Allman | George James | 1812-1898 | botanist and zoologist

Biographical Information

Occupation, Sphere of Activity

George James Allman (1812-1898), an Irish zoologist, was a pioneer in the science of marine zoology. He was educated at the Royal Academical Institution in Belfast, and subsequently at Trinity College, Dublin, from which he graduated in 1844 with a degree in Arts and in Medicine. He had initially intended to study law but reconsidered once at university. From his graduation until 1856, Allman was Professor of Botany at Dublin - where he followed in the steps of his namesake William Allman - before his move across the Irish Sea to become Regius Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh. This post also brought responsibility for the Museum of Science and Art (now the Royal Museum of Scotland). Relations between the museum and the university (which used the museum's collections for teaching) deteriorated considerably for diverse reasons under his stewardship.

His principal publication, A Monograph on the Gymnoblastic or Tubularian Hydroids, was particularly appreciated at the time, partly because it was the best and most systematic work to date on the morphology of hydrozoa, but also because of the precision of the illustrations Allman included. These were particularly useful due to the difficulty of preserving these coelenterata without them losing their shape. His diagrams remained the best available for decades, and were widely reproduced and imitated in other books.

In 1870, Allman resigned his chair at Edinburgh due to poor health, but survived a further 28 years in retirement, in which he furthered his scientific research.



Other Significant Information

Notable publications:

A Monograph of the Fresh-water Polyzoa, Including All the Known Species, Both British and Foreign (1856)

Monograph of the Gymnoblastic or Tubular Hydroids (1871-1872)

Honours, Qualifications and Appointments

1844: Awarded degree in Arts and Medicine, Trinity College, Dublin

1844-1856: Appointed Professor of Botany, Trinity College, Dublin

1854: Elected Fellow of the Royal Society

1856-1870: Appointed Regius Professor of Natural History, University of Edinburgh

1873: Awarded Gold Medal of the Royal Society

1877: Awarded Brisbane Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

1878: Awarded Conningham Gold Medal of the Royal Irish Academy

1879: Elected President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science

1896: Awarded Gold Medal of the Linnean Society


List of sources for the biographical information:

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Allman, George James, (, 1911)

The Royal Society, Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 1900-1901, (London, The Royal Society, 1901)

A Dictionary of Irish Biography, Second Edition, (New York, St Martin's Press, 1988)