William Thompson (1805 - 1852):
William Thompson was born in Belfast and was expected to manage the family linen business, but became instead a full-time naturalist. He had joined the Belfast Natural History Society when he was twenty-one and his first paper was 'On the Birds of the Copeland Islands'. He published many of his observations between 1827 and 1852, and eighty of his scientific papers on Irish Natural History appeared in journals such as the Magazine of Zoology and Botany and Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. Between 1840 and 1843 he produced reports for the British Association for the Advancement of Science. His papers were collected in three volumes entitled The Natural History of Ireland (the fourth volume was published posthumously), and these books remain an indispensable reference work on Irish zoology of the early nineteenth century. He added about a thousand species to Irish fauna lists and discovered a number of species new to science. He was the first to describe the breeding places of rare birds on the Donegal coast. He was President of the Natural History Section when the British Association met in Cork in 1843, and was President of the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society from 1843 to 1852.
||2 November 1805
||17 February 1852