years. Having now a good deal of time on his hands, he studied various branches of Natural History. I was at that time making a collection of land and fresh-water mollusca, and he took up Conchology with great enthusiasm, competing for and winning a prize offered by the Museum Committee. For several years we made a weekly excursion together, I paying more attention to the flora and he to the mollusca.

As the Marquess of Bute's children grew up they frequently came to the little room in the White Tower, where his workshop was, and as they became interested in the specimens lying about, he gradually drifted into being the adviser of the Lady Margaret on Natural History subjects.

His health then failing him, he gave up a newsagency and post-office at Adamsdown which his wife and cousin had conducted for some years, and was wholly employed in making a collection of various objects of interest which Lady Margaret and the younger children were getting together, and which has now assumed large proportions. In this capacity he travelled about with the family, and was thus brought into contact with the best books on various subjects; his enthusiasm in learning soon made him of great value, and resulted in his being much liked by the family and highly respected by those of his fellow-employes who knew him best.

Mr. Wotton was an eager collector, and got together large collections by sending our local specimens to other countries in exchange for foreign ones. For the last eighteen years he was subject to chronic asthma, and often suffered from great weakness. But in spite of many serious attacks he still remained very regular in his habits, and thus his life was prolonged many years after hope seemed to be gone.

List of Mr. Wotton's Papers in the Transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society.

  1. Vol. XX., Part I., 1888. "The Land and Fresh-water Shells of Cardiff."
  2. Vol. XX., Part II., 1888. "Note on Kent's Cavern."
  3. Vol. XXII., Part II., 1890. " A Short Historical Account of the Flat Holme and its Natural History."
  4. Vol. XXIV., Part II., 1891-2. " The Life History of Arion ater."
  5. Vol. XXVIII., Part II., 1895-6. Appendix on the Flora and Fauna to F. T. Howard's paper " On the Geology of Barry Dock."

Others .. Here are some people who are in our achives, but as yet their roles not known

John Stuart Corbett Go Back

John Stuart Corbett

Others .. Here are some more people who are in our achives, but as yet their names are not known. we would love to hear from anyone who does know who they are, please contact us via our contacts page

Unknown Person in CNS Archives Go Back

Unknown Person in CNS Archives

Back to the 150th Anniversary index