The Jamaican Naturalist William Thomas March (1804-1872): a preliminary review of his zoological and botanical collections
Keywords:Black Collector, Spanish Town, Hooker, P.H. Gosse, Spencer Fullerton Baird, Natural History, Caribbean, W.W. Marsh
William Thomas March (1804-1872) was responsible for extensive zoological and botanical collections, including one of the syntype specimens of Mimus gundlachii hillii March 1874. The specimen is held at World Museum, National Museums Liverpool. March was a Jamaican naturalist and collector. He was of black and white ancestry and worked with well-known collectors of his time. He was highly regarded amongst his peers. Many institutions worldwide house March’s botanical and zoological specimens but some have been misattributed as his name has been documented inconsistently. There is little doubt that more of his collections have yet to be found, located and documented. One of the main findings of this paper is that Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1882), first curator of the National Museum at the Smithsonian, honoured March’s work by naming the Black Faced Grassquit Melanospiza bicolor marchii after him as he said March had “done so much towards extending our knowledge of the natural history of his island.” The objective of this paper is to highlight the breadth of distribution of March’s Jamaican specimens around the world and to summarise his achievements and background for museums and institutions that house his specimens. This is especially important at this time when museums are looking to diversify their audience and improve their collection interpretations.