Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing

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Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing had "a slight physique" and "a certain whimsical humour". T R R Stebbing 400.jpg
Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing had "a slight physique" and "a certain whimsical humour".

The Reverend Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing FRS, FLS (6 February 1835, London – 8 July 1926, Royal Tunbridge Wells) was a British zoologist, who described himself as "a serf to natural history, principally employed about Crustacea". [2] Educated in London and Oxford, he only took to natural history in his thirties, having worked as a teacher until then. Although an ordained Anglican priest, Stebbing promoted Darwinism in a number of popular works, and was banned from preaching as a result. His scientific works mostly concerned crustaceans, especially the Amphipoda and Isopoda, the most notable being his work on the amphipods of the Challenger expedition.

The Reverend Christian religious title

The Reverend is an honorific style most often placed before the names of Christian clergy and ministers. There are sometimes differences in the way the style is used in different countries and church traditions. The Reverend is correctly called a style but is often and in some dictionaries called a title, form of address or title of respect. The style is also sometimes used by leaders in non-Christian religions such as Judaism and Buddhism.

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

Royal Tunbridge Wells town in Kent, England

Royal Tunbridge Wells, previously just Tunbridge Wells, is a town in western Kent, England, 30 miles (48 km) south-east of central London, close to the border with East Sussex upon the northern edge of the High Weald, whose sandstone geology is exemplified by the rock formations at the Wellington Rocks and High Rocks.



Caricature of Samuel Wilberforce, known as "Soapy Sam", from an 1869 issue of Vanity Fair : Wilberforce ordained Stebbing in 1859, but became a staunch opponent of Darwinism, while Stebbing became a fervent supporter. Carlo Pelligrini-Samuel Wilberforce Not A Brawler.jpg
Caricature of Samuel Wilberforce, known as "Soapy Sam", from an 1869 issue of Vanity Fair : Wilberforce ordained Stebbing in 1859, but became a staunch opponent of Darwinism, while Stebbing became a fervent supporter.

Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing was born on 6 February 1835 in Euston Square, London, the seventh of thirteen [1] [3] or fourteen children, [4] to the clergyman and editor of the Athenaeum , Henry Stebbing, and his wife, Mary Griffin. [2] Thomas was educated at the King's College School, and afterwards entered King's College, London to study classics, [4] graduating with a BA in 1855. [2] He then matriculated at Lincoln College, Oxford, [4] before studied at Worcester College, Oxford, gaining a BA in law and modern history there in 1857 and an MA in 1859. Around this time, he was a master at Radley College and Wellington College. [2] He took on various roles at Worcester College, including that of fellow (1860–1868), tutor (1865–1867), vice-provost (1865) and eventually dean (1866), [2] as well as a lecturer in divinity. [4] He resigned his fellowship in 1868. [4] He was ordained into the Church of England by Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford in 1859. [4]

Henry Stebbing (editor) English cleric and man of letters, died 1883

Henry Stebbing FRS (1799–1883) was an English cleric and man of letters, known as a poet, preacher, and historian. He worked as a literary editor, of books and periodicals.

Kings College School independent school located in Wimbledon in south-west London, England

King's College School, commonly referred to as KCS, King's or KCS Wimbledon, is a selective independent school in Wimbledon, southwest London, England. The school was founded in 1829 as the junior department of King's College London and occupied part of its premises in Strand, prior to relocating to Wimbledon in 1897.

Classics Study of the culture of (mainly) Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity. It encompasses the study of the Greco-Roman world, particularly of its languages and literature but also of Greco-Roman philosophy, history, and archaeology. Traditionally in the West, the study of the Greek and Roman classics was considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities and a fundamental element of a rounded education. The study of classics has therefore traditionally been a cornerstone of a typical elite education.

By 1863, Stebbing had begun to work as a tutor in Reigate, Surrey, where he met the entomologist William Wilson Saunders, whose daughter Mary Anne was a capable botanist and illustrator. [2] Stebbing took up the study of natural history around this time, and married Mary Anne in 1867. [2] The couple moved to Torquay, Devon after their marriage, where Stebbing continued to work as a tutor and schoolmaster, and began to write about theology, Darwinism and natural history, partly under the influence of the naturalist William Pengelly. [2]

Reigate A town in Surrey, England

Reigate is a town of over 20,000 inhabitants in eastern Surrey, England. It is in the London commuter belt and one of three towns in the borough of Reigate and Banstead. It is sited at the foot of the North Downs and extends over part of the Greensand Ridge. Reigate has a medieval castle and has been a market town since the medieval period, when it also became a parliamentary borough.

William Wilson Saunders British entomologist

William Wilson Saunders FRS was a British insurance broker, entomologist and botanist.

Mary Anne Stebbing was a botanist and botanical illustrator. She was the daughter of botanist and entomologist William Wilson Saunders and wife of zoologist Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing. Many of Stebbing's illustrations were destroyed in an 1881 house fire, but some surviving illustrations are held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

In 1873, Stebbing produced his first paper on crustaceans, and began to study the Amphipoda the following year. [2] In 1877, Stebbing moved to Royal Tunbridge Wells, where he lived in Ephraim Lodge, on the edge of Tunbridge Wells Common, to benefit from the greater number of students in London, and to be closer to the libraries, museums and scientific circles in the capital. [4] As his finances improved, he was able to give up teaching altogether and concentrate on writing. [4] He died in Ephraim Lodge on 8 July 1926. [2] His funeral was held at St. Paul's Church, Rusthall, where Stebbing had officiated when requested; since its churchyard was inadequate, Stebbing's body was buried in the town's public cemetery. [3] His wife survived him by only a few months. [1]

Crustacean subphylum of arthropods

Crustaceans form a large, diverse arthropod taxon which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill, woodlice, and barnacles. The crustacean group is usually treated as a subphylum, and because of recent molecular studies it is now well accepted that the crustacean group is paraphyletic, and comprises all animals in the Pancrustacea clade other than hexapods. Some crustaceans are more closely related to insects and other hexapods than they are to certain other crustaceans.

Amphipoda order of crustaceans

Amphipoda is an order of malacostracan crustaceans with no carapace and generally with laterally compressed bodies. Amphipods range in size from 1 to 340 millimetres and are mostly detritivores or scavengers. There are more than 9,900 amphipod species so far described. They are mostly marine animals, but are found in almost all aquatic environments. Some 1,900 species live in fresh water, and the order also includes terrestrial animals and sandhoppers such as Talitrus saltator.

Rusthall village in United Kingdom

Rusthall is a village located approximately 2 miles to the west of the spa town of Tunbridge Wells in Kent. The village grew up around a large property called "Rusthall" located on Rusthall Common.

Evolution and religion

Having trained as an evangelical Anglican, Stebbing expected to be a staunch opponent of Charles Darwin's recently published theory of evolution by natural selection. [4] Stebbing reported that "on reading The Origin of Species , as a preliminary, it has to be confessed that, instead of confuting, I became his ardent disciple", and so he adopted the position of a religious rationalist. [4] Following a critical review of The Descent of Man in The Times in 1871, Stebbing gained prominence by responding in Nature . [3] [1]

Evangelism spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the purpose of conversion or a rapprochement with Christianity

In Christianity, evangelism is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching (ministry) of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Anglicanism The practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England

Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that evolved out of the practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England following the Protestant Reformation.

Charles Darwin British naturalist, author of "On the origin of species, by means of natural selection"

Charles Robert Darwin, was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. In a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace, he introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.

Stebbing wrote a number of essays on the topic of Darwinism, in which he dissected the argument posited against it, and questioned various aspects of Christianity, [4] including the literal truth of the Book of Genesis, the doctrine of the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, many of the Thirty-Nine Articles, miracles and prophecy. [2] They included Essays on Darwinism (1871), Faith in Fetters (1919) and Plain Speaking (1926). [2] His outspoken stance resulted in his being banned from preaching, and he was never offered a parish by the church. [4]

Book of Genesis The first book of the Christian, and Hebrew Bibles

The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament. It is divisible into two parts, the Primeval history and the Ancestral history. The primeval history sets out the author's concepts of the nature of the deity and of humankind's relationship with its maker: God creates a world which is good and fit for mankind, but when man corrupts it with sin God decides to destroy his creation, saving only the righteous Noah to reestablish the relationship between man and God. The Ancestral History tells of the prehistory of Israel, God's chosen people. At God's command Noah's descendant Abraham journeys from his home into the God-given land of Canaan, where he dwells as a sojourner, as does his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Jacob's name is changed to Israel, and through the agency of his son Joseph, the children of Israel descend into Egypt, 70 people in all with their households, and God promises them a future of greatness. Genesis ends with Israel in Egypt, ready for the coming of Moses and the Exodus. The narrative is punctuated by a series of covenants with God, successively narrowing in scope from all mankind to a special relationship with one people alone.

Miracle highly unusual event believed to be of supernatural or divine origin

A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural being, magic, a miracle worker, a saint, or a religious leader.

A prophecy is a message that is claimed by a prophet to have been communicated to them by a god. Such messages typically involve inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of divine will concerning the prophet's social world and events to come. All known ancient cultures had prophets who delivered prophecies.


Pariambus typicus a species in the genus Pariambus , which Stebbing erected in 1888 Pariambus typicus.jpg
Pariambus typicus a species in the genus Pariambus , which Stebbing erected in 1888

Most of Stebbing's scientific works, comprising more than 110 papers, covered amphipod crustaceans. [2] Rev. A. M. Norman, a member of the Challenger Committee, recommended that Stebbing produce a monograph on the amphipods collected on the 1872–1876 expedition by HMS Challenger, which he did, reproducing the original description for every genus, and providing an extensive bibliography of the group. [2]

He also produced a monograph of the Cumacea, a natural history of the Crustacea, and a biography of the Scottish naturalist and founder of the University Marine Biological Station, Millport, David Robertson. [2] In 1906, Stebbing published the volume on Gammaridea for the series Das Tierreich . [4]

Stebbing erected the family Eusiridae in 1888 for amphipods such as Eusirus holmii . Eusirus holmi.jpg
Stebbing erected the family Eusiridae in 1888 for amphipods such as Eusirus holmii .


Stebbing was made a Fellow of the Linnean Society on 5 December 1895, [3] a Fellow of the Royal Society on 4 June 1896, [5] and was awarded the Gold Medal of the Linnean Society in 1908. [2] He had strenuously advocated the admittance of women to the Linnean Society, and obtained a supplementary charter to allow it; his wife was among the first women to be admitted. [3]

A number of animal species have been named in honour of Stebbing: [6]


Further reading

Related Research Articles

Phliantidae is a family of isopod-like amphipod crustaceans chiefly from the southern hemisphere.

Amphiporeia virginiana is a species of amphipod in the family Bathyporeiidae.

<i>Calliopius laeviusculus</i> species of crustacean

Calliopius laeviusculus is a species of amphipod in the family Calliopiidae.

Stygobromus russelli, known generally as the russell stygobromid or Russell's cave amphipod, is a species of amphipod in the family Crangonyctidae. It is found in North America.

Arcitalitrus sylvaticus, known generally as the lawn shrimp or landhopper, is a species of beach hopper in the family Talitridae.

Elthusa californica is a species of isopod in the family Cymothoidae.

Ericthonius rubricornis is a species of amphipod in the family Ischyroceridae.

Americorchestia megalophthalma, the northern big-eyed sandhopper, is a species of beach hopper in the family Talitridae.

Orchestia grillus is a species of beach hopper in the family Talitridae.

Uhlorchestia uhleri is a species of beach hopper in the family Talitridae.

Haustorius canadensis is a species of amphipod in the family Haustoriidae.

Americorchestia longicornis, the common Atlantic sandhopper, is a species of beach hopper in the family Talitridae.

Megalorchestia corniculata is a species of beach hopper in the family Talitridae.

<i>Caprella californica</i> species of crustacean

Caprella californica is a species of amphipod in the family Caprellidae.

Traskorchestia traskiana, the Pacific beach hopper, is a species of beach hopper in the family Talitridae.

Caprella verrucosa is a species of amphipod in the family Caprellidae.

Crangonyx gracilis, the northern lake crangonyctid, is a species of amphipod in the family Crangonyctidae. It is found in North America.

Mexiweckelia hardeni is a species of amphipod in the family Hadziidae.

Gammarus mucronatus is a species of scud in the family Gammaridae.

Bathyporeiidae family of amphipoda

Bathyporeiidae is a family of amphipods in the order Amphipoda. There are two genera in Bathyporeiidae:


  1. 1 2 3 4 W. T. C. (1927). "Obituary Notices of Fellows Deceased". Proceedings of the Royal Society B . 101: i–xxxviii. doi:10.1098/rspb.1927.0027.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Eric L. Mills (September 2004). "Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/38300 . Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 B. D. J. (1926–1927). "Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing". Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London . 139 (1): 101–103. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.1927.tb00076.x.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 "The Stebbing Collection". King's College London . Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  5. "List of Fellows of the Royal Society 1660–2007. K-Z" (PDF). Royal Society . Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  6. Hans G. Hansson. "The Rev. Thomas Roscoe Rede Stebbing". Biographical Etymology of Marine Organism Names. Göteborgs Universitet . Retrieved 10 September 2010.