William Arnold Bromfield

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Dr William Arnold Bromfield F.L.S (1801-1851)



Author 'Flora Hantoniensis' serialised in the journal The Phytologist and 'Flora Vectensis' (1856) Eds WJ Hooker, T Bell Salter. After qualifying as an MD in Glasgow Bromfield travelled widely in Europe, having been left independently wealthy by the early death of his father. He and his sister lived in turn at Hastings, Bristol and Southampton, moving to George St, Ryde, on the Isle of Wight in 1836. Bromfield soon decided to produce a Flora and organised a network of botanical correspondents around the Island. His frequent travels abroad, including a year in the USA, led to concerns that the Flora would remain unpublished and he was prevailed upon to serialise the records in The Phytologist under the title 'Flora Hantoniensis'. In 1850 he left the Island for an extended tour of the middle-east and died from cholera in Damascus in the following year. The last Bromfield records from Wight appear to date from no later than 1849. The 'Flora Vectensis' has an editor's preface noted 'Kew and Ryde 1856'. The editors were Sir William Jackson Hooker and Thomas Bell Salter, who gathered Bromfield's material together for the press. Records made in the meanwhile were incorporated within square brackets in the text and date from 1850 to 1856. Bromfield was an extremely careful observer who made large collections of specimens. His minute descriptions of individual species from his wide-ranging collections form a large portion of the published Flora Vectensis. He was generally averse to the separation of new species and a 'lumper' by inclination, though his records include many 'alpha' and 'beta' variants which are today recognised at species level. His two major herbaria are held at KEW and Winchester ([1]). Specimens were added to the latter by AG More (Alexander Goodman More 1830-1895) before he left the Island, in 1867.

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