Henry Alleyne Nicholson (1844-1899)

Henry Alleyne Nicholson (1844-1899)
Henry Alleyne Nicholson. MS 3680/1/1.
Portrait from Arts class photograph:
1892 - 1896

Nicholson was an accomplished biologist and geologist known for his extensive contributions to palaeontology and as the author of widely used textbooks on the subject. He was born in Penrith, Cumberland and attended the University of Göttingen, Germany where he received a PhD in zoology. This degree was followed by others, all from the University of Edinburgh: Bachelor of Science,  Bachelor in Medicine, Master of Surgery, and Doctor of Science, for which he wrote his thesis “On the geology of Cumberland,” winning the university's gold medal.

His career in academia took him to Toronto, Dublin, Durham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and St Andrews until finally he was appointed Regius Professor of Natural History at Aberdeen in 1882, where he remained until his death. To start with he was expected to teach mainly zoology but a change in the curriculum allowed him to devote more time to geology - in particular, palaeontology.

Educational drawings, HA Nicholson. Lepidoptera
Pieris brass.II
Educational drawings, HA Nicholson. Trichodectes Latus.

In the classroom Nicholson was described as 'deeply interesting, lucid and attractive'. His lectures were often illustrated with large drawings from his own hand, many of which remain in the collections.

Halysites catenulata. ABDUG Pal.7394

The Geology Collection contains over 500 type and figured specimens, including corals and bryozoans collected by Nicholson.

For more information on the University museum and archival collections please search the online catalogue