Naturalist and palaeobotanist, born on 24 November 1816 in Scarborough. Despite interruptions to his education through ill-health and an apprenticeship to a local apothecary, his chief interest was in natural history and in 1835 he was appointed curator of the Natural History Museum in Manchester. There he developed his interest in geology and obtained medical qualifications. He held posts in local medical institutions and published papers in The Lancet and the Association Medical Journal. When Owens College was founded in 1851 he was appointed professor of natural History, anatomy and physiology, and continued as professor of botany until his retirement in 1892, gaining a reputation for his pioneering work in fossil plants. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1854. He was a prominent member of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society.
His first wife was the daughter of the Rev. Robert Wood (e.m. 1811; died 1851). He was for some years associated with the Wesleyan Methodists in Manchester and served both as one of the managers and as the medical attendant at Didsbury College. He contributed articles to the *'London Quarterly Review, 'cautiously accepting' the theory of evolution, but avoiding 'scientific dogmatism and intolerance' (Oxford DNB). He died at Clapham, London on 23 June 1895.