MC:P233 Papers of Albert Everard Gunther (1903-98) and his Family
Albert Everard Gunther (1903-1998) was a Commoner at Magdalen between 1922-1925. Later in life he donated many of his father’s papers (Robert Gunther) and those relating to Edward Chapman to the archives. Please refer to the index at the end of the catalogue for concordance with old catalogue and accession numbers.
It should be noted that in several instances, Albert Gunther bound his father’s correspondence and papers into volumes, the content of which was selected according to his personal choice. This means that the order of the material is somewhat arbitrary; cataloguing has followed the order imposed by Albert Gunther and so does not always conform to the logical order of the documents. There are also annotations in pencil and ink throughout the volumes.
Many of these items were scattered throughout the MS collection. Care has been taken to ensure that the provenance is noted where possible. If provenance has not been listed, then the items will be catalogued under the section where they are most likely to have originated from.
The collection is divided into the following sections:
I – ALBERT EVERARD GUNTHER
Information for this biography was taken from the Magdalen College Register 1934 & 1997 and the Magdalen College Record, 1999.
Albert Gunther was born on January 28th, 1903, the eldest son of Robert Gunther. He had one brother, Leslie Gunther, who died in air accident in 1923, aged nineteen. He studied Geology at Magdalen from 1922-1925, the embarking on a career as a petroleum geologist, which took him abroad to places such as South America. Apart from his work, Albert was also a mountaineer, and claimed the first ascents of many mountains.
In retirement, Albert started to work through his father’s papers, giving those found in this collection to Magdalen, others to the Bodleian and still more to other institutions nationwide. He also wrote his father’s biography, which was published in 1967 (a copy of which can be found in the New Library at Magdalen College, reference 942.2 GUN v.15).
II – ROBERT WILLIAM THEODORE GUNTHER
This biography is taken from the Dictionary of National Biography online.
Robert Gunther was born at Surbiton, Surrey, 23 August 1869, the only son of the zoologist Albert Charles Lewis Gotthilf Günther, by his first wife, Roberta, sixth and youngest daughter of Baillie John McIntosh, of St. Andrews, and sister of William Carmichael IIntosh, also a well-known zoologist. His mother died ten days after his birth, and his father married again in 1879. He married in 1900 Amy, daughter of Eustace Neville-Rolfe, of Heacham, Norfolk, consul-general for southern Italy (1895-1908), and had two sons.
He was educated at University College School, London, and at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he continued the biological tradition of his family by obtaining in 1892 a first class in animal morphology, as the school of zoology was then called. In 1893 he went for research to the Stazione Zoologica at Naples, where he also studied the relative movements of land and sea. He then became lecturer (1894) and tutor (1896) in natural science at Magdalen College, and in 1897 he was elected to a Fellowship which he held until 1928.
Robert Gunther’s guiding motive was his veneration for the science of the past, and it is as an antiquary that he will be remembered. He devoted himself to the collection and preservation of instruments and writings relative to the history of science, and it was largely through his agency that the Lewis Evans collection of scientific instruments was presented to the university of Oxford in 1924. For the welfare of this collection, of which he became the first curator, he used all his considerable powers of persuasion and polemic. He induced the university to house it in a part of the Old Ashmolean Building and he was most successful in extracting from rather apathetic university institutions their scientific treasures which might otherwise have been lost or dispersed, or at least would not have been available for study. The creation in 1935 of the Museum of the History of Science, in which various collections are now incorporated, and the obtaining for it of the whole of the Old Ashmolean Building – Oxford’s principal monument of seventeenth-century science – was Robert Gunther’s worthiest work.
From 1934 to 1939 Gunther was university reader in the history of science. He published many works on this subject, amongst which may be mentioned his Early British Botanists and their Gardens (1922), the fourteen books, some original and some reprints, which constitute the series Early Science in Oxford (1920-1945), and his massive and beautifully produced The Astrolabes of the World (2 vols., 1932). Some of these are marred by inaccuracies, due to the author’s haste to cover the vast field which he saw open before him and to his individualism that disinclined him to consult those with specialized knowledge, but none the less they supply information that can nowhere else be obtained.
Gunther died suddenly at South Stoke, Oxfordshire, 9 March 1940.
III – EDWARD CHAPMAN
This biography uses information from the Register of Magdalen College (Vol VII p. 36-38) by William Dunn Macray, and from Who’s Who online.
Edward Chapman born on 12th October 1839, son of John Chapman, MP, Hill End. He studied at Merton College, gaining a 1st class Final Public Examination in Natural Science, Oxford in 1864. In 1863 he married Elizabeth Beardoe, daughter of F. Grundy, Mottram.
He was Fellow of Magdalen College between 1882-1906 as well as being a Lecturer in Natural Science. He was a member of the Linnean Society (as was Robert Gunther after him). He left Magdalen to become MP (Conservative) for the Hyde Division of Cheshire from 1900-1905, as well as holding the following positions: Lord of the Manor of Hattersley; Director and Deputy―Chairman of the Great Central Railway; Director of South East Railway.