Richard Henry Yapp

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Richard Henry Yapp
Richard Henry Yapp.jpg
Born8 October 1871  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Died22 January 1929  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg (aged 57)
Alma mater
Occupation Botanist, academic  OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Richard Henry Yapp (1871–1929) was an English botanist and an early ecologist, who held the Chair of Botany in Queen's University, Belfast, and the Mason Professorship of Botany at the University of Birmingham.


Early life

Yapp was born on 8 October 1871 at Orleton, Herefordshire, England, the son of Jane (née Gammidge) and Richard Keysall Yapp, a landowner and farmer. [1] [2] After attending a private school at Leominster he was educated at Hereford's County School [lower-alpha 1] , but his education ended when he was 15 due to the death of his father. [1] Although working, his thirst for knowledge led him to attend a variety of classes, including some at University College, Nottingham, and in 1895 he was awarded a scholarship and entered St John's College, Cambridge. [1] He studied botany under Harry Marshall Ward, Albert Seward and Frederick Blackman, graduating with First Class Honours. [1] He was awarded the Frank Smart Studentship by Gonville and Caius College, to which he transferred in June 1899. [1] [2] He was captain of the university's lacrosse team for the year 1898–1899. [3]


Yapp was appointed botanist to Cambridge University's 1899–1900 expedition to the North-Eastern Malay States, led by Walter William Skeat. [lower-alpha 2] [1] [4] Specimens he collected on the expedition went to the Cambridge University Herbarium, with some in the National Collection at Kew. [4] The expedition also resulted in his paper, "Two Malayan Myrmecophilous Ferns". [5]

On his return to Cambridge, he was curator of the university's herbarium from 1900 to 1903, [2] and took up the study of the local fens, publishing a paper on Wicken Fen. [1] [6] He was appointed Professor of Botany at Aberystwyth University in 1904, adding to the university's museum collection specimens he collected in South Africa in 1905. [1] While in Wales he studied the ecology of the Dovey Estuary. [1] [7] [8]

He served on the central committee of the Study and Survey of British Vegetation, later renamed the British Vegetation Committee. This group evolved, in 1913, into the British Ecological Society, [1] the first such society in the world. [9]

In 1914 he became Chair of Botany at Queen's University, Belfast. He was also assistant to Sir Arthur Yapp, his older brother, in the Ministry of Food during World War I. [1] [3]

Yapp was appointed as the University of Birmingham's Mason Professor of Botany in 1919, succeeding George Stephen West and overseeing the department's move from the city centre to the new campus at Edgbaston, with laboratories arranged to his design. [1]

For the year 1920–1921, he was President of the British Ecological Society. [1] [2] His 1923 textbook, "Botany: A Junior Book For Schools" was published in eighteen editions, the latest in 2013. [10] An adapted edition was also produced for Australian schools, in 1934. [11]

Illness and death

By the time the new laboratories at Edgbaston were opened, in October 1927, Yapp was showing signs of ill health, and was soon unable to attend conferences. Nonetheless, in 1928 he was appointed President of the Botanical Section of the British Association. [1]

He died in Birmingham on 22 January 1929, aged 57. [12] Obituaries, noting the unfinished work which he had planned, were published in The Times , [3] Nature [12] and the Journal of Ecology . [1]

He was survived by his wife, Sofia Karolina (née Klintberg; 1886–1941) a Swedish woman whom he married in 1913, and a son and a daughter. [2] [3]


  1. Venn refers to this as "Hereford County College".
  2. Yapp is wrongly named in the introduction, as "Robert Henry Yapp".

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 F. E. Weiss (1929). "Obituary Notice: Richard Henry Yapp, 1871–1929". Journal of Ecology . 17 (2): 405–408. ISSN   0022-0477. JSTOR   2256052. Wikidata   Q101607488.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Cambridge Alumni Database, University of Cambridge, Wikidata   Q42844190
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Professor Yapp". The Times : 21. 25 January 1929. ISSN   0140-0460. Wikidata   Q101674451.
  4. 1 2 C. A. Gibson-Hill; W. W. Skeat; F. F. Laidlaw (1953). "The Cambridge University Expedition to the North-Eastern Malay States, and to Upper Perak, 1899–1900". Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 26 (164): 1–174. ISSN   2304-7550. JSTOR   24249142. Wikidata   Q90271161.
  5. Richard Henry Yapp (1902). "Two Malayan 'Myrmecophilous' Ferns, Polypodium (Lecanopteris) carnosum (Blume), and Polypodium sinuosum, Wall". Annals of Botany . 16 (62): 185–231. ISSN   0305-7364. JSTOR   43235173. Wikidata   Q101624286.
  6. Richard Henry Yapp (1908). "Sketches of Vegetation at Home and Abroad IV. Wicken Fen". New Phytologist . 7 (2/3): 61–81. ISSN   0028-646X. JSTOR   2427007. Wikidata   Q101626317.
  7. Richard Henry Yapp; D. Johns; O. T. Jones (1916). "The Salt Marshes of the Dovey Estuary" (PDF). Journal of Ecology . 4 (1): 27–42. doi:10.2307/2255448. ISSN   0022-0477. JSTOR   2255448. Wikidata   Q101668938.
  8. Richard Henry Yapp; D. Johns; O. T. Jones (1917). "The Salt Marshes of the Dovey Estuary" (PDF). Journal of Ecology . 5 (2): 65–103. doi:10.2307/2255644. ISSN   0022-0477. JSTOR   2255644. Wikidata   Q101668944.
  9. Hazel Norman (2013). British Ecological Society. ISBN   978-0-470-05733-9. Wikidata   Q101660703.
  10. Richard Henry Yapp (August 2013). Botany: A Junior Book For Schools (18th ed.). ISBN   978-1-107-61954-8. OL   29160937M. Wikidata   Q101651244.
  11. Richard Henry Yapp; Dorothy Jean Ross (1934), Botany ... Edited for Australian students by Miss D. J. Ross., OCLC   504068682, Wikidata   Q101653423
  12. 1 2 "Prof. R. H. Yapp". Nature . 123 (3094): 249–250. February 1929. doi:10.1038/123249A0. ISSN   1476-4687. Wikidata   Q60078409.