Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Broderip, William John

BRODERIP, WILLIAM JOHN (1789–1859), lawyer and naturalist, the eldest son of William Broderip, surgeon, Bristol, was born at Bristol on 21 Nov. 1789, and, after being educated at the Rev. Samuel Seyer's school in his native city, matriculated at Oriel College, Oxford, and graduated B.A. 1812. Whilst at college he found time to attend the anatomical lectures of Sir Christopher Pegge, and the chemical and mineralogical lectures of Dr. John Kidd. After completing his university education, he entered the Inner Temple, and commenced studying in the chambers of the well-known Godfrey Sykes, where he had as contemporaries Sir John Patteson and Sir John Taylor Coleridge. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn on 12 May 1817, when he joined the western circuit, and shortly after, in conjunction with Peregrine Bingham, began reporting the court of common pleas. These reports were published in three volumes in 1820-22, In 1822 he accepted from Lord Sidmouth the appointment of magistrate at the Thames police court. He held this office until 1846, when he was transferred to the Westminster court, where he remained for ten years. He was compelled to resign from deafness, having obtained a high reputation for his good sense and humanity. In 1824 be edited the fourth edition of R. Callis upon the Statute of Sewers. This work, which combined antiquarian with strict legal learning, was one exactly suited to the taste and talent of the editor. He was elected bencher of Gray's Inn 30 Jan. 1850, and treasurer 29 Jan. 1851, and to him was confided the especial charge of the library of that institution.

Broderip throughout his life was an enthusiastic collector of natural objects. His conchological cabinet was unrivalled, and many foreign professors inspected the treasures which were accumulated in his chambers in Gray's Inn. This collection was ultimately purchased by the British Museum. He was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1824, of the Geological Society in 182S, and of the Royal Society on 14 Feb. 1828. In co-operation with Sir Stamford Raffles he aided, in 1820, in the formation of the Zoological Society, of which he was one of the original fellows. He was secretary of the Geological Society for some time, and performed the arduous duties of that office with Roderick Murchison until 1830. To the 'Transactions' of this society he contributed numerous papers, but the chief part of his original writings on malacology are to be found in the 'Proceedings and Transactions of the Zoological Society.' Few naturalists have more graphically described the habits of animals. Broderip's 'Account of the Manners of a Tame Beaver,' published in the 'Gardens and Menagerie of the Zoological Society,' affords a favourable example of his tact as an observer and power as it writer. His contributions to the 'New Monthly Magazine' and to 'Fraser's Magazine' were collected in the volumes entitled 'Zoological Recreations,' 1847, and 'Leaves from the Note-book of a Naturalist,' 1852. He wrote the zoological articles in the 'Penny Cyclopædia,' viz. from Ast to the end, including the whole of the articles relating to mammnls, birds, reptiles, Crustacea, mollusca, conchifera, cirrigrada, pulmagrada, &c.; Buffon, Brisson, &c, and zoology. His last publication, 'On the Shark,' appeared in 'Fraser's Magazine,' March 1859. He died in his chambers, 2 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn, London, from an attack of serous apoplexy, on 27 Feb. 1859.

His writings not previously mentioned were:

  1. 'Guide to the Gardens of the Zoological Society. By Nicholas A. Vigors and W. J. Broderip,' 1829.
  2. 'Hints for collecting Animals and their Products,' 1832.
  3. 'Memoir of the Dodo. By R. Owen, F.R.S., with an Historical Introduction by W. J. Broderip,' 1861, beaides very numerous articles in magazines, newspapers, and reviews.

[Law Magazine and Law Review (1860), viii. l74-8; Proceedings of Linnean Society of London, 1859, pp.xx-xxv; Illustrated London News, (1846) ix. 317,(1856) xxviii. 253, portrait; Berger's W. J. Broderip, ancien magistrat, naturaliste, littérateur, Paris, 1856.]

G. C. B.