James Hornell, 1865-1949

Extracted from Journal of Conchology, Volume 23, p.53.

Many zoologists will have heard with regret of the death of James Hornell on 24 February 1949, in his eighty-fourth year. Originally a marine biologist, he will also be remembered for his work on coastal craft of all kinds in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and the volume Water Transport (1946). He was a Fellow of the Linnean Society and of the Royal Anthropological Institute: but, although interested in Mollusca, he never became a member of the Conchological Society.

While in Jersey he published some short papers on Mollusca in the Journal of Marine Zoology (1893–6). In 1902 he went to Ceylon where, as assistant to Professor W. A. Herdman, he was responsible for the bulk of the work on the Ceylon pearl oyster fisheries. The results were published in five volumes by the Royal Society as a Report on the Pearl Oyster Fisheries of the Gulf of Manaar (1903–1906). This report contains some important papers on parasites by Shipley and Hornell, in which they were able to show the strong probability that most pearls in Pinctada vulgaris are due to a cestode, Tetrarhynchus unionifactor, which is found in its larval stages in the pearl oyster and in adult form in the eagle ray, Rhinoptera javanica. Hornell was Director of Fisheries to the Government of Madras from 1907 to 1924.

Among his publications in the Madras Fisheries Bulletin are “The Sacred Chank of India” (No. 7, 1914), “Edible Molluscs of South India” (volume 11, 1917), and “Common Molluscs of South India” (volume 14, 1922). He also wrote on the Indian varieties and races of the genus Turbinella (Mem. Indian Mus. 6, 1916). Among the papers in his Report . . . on the Marine Zoology of Okhamandal (1909), one gives an account of the anatomy and economic uses of the window-pane oyster, Placuna placenta (L.), and another records the presence of symbiotic algae in the pelagic nudibranch, Melibe. One of his last appointments as an adviser on fisheries was to the Seychelles Islands. In his later years be lived at St. Leonards-on-sea.