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Abstract

This paper examines the tragic life of William Perceval (wrongly Percival) Hunter (1812–1878), who was active right across natural history in the period 1828–1841. He was a nephew of the ‘father of American Geology’, William Maclure, but, despite this, has been completely forgotten. He produced a number of books and papers, some of which discussed what were to become dinosaurs in 1842, and the Wealden, and adjoining rocks, which had produced so many of them. Hunter was, notably, one of the first to draw attention to the Isle of Wight as a favoured fossil locality for these, among the many other natural history topics he covered. His problems were initially his itinerancy, then his failure to complete projects, coupled with their publication privately, obscurely and abroad. But the major problem comes from his forgotten end; first, in a Scottish medical ‘confinement’ from 1841 and, finally, within a major asylum there, until 1878. This left him unable to complete his projects and with an indelible mark on any reputation he might have acquired.

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