Francis Trevelyan Buckland bigraphy, stories - English naturalist

Francis Trevelyan Buckland : biography

17 December 1826 - 19 December 1880

Francis Trevelyan Buckland (17 December 1826 – 19 December 1880), known as Frank Buckland, was an English surgeon, zoologist, popular author and natural historian.


He was the son of William Buckland, the noted geologist and palaeontologist and Mary Buckland, a fossil collector, fossil geologist and illustrator.

Frank Buckland was born and brought up in Oxford, where his father was a Canon of Christ Church. After education by his mother, he went, at eight and a half, to a boarding school in Cotterstock, Northamptonshire. From 1837–39, he went to a preparatory school in Laleham, near Chertsey. This was run by his uncle, John Buckland, who, unfortunately for Frank, was a brutal master who flogged his pupils quite excessively.This, left out of the Victorian biography, was dug up from Wm. Buckland's letters by Burgess G.H.O. 1967. The curious world of Frank Buckland. Baker, London. p 16–17. Relief came with a scholarship to Winchester College, a school with an unbroken history of six hundred years. Here Frank Buckland was taught by the Second Master, Charles Wordsworth, who sent letters of praise to Frank's father. Winchester had a harsh regime, but was much preferable to his previous school. Frank was not a first-rate scholar, but managed to gain entrance to Christ Church, Oxford, after failing to get a scholarship to the smaller Corpus Christi.

Frank studied at Christ Church from 1844–48, obtaining the BA at the second attempt. At once he travelled to London to begin training in surgery. His father had the advice of Richard Owen and Sir Benjamin Brodie. Brodie personally escorted Frank to St George's Hospital and enrolled him as a student under Mr. Caesar Hawkins FRS, Surgeon to the hospital.

Buckland had a liaison with a woman of humble birth, Hannah Papps, who bore him a son in 1851. They married in 1863, but the son died early.

Buckland's early death was presaged by lung haemorrhages, which might suggest tuberculosis or perhaps lung cancer. His death certificate is, as so often in those days, unhelpful. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.


He studied surgery at St George's Hospital. A visit to Paris in 1849 gave him a chance of comparing their methods with those in London. In London most of the nurses were illiterate; one who claimed to read was tested with a label reading "This lotion to be applied externally only". The nurse interpreted it as "Two spoonfuls to be taken four times a day".Burgess G.H.O. 1967. The curious world of Frank Buckland. Baker, London.p48

Buckland made MRCS in 1851. He was appointed Assistant Surgeon (= house-surgeon) at St George's, 1852. A vivid word-portrait was written by a surgical colleague, Charles Lloyd:

The Life Guards

Frank was elected to the Athenaeum Club in February 1854, and later that year was gazetted as Assistant Surgeon to the Second Life Guards. This appointment that left him plenty of time for his growing interest in natural history, since the Household Cavalry were not deployed abroad from the Battle of Waterloo (1815) until the Battle of Tel-el-Kabir in 1882. Buckland held the appointment until 1863.

Natural history and zoöphagy

Buckland gradually gave up surgery, and increasingly devoted himself to natural history. He made a good income as a writer for The Field and other periodicals and from the sale of popular books. He was much in demand as a lecturer and speaker.

Buckland was a pioneer of zoöphagy: his favourite research was eating the animal kingdom. This habit he learnt from his father, whose residence, the Deanery, offered such rare delights as mice in batter, squirrel pie, horse's tongue and ostrich. After the 'Eland Dinner' in 1859 at the London Tavern, organised by Richard Owen, Buckland set up the Acclimatization Society to further the search for new food. In 1862 100 guests at Willis' Rooms sampled Japanese Sea slug (= sea cucumber, probably), kangaroo, guan, curassow and Honduras turkey. This was really quite a modest menu, though Buckland had his eye on capybara for the future. Buckland's home, 37 Albany Sreet, London, was famous for its menagerie and its varied menus,Barber, Lynn 1980. The heyday of natural history 1820–1870. Cape, London. Chapter 10: The pioneer of zoophagy. including, at times, boiled elephant trunk, rhinoceros pie, porpoise heads, and stewed mole.Kacirk, Jeffrey 1999. Forgotten English. Harper, New York

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine