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There are many eminent people on the Presidents pages. They are but the headline acts in what has been a signifiant body of eminent men and women who have served the society in many ways. As an additional index we are now able to provide a partial list of the officers of the sections The Society Sections

Here on this page we provide some details of some other people who served the society and who's pictures and service have been recorded and it only seems correct to recognise that and share the information

James Bell Go Back

James Bell

From the transactions

In Memoria - James Bell,

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

By C. T. Vachell, M.D.

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."

John Stuart Corbett Go Back

John Stuart Corbett


By John Ballinger, C.B.E.

Mr. Corbett was a fine example of those quiet men of marked ability and charm, who pass through life doing such work as falls to their lot with rare efficiency, and occupy themselves with pursuits which increase the sum of knowledge or add to the happiness and well-being of their generation. Like many men of that type his life was uneventful. He never thought that he, as an individual, was of any special importance, his personality never reached the public eye, his contributions to knowledge were made almost in silence, only the very few who came into close relations with him knew what a great mind and generous nature lay behind that shyness which characterised him.

It was my privilege to be admitted to the inner circle soon after he became solicitor to the Bute Estate (1890), in succession to his brother, Mr. James Andrew Corbett, whose untimely death deprived Cardiff of one of its devoted citizens. The two brothers were very much alike in many ways, for James Andrew Corbett also took a keen interest in local history and archaeology, was never satisfied with a mere acceptance of printed or any other source for any statement, but searched out and verified always, and, what is equally important, reconsidered conclusions when fresh evidence became available. It was this scholarly care which makes the edition of Rice Merrick's Booke of Glamorganshire's Antiquities (written in 1578), printed in 1887 with an introduction and notes by him, so valuable as a contribution to local history.

During the three years which followed the issue of the book Mr. James Corbett accumulated much additional material on the work itself, and subjects pertinent thereto. These, on his death, passed to his brother, and opened for him a line of study which he pursued to the end of his life. The results are, to some extent at least, represented in this memorial volume.

The Corbetts are an ancient family, settled in Shropshire from the time of the Norman conquest. The story of this ancient family, with much genealogical detail, has recently been published.*

John Stuart Corbett of Cogan Pill was direct in descent from the Corbetts of Moreton Corbett, his grandfather, Captain Andrew Corbett, being 6th in descent from Sir Andrew Corbett, knight, of Moreton Corbett, who died in 1578. Captain Andrew Corbett married Augusta, sister of the first Marquess of Bute, and their only child was Stuart Corbett, Incumbent of Wortley and Archdeacon of York his fourth son was John Stuart Corbett, who came to Cardiff in 1841 as agent to his relative, the 2nd Marquess of Bute. He lived first in rooms at Rhyd-y- Penna Farm, near Llanishen, and on his marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of James Evans, of the Gorther Co., Radnor, he removed to Maindee (a house near Cardiff, now included in the City boundaries), and later to Cogan Pill when the repairs and alterations to that old house had been completed. It was at Maindee that the eldest son, John Stuart Corbett, was born on 16th May, 1845. He was educated at Cheltenham, and was afterwards articled to Messrs. Daltons and Spencer, of Cardiff, and Messrs. Vizard, Crowder, Anstie and Young, of London, being awarded honours at his final examination in 1867, and admitted a solicitor in the same year.

He joined Messrs. Daltons and Spencer as a junior partner, the firm being known as Daltons, Spencer and Corbett for some years, afterwards as Spencer and Corbett. The senior partner was Mr. Thomas Dalton, sometime Clerk of the Peace for the County of Glamorgan, and later his nephew, Mr. Thomas Masters Dalton. Mr. Corbett retired from the firm in 1890 when he became Solicitor to Lord Bute.

He married in 1872 Blanche, the elder daughter of the Reverend James Williams Evans, Vicar of Costessy, near Norwich, who was the son of the Reverend James Evans, formerly Rector of Llandough, Cogan, and other parishes near Cardiff, the incumbent of which was known locally as The Angel of the Seven Churches." Before he became Solicitor to Lord Bute, Mr. Corbett held the appointment of Clerk to the Llandaff bench of magistrates, and devoted his leisure to art, painting chiefly in oils, for which he had a gift, and exhibited from time to time at Norwich and in the annual exhibitions of the South Wales Art Society. In later years he did much work in water colour.

His chief holiday occupation was painting in Norfolk and Wales. These were the happiest times of his life. Reading was a delight to him always. He was devoted to out-door pursuits, gardening especially. He loved his garden, and knew every plant in it, most of them placed there by his own hands. He was fond of shooting, and was an excellent shot, but fishing did not attract him.

For the years 1890 to 1917, when he retired, he was Solicitor for Lord Bute and his great properties, a period covering the last ten years of the life of the third Marquess and seventeen years after the accession of the present Lord Bute, twenty-seven years of loyal and unselfish service.

It has already been said that Mr. Corbett's interest in archaeology and local history was increased when he took up the work left by his brother. Before that time he appears to have appeared in print once only, a note of five pages on The Fresh Water Aquarium in the Transactions of the Cardiff Naturalists' Society for 1883. No other printed work of his has been traced earlier than the same society's volume for 1900-1, which contains his address as president of the Archae- ological section of the Society. He had, however, taken a keen advisory interest in the preparation of the Cardiff Records. The first volume, which appeared in 1898, contains a valuable local record, the Bailiffs' accounts for Cardiff and Roath, 1642-3, from the Cardiff Castle muniments, for which the editor, Mr. J. Hobson Matthews, expresses his indebtedness to Mr. Corbett.

The succeeding volumes contain numerous evidences showing the help given, and contributions actually written by him. The index gives twenty-eight references under Mr. Corbett's name, but six of them should have been under his father's name. A list of his printed contributions so far as can be ascertained is given in this volume. They deal with several aspects of one subject, the lordship of Glamorgan, of which his knowledge was unrivalled. These contributions show how worthily he carried on the work of his brother and Mr. George Thomas Clark of Talygarn.

The quantity of Mr. Corbett's literary work is not large, but it is all sound and good. If it were possible to set out, even in part, the help he gave to other workers in the same field, the extent of his labours would be more adequately seen. But this is impossible. The amount of time and labour he would cheerfully expend on an inquiry made one reluctant to trespass on his invariable willingness to help. An example of this is the following letter written to me in April, 1919

14th April, 1919.

I am much obliged to you for your letter in reply to mine. I have no doubt now (though I should like to see the document from which the seal came) that the old Cardiff seal was taken from that of Richard (probably, or possibly Gilbert his son) de Clare.

I think a similar origin was that of the fabled arms of Jestyn ap Gwrgan described by Rhys Myryke.

The de Clare chevrons are found on a seal of c. 1138, of a member of that family, one of the earliest instances of arms on a seal, while the descendants of Jestyn, Lords of Avan, sealed with quite different devices (not arms) down to at least the middle of the 13th century. Leisan de Aven, the first to use that surname, who became Lord in 1288, seems to have used the chevrons (Parl. Roll of Edw. II). This was with a difference, gules 3 chevrons argent, instead of or 3 chevrons gules. These arms are still used by families claiming descent from the Avan Lords and ultimately from Jestyn, and this, I think, is why later writers attribute them to him.

This letter contains valuable information relating to the arms formerly used by the civic authorities of Cardiff. It was a subject of deep regret to Mr. Corbett that the Corporation abandoned the historic shield associated with the town for so many centuries, in favour of the florid arms recently adopted, which defy nearly all the usages of heraldry. He once expressed to me a hope that some day the old dignified and historic arms will be brought into use again.

Mr. Corbett died on 9th March, 1921. Of him it may truly be said:-

He had the wisdom of the just, and the gentle loving heart of a little child.

* The Family of Corbett, its life and times, by A. E. C. 2 volumes. London. The St. Catherine Press, 1915-1919.

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

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