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|BABINGTON, Charles Cardale.C.||23 November 1808-22 July 1895||
Born at Ludlow, Shropshire, the son of Joseph Babington (1768-1826), a physician. Educated at Charterhouse and at Cambridge where he obtained B.A.(1830), M.A.(1833) and first became interested in plants, the study of which eventually led him to become Professor of Botany at Cambridge from 1861-1895. Babington’s work on botany also involved him in entomology, and in 1833 he was a founder member of the Entomological Society. It would appear, however, that it was the extensive field work all over Britain (he also visited Iceland in 1846) which he undertook in connection with the publication of his magnum opus the Botanical Manual, (eight editions in the 19th century alone) that really fired his interest in the Coleoptera in particular. By 1860 the Ent.Ann. listed Coleoptera as his only interest but noted that he had stopped collecting, and was 'happy to give information'. Babington was clearly known to Charles Darwin as is clear from a letter in the latter’s published correspondence to W.D.Fox dated 1 April 1829: ‘I have caught Mr Harbour letting Babington have the first pick of the beettles [sic]..’ It is not surprising, therefore, that he should have been chosen to describe some of the beetle species (Dytiscidae) from the ‘Beagle’ voyage. Babington was an enthusiastic Committee man. Whilst at Cambridge he became Secretary of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, a position he held for many years, and in 1830 he joined the Linnean Society. Three years later, on the occasion of the first meeting of the British Association at Cambridge, he was appointed Secretary of the natural history section, and from that time until 1871 he was rarely absent from their annual meetings. From 1853-1861 he acted as President of the section. In 1836 he was one of the founder members of the Ray Club, of which he acted as Secretary for fifty five years, and he was on the Council of the Ray Society. In 1840 he was one of the founders of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, and in 1850 he joined the Cambrian Archaeological Association, serving as Chairman of its committee from 1855 to 1885, He was also a member of many other national and local societies. Babington married Anna Maria the daughter of John Walker on 3 April 1866. There is a portrait of him by William Tizard in St, John's College. The best account is his autobiographical: Memorials, Journal and Botanical Correspondence, Cambridge, 1897; and there are shorter notices in DNB (Supplement), and in Alumni Cantabrigiensis II (1), 1940. (MD 9/01)
Duff (1993), p.3 records that Babington ‘was probably the first resident Somerset coleopterist as he came to live in Bath at the age of 14’. (MD 10/03)