L. E. Adams, 1854–1945


By J. R. le B. Tomlin

Extracted from Journal of Conchology, Volume 22, p.204

Lionel Ernest Adams was born in Gower Street, W.C., on 22nd September, 1854. His father, Ernest Adams, was a master at University College, and his mother Margaret was a daughter of Thomas Brettingham, of Brockdish Hall, Norfolk.

His father was a brother of Henry and Arthur Adams, whose names are so well known in conchological literature.

When Lionel was about nine the family moved to Manchester where his father had bought a large boarding school in Queen’s Park. Many of the boys came from the Continent, and Lionel, who had entered the school, sometimes went to stay with schoolfellows in Germany, Holland, and Turkey, and developed a passion for travelling which never left him. At 18 he entered the Telegraph Service in Egypt, but after two years he came home to study medicine and become a ship’s doctor, and took the London B.A. at Owens College. Finding that the medical course would delay his chance of going on voyages for so long he took a master-ship at his father’s school and subsequently at schools at Stafford, Penistone, and elsewhere, being thus able to devote the holidays to travel.

Sometimes this took the form of long walking tours at home, during which the mollusca and small rodents were his favourite objects of study. He joined this Society in 1885, having in the previous year published The Collector’s Manual of British Land and Freshwater Shells, with 9 plates, 1 to 8 being coloured: there is also an issue with all plates plain. The figures were all drawn by his brother Gerald W. Adams. In 1896 a second edition appeared, considerably enlarged, with an additional plate 10 of Pisidia – issued coloured and plain as before, and containing the Census of Authenticated Records of Distribution. In 1902 he published the Census in this Journal, vol. 10, pp. 217 – 237, and was president of the Society, 1898–9.

He contributed papers on various branches to most journals which dealt with natural history, such as the Field, Wild Life, and our own Journal, and in gathering data walked round the whole coast of England.

In 1923 he married Amy Margaret Sherwin, of Stafford. He spent the latter part of his life in the Isle of Wight, and died at Newport at the age of 90 on 20th September, 1945.

He presented his collection to this Society at the beginning of the war.