Tag Archives: Kathleen Scott

Edward Wilson was a great ornithologist

5 Apr

David Saunders has written in the March 2012 edition  of ‘ Birdwatching’ to draw attention to Edward Wilson’s legacy in relation to ornithology. He points out that an enthusiasm for natural history was ‘in Wilson’s blood’, his grandfather and great uncle were  keen naturalists and benefactors of the Pittsburg Museum. They advanced, Saunders says, the study of natural sciences in the United States.

Wilson kept a diary from the age of 17 on his natural history observations: cloud formation, birds, rain etc, of no obvious interest to anyone but himself, but although his bent was in natural history, he trained to be a doctor. He went on the ‘Discovery’ expedition as junior doctor and zoologist and made a  huge collection of drawings and paintings of the flora and fauna and topography of Antarctica.

His work on the Grouse Commission is not well known. The sport brought £1,000,000 annually to the Scottish economy, so the death of thousands of red grouse was a serious worry. Wilson worked on the problem for four years travelling endlessly and dissected almost 2,000 grouse. He definitively found the cause and suggested remedies. He did not live to see the published report, a large tome, most of the illustrations were done by him.

He illustrated ‘British Mammals’ with 27 colour plates, 54 black and white and 250 small illustrations.

His legacy to the ornithological world is large and should be remembered. He was Scott’s friend and confident and interested Scott in natural sciences. Scott’s last words to Kathleen his wife, was to ask her to make their son interested in natural sciences. Peter Scott fulfilled this hope magnificently.


The wives of the dead heroes

14 Mar

A blogger has written to ask about the ongoing lives of the wives of the men who died with Scott.

This is an interesting question. Three of Scott’s party were married: Scott himself, Edward Wilson and Edgar Evans.

When the news reached England, pensions were awarded to the widows. The amounts were determined on the ranks of their husbands. Kathleen Scott received an Admiralty Pension of £200 p.a.a gratuity of £693 and £36 back pay. She was given a Government Pension of £200 p.a. and £850 from the Mansion House Trust Fund (M.H.T.F.), her husbands British Antarctic Expedition  (B.A.E.) salary, plus income from books and articles. She was a wealthy woman.

Oriana Wilson received £300 from Government Pensions, £850 from the M.H.T.F and Wilson’s B.A.E salary of £636

Lois Evans and her three children had an Admiralty Pension of 7s 6p a week, 2s a week for the children (when they were minors), plus £52 back pay, a government pension of 12s 6p a week plus 3s a week for each child. She was given £1,250 from the M.H.T.F and her husband’s £44 B.A.S salary. She professed haeself well satisfied.

Kathleen was awarded the rank of widow of a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1913. She remarried in 1922 and became Baroness Kennet in 1935.

Orians did not remarry. The news of her husband’s death shook her faith, she never really recovered from his loss. She worked for the N.Z Red Cross in World War 1 and was made C.B.E. She supported Frank Debenham in the new Scott Polar Research Institute and presented the institute with many water colours and pencil sketches. She followed her husband’s interest in ornithology and became quite an expert. She lived in Hertfordshire and died there in 1945.

Lois remained in Wales She was with the other widows for an investiture in Buckingham Palace where she received Edgar’s medal and clasp which celebrated his Antarctic expeditions. She was the only widow alive at the premier of ‘Scott in the Antarctic’ a famous film, still remembered and premiered in 1948