Leonard Walter Stratton, 1900-1971

By H. E. Biggs

Extracted from Journal of Conchology, Volume 27, pp.427–429
Leonard W. Stratton
Leonard Walter Stratton was born in Southampton on 23 October 1900 and was educated at Itchen Grammar School and later at King Alfred’s College, Winchester. He took up teaching as a profession. In 1926 he married Irene May Bristow by whom he had two daughters. His early appointments were in Hampshire; firstly at Woolston Boys’ School, Southampton, which was subsequently evacuated to Ringwood, in the New Forest, during the Second World War. There he served in the Home Guard as a sergeant for the duration. It was at this time that he had the opportunity of studying the local molluscan fauna and several papers from his pen were published in the Journal of Conchology.

In 1944 he was appointed Headmaster of Aldenham Church of England School at Delrow in Hertfordshire. There he was a sidesman at Aldenham Parish Church and later People’s Warden for five years. Thence he went to Redbourn to become Headmaster of the Boys’ Primary School in 1957 and there he remained till his retirement in 1965. He had, two years previously, moved to Harpenden.

This residence of twenty-six years in Hertfordshire enabled him to do extensive field work on the mollusca of the county. He was recorder for Mollusca for the Hertfordshire Natural History Society and in 1955 published, in the Transactions of that Society, "The Mollusca of Hertfordshire" gathering all the known records of the non-marine mollusca for the county from other workers and with the addition of his own making a comprehensive work of 38 pages. He also contributed many shorter papers and notes to the same journal.

Stratton’s interest in natural history began at an early age and continued throughout his life but from 1936 it was centred in conchology and he joined the Society in 1942. He had the distinction of being elected twice to the presidential chair, 1954–56 and 1962–64. To the best of my knowledge only one other, Mr. J. R. le B. Tomlin, has been accorded this honour. During Stratton’s second presidency the First European Malacological Congress was held in London, the Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland and the Malacological Society of London being joint hosts; he was also a member of this latter Society.

One of his most important contributions to the knowledge of our non-marine mollusca was his "The Mollusca of the Malham Area" which was the subject of his presidential address in 1956 [and which covered 25 pages in the Society’s journal].

He was also the author of two successful books; “Your Book of Shell Collecting” in 1968 and “Your Book of the Seashore” in 1970. The former was the means of introducing Junior Membership in the Society to many young people. Mr. Pringle, of Messrs Faber & Faber, the publishers of these two works, remarked to me "He was an ideal author"; I know what that means, for a publisher there is nothing more helpful than to have an author who produces his manuscript on time. A third work of a more scientific nature on the ecology of mollusca was in hand when he died. It will not be passed to another to complete.

Stratton was a very competent field naturalist, delightful to work with and very thorough in his examination and search of any area he selected. He had a sound knowledge of the habits and habitats of British mollusca and the present writer remembers a very profitable week spent with him at Dale Fort Field Centre in 1963 when we covered marine collecting as well as the non-marine species. He was Chairman of the Marine Census Committee of the Society. He worked with Dr. H. E. Quick on several field courses both at Juniper Hall, Surrey, and Malham in Yorkshire.

He did not describe any new species of mollusc but one species is named after him of which he writes "...my only claim to fame is in Placostylus strattoni Pain. Always regarded as something of a joke as it was bought, with others, for 2s. 6d. in a junk shop." This humility was typical of him.

He died on 22 January 1971 at his home in Harpenden after a short illness which followed a successful major operation some months previously from which we thought he had made a very good recovery and gained a much longer lease of useful life.

Stratton’s mollusca collection was purchased jointly by the Manchester Museum and Leeds City Museum. The catalogued collection, consisting of some 7,500 sets was divided as follows. To Leeds, British marine mollusca, British and foreign Unionacea (excluding Australian Mutelidae), foreign marine bivalves. To Manchester went the British non-marine mollusca (excluding the Unionacea), foreign non-marine mollusca (excluding Unionacea), Australian marine mollusca, New Zealand land mollusca, the Australian Mutelidae and fossil mollusca. The duplicate, uncatalogued material in each group was taken by the other museum.

List of publications by L. W. Stratton

1945 Snails of the Avon Valley, Hampshire. J. Conch. 22: 134–135.
1945 Planorbis corneus in Herts. J. Conch. 22: 172.
1946 Some New Forest Snails. J. Conch. 22: 197–199.
1946 Arion ater var. albolateralis Roebuck. J. Conch. 22: 177.
1946 Arion ater var. albolateralis Roebuck. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 22: 163.
1946 Erosion of Lymnaea stagnalis. J. Conch. 22: 208–214.
1947 Mollusca of Wicken, Fen. J. Conch. 22: 247.
1948 Succinca elegans Rossm. in Herts. J. Conch. 22: 304.
1948 Flood debris from the River Colne. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 23: 24–29.
1948 Useful Sparrows. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 23: 37.
1946 Behaviour of a Robin with a Millipede. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 23: 37.
1949 Colonization of Land Snails. J. Conch. 22: 43.
1949 Succinea in Hertfordsbire. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 23: 72–73.
1950 Habitat of Clausilia rolphii Turton. J. Conch. 23: 101–104.
1950 Planorbis corneus (L.) var. rubra Oldham.J. Conch. 23: 104–105.
1950 Land Mollusca of the Parish of Aldenham. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 23: 100–127.
1951 The Mollusca of Elstree Reservoir. J. Conch. 23: 147–149.
1954 On Arianta arbustorum (L.). J. Conch. 23: 405–412.
1954 New Locality for Hygromia limbata (Draparnaud). J. Conch. 24: 20.
1955 The Mollusca of Hertfordshire. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 24: 81–118.
1955 Clausilia dubia Draparnaud in the Maiham area. J. Conch. 24: 41–46.
1956 The Mollusca of the Malham Area. J. Conch. 24: 111–138.
1956 Report on Mollusca. Trans. Herts. Nat. Hist. Soc. 24: 197.
1956 Comments on Introduced Land Mollusca of New Zealand. Bull. Conch. Sect. Auckland Mus. 12:11–12.
1958 (Review) Pacific Sea Shells. J. Conch. 24: 288.
1959 Two unusual snail colonies. J. Conch. 24: 332–324.
1960 Early Breeding of Marpessa lamninata (Montagu). J. Conch. 24: 432.
1960 Some Variations in the Unionidae. J. Conch. 24: 433–437.
1962 (Review) Sea Shells of the World. J. Conch. 25: 136.
1962 The Cardiacea. The Conchologists' Newsletter. No. 4: 19–20.
1963 (Review) A Synopsis of the British freshwater Bivalve Mollusca. J. Conch. 25: 169–170.
1963 An Ecological Study. J. Conch. 25: 174–179.
1963 (Review) Marine Mollusca of Victoria. J. Conch. 25: 206.
1963 (Review) Contributions to the Knowledge of South African marine Mollusca. Part III Gastropoda: Prosobranchiata: Taenioglossa. J. Conch. 25: 207.
1964 (Review) Marine molluscan Genera of Western North America. An illustrated key. J. Conch. 25: 247.
1964 Collecting at Dale. J. Conch. 25: 255–263.
1964 (Review) Contributions to the knowledge of South African marine Mollusca. J. Conch. 25: 275.
1964 Cecilioides acicula (Müller) as a garden snail. J. Conch. 25: 284–285.
1964 Collecting Non-marine Molluscs. "Papers for Students" No. 2. Pubd. by Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
1964 Non-marine Molluscs of the Parish of Dale. Field Studies, 2 (1), 41–52.
1965 (Review) Marine shells of Southern Africa. J. Conch. 25: 361–362.
1965 Snail-killing Flies. Poirieria 2 (6). 96–97.
1966 (Review) The Young Specialist looks at Molluscs. J. Conch. 26: 140.
1968 Your Book of Shell Collecting. Faber & Faber.
1968 Obituary. H. E. Quick. J. Conch. 26: 275–277.
1969 What Price Shells? The Conchologists’ Newsletter No. 30: 108.
1969 Monacha cartusiana (Müller) in Suffolk. The Conchologists’ Newsletter. No. 30: 110–111.
1970 Conchology and Archaeology. Mollusca at Verulamium. J. Conch. 27: 131–134.
1970 Your Book of the Seashore. Faber & Faber.
1970 Numbers of Shells. J. Conch. 27: 171–176.