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Biographical entry Newport, George (1803 - 1854)

MRCS April 14th 1835; FRCS Dec 11th 1843 one of the original 300 Fellows; LSA 1835; FRS 1846.

4 July 1803
7 April 1854
Entomologist and General surgeon


The son of a wheelwright at Canterbury, where he was born on July 4th, 1803. He was first apprenticed to his father's trade, but becoming interested in insect life he was appointed curator of a museum of natural history established by Mr Masters, a nurseryman in the town, next apprenticed to William Henry Weekes, a surgeon of Sandwich, who was an enthusiast in chemistry and physics. He entered University College, then called the University of London, on Jan 16th, 1832.

He was appointed House Surgeon to the Chichester Infirmary in April, 1835, by the influence of Sir John Forbes, MD, who was then the Physician and ever after remained his friend, and retained the post until January, 1837. He made frequent visits to Canterbury and its neighbourhood, more especially to Richborough, where he studied the habits of the humble-bee, the white cabbage butterfly, and the buff-tip moth. He proved too that in the generative system of the amphibia the impregnation of the ovum by the spermatozoon is not merely the result of contact but of penetration, and for this discovery he was awarded a Royal Medal in 1851 by the Royal Society, where he had been admitted a Fellow on March 26th, 1846. He also contributed valuable papers to the Transactions of the Linnean Society, of which he became a Fellow in 1857, and to the Entomological Society, of which he was President in 1844-1845.

When he left Chichester, Newport settled in London at 30 Southwick Street to practise as a surgeon, but his scientific pursuits prevented success and he was given a Civil List pension of £100 a year in 1847.

He seems never to have married, and he died at 55 Cambridge Street, Hyde Park, London, on April 7th, 1854, of a cold caught "in the marshy grounds of Shepherds Bush while procuring his annual supply of living animals for his physiological investigations." He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, where a granite monument was erected to his memory by the Fellows of the Royal and Linnean Societies.

Newport, like his successor, W K Parker, subordinated his medical practice to his scientific interests. The genius of both lay in their unwearied patience, in their attention to detail, and in their faithful record of observed facts. He was a very skilful dissector and was able to draw equally well with his left and right hand. He concerned himself more particularly with the embryology and reproduction of the Insects and Amphibia, the economic value of his work being shown by the medal awarded to him by the Agricultural Society of Saffron Walden in 1838 for his essay on the turnip-fly.

Newport's paper on the "Impregnation of the Ovum in the Amphibia" is printed in the Philosophical Trans, 1851, cxli, 169.
His catalogue of the Myriapoda in the British Museum appeared posthumously in 1856.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Dict Nat Biog, sub nomine et auct ibi cit. Med Times and Gaz, 1854, ns viii, 392. The Epitaph in Kensal Green Cemetery is given at length in the Lancet, 1855, ii, 554].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England