Charles Waterton

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Charles Waterton (June 3, 1782 – May 27, 1865) was an English naturalist and explorer.

Contents

Life

"Squire" Waterton was born at Walton Hall, Wakefield, Yorkshire to Thomas Waterton and Anne Bedingfield. He was of a Roman Catholic landed gentry family descended from Reiner de Waterton. His ancestry[1] is alleged to include eight saints: Vladimir the Great, Saint Anna of Russia, the Holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb, Saint Stephen of Hungary, Saint Margaret of Scotland and Saint Mathilde together with Saint Thomas More, Humbert III of Savoy and several European royal families.

He was also a descendant of the Old English Chieftain Ailric, Kings Thane to Edward the Confessor, who held Cawthorne and much of South Yorkshire before the Conquest. The heiress Sara le Neville inherited a vast estate from her grandfather Adam FitzSwain (the grandson of Ailric) and it passed to the De Burghes, then they to the Watertons in 1435. The Watertons were one of the few aristocratic families who refused to convert to the new Protestant religion during the reign of Henry VIII, and consequently the vast bulk of their estates were confiscated.[1] Charles Waterton was a devout, ascetic Catholic and maintained strong links with the Vatican.

He was educated at Stonyhurst College in Lancashire where his interest in exploration and wildlife were already evident. On one occasion Waterton was caught by the school's Jesuit Superior scaling the towers at the front of the building; almost at the top, the Superior ordered him to come down the way he had gone up.[2] Whilst at the school, he records in his autobiography that "by a mutual understanding, I was considered rat-catcher to the establishment, and also fox-taker, foumart-killer, and cross-bow charger at the time when the young rooks were fledged. . . I followed up my calling with great success. The vermin disappeared by the dozen; the books were moderately well thumbed; and according to my notion of things, all went on perfectly right."[3]

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