Philip Henry Gosse

Philip Henry Gosse, naturalist, religious writer (b at Worcester, Eng 6 Apr 1810; d at St Mary Church, near Torquay, Eng 23 Aug 1888).

Gosse, Philip Henry

Philip Henry Gosse, naturalist, religious writer (b at Worcester, Eng 6 Apr 1810; d at St Mary Church, near Torquay, Eng 23 Aug 1888). The foremost popularizer of natural history in mid-Victorian England and leader of a Brethren community in Devonshire, he made his decision to devote his life to the study of nature and the practice of evangelical Christianity during years spent in Canada. Gosse left Poole, England, in 1827 to work for 8 years as a clerk in a merchant's countinghouse at Carbonear, Newfoundland. Then in 1835 he attempted to farm just North of Compton in Lower Canada. The experiment proved a failure and he left Canada in 1838.

Although Gosse's sojourn did not influence significantly his achievements, he has a place in the history of Canadian science. He was the first person to investigate systematically and record the entomology of Newfoundland. The Canadian Naturalist (1840; reprinted 1971) was Gosse's popular book on the flora and fauna of the Eastern Townships. Characteristically accurate and original in its ecological descriptions, though weak in taxonomy, the work provided first lessons for later generations of Canadian naturalists.