Bateson, William, 1861-1926

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William Bateson was a British biologist and geneticist.

From the description of Papers, ca. 1875-1924. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122347511

From the description of Letters, 1902-1921. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122464674

From the guide to the William Bateson papers, ca. 1875-1924, Circa 1875-1924, (American Philosophical Society)

William Bateson (1861-1926), biologist, was the son of William Henry Bateson and brother of the historian Mary Bateson. He was educated at Rugby and St John's College, Cambridge, where he was also a Fellow from 1885 to 1910. Bateson studied embryology and in 1894 published Materials for the study of variation, in which he argued that discontinuous variation was the main source of evolutionary changes. In 1900 he discovered Gregor Mendel's Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden . Over the next four years he championed Mendel's findings and put forward his own argument for a new doctrine of heredity. This led to the publication of Mendel's principles of heredity - a defence in 1902. Bateson termed his study of heredity and variation 'genetics'. In 1908 he became professor of biology at Cambridge, before becoming director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution, Merton, where he worked from 1910 to 1926. He married Beatrice, daughter of Arthur Durham, senior surgeon at Guy's Hospital, in 1896.

From the guide to the William Bateson: Scientific Correspondence and Papers, 19th - 20th century, (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives)

Epithet: Professor of Biology at Cambridge University

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000410.0x00034c

One of the principle figures of turn of the century anti-Darwinian evolutionism, and an early and ardent advocate of Mendelian genetics, William Bateson (1861-1926) was professor at Cambridge University and the John Innes Horticultural Institute. The second of six children born to Anna Aikin and William Henry Bateson, William was raised in an unorthodox and intellectually challenging environment. Like his father, the reformist master of St. Johns College at Cambridge University, the children developed academic tendencies, and each of the Bateson children inherited their parents' habits of independent thought matched with a headstrong and disputatious nature. As a boy, William harbored an interest in natural history quickened by an early exposure to the new theories of Charles Darwin. Although he met with little encouragement at Rugby School, where his academic performance veered from indifferent to unprofitable, William's matriculation at Saint Johns in 1879 provided a wealth of new opportunities. Under the influence of the embryologist Francis Maitland Balfour, Bateson excelled in zoology, and as a postgraduate, he spent two years in the United States studying the embryology and phylogeny of an obscure "worm," Balanoglossus . The choice of projects was propitious. In a painstaking analysis, Bateson identified a host of ontogenetic and anatomical affinities between Balanoglossus and vertebrates, instantaneously rewriting the evolutionary history of the class and gaining a measure of recognition sufficient to earn him election as a fellow at St. Johns in 1885.

After two years of scientific travel in the Russian Steppes and Egypt, Bateson returned to Cambridge in 1887 to absorb himself in the central problems of Darwinian theory: the nature of variation and the mechanism of heredity. For much of a decade, he accumulated data on variation in natural populations, and by the early 1890s, he had begun to situate himself with the ranks of anti-Darwinian evolutionists, emphasizing the discontinuities between species rather than the continuities predicted by Darwinian orthodoxy. Variation, Bateson suggested, could be expressed as a rhythmic or "vibratory" phenomenon analogous to natural phenomena such as ripples, zebra stripes, or morphological segmentation, clearly bounded by natural breaks, with the implication that the evolutionary process was radically different than the gradual incrementalism espoused by Darwin. Bateson's most thorough statement of his evolutionary theories at the time, Materials for the Study of Evolution (1894), was typically exhaustive and forcefully argued, and while it won few converts to either the vibratory theory or discontinuity, it established its author as one the leading anti-Darwinians on the period. Self-confident, intemperate, skeptical, and highly critical of work that he considered shoddy, Bateson was unphased by the lack of response, and continued to toil away at his underpaid position in Cambridge. Moving increasing into experimental studies of evolution, by 1899 he was offering undergraduate courses on "the practical study of evolution."

The last year of the nineteenth century was a watershed in Bateson's career. In April 1900, the Dutch biologist Hugo de Vries sent a copy of an overlooked article that he had recently rediscovered in the Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brunn for 1866. Written by the Bohemian monk Gregor Mendel, the paper outlined a theory of heredity that Bateson immediately grasped could provide a means to account for the discontinuities in organismal variation. In typically pugnacious style, Bateson took up the Mendelian cause against the Galtonians associated with the journal Biometrika and, much later, he continued its defense against the chromosomal theory of heredity advocated by the T. H. Morgan group at Columbia. At the annual meeting of the British Association in 1904, Bateson's ringing defense of Mendel was an important moment in turning aside the biometricians, and his books Mendel's Principles of Heredity: A Defence (1902) and Mendel's Principles of Heredity (1909) were widely read and enormously influential. At Cambridge, he attracted a core of young biologists to his laboratory and left his mark on the field as well by coining much of the terminology associated with modern Mendelian genetics, from allele and zygote to the term genetics itself.

Although his efforts were rewarded with an appointment to a new chair in biology in 1909, Bateson tired of the low pay at Cambridge and departed in 1910 to become the first director of the John Innes Horticultural Institution in Merton, Surrey. Presented with a blank slate, he built the Innes into a formidable center for the study of plant breeding and genetics, devoting his own research time to investigating exceptions to Mendel's laws. He was awarded the Darwin Medal in 1904 and the Royal Medal in 1920, was elected as president of the British Association in 1924, and was Fullerian Professor of Physiology at the Royal Institution. After a brief illness, he died at his home in Merton on February 8, 1926.

From the guide to the William Bateson Collection, 1902-1921, 1902-1921, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Bateson, William, 1861-1926. Letter, 1915. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf William Bateson Collection, 1902-1921, 1902-1921 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Bateson Family Papers, 1829-1940 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Bateson family. Papers, 1836-1940. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Harrison, Ross G. (Ross Granville), 1870-1959. Ross Granville Harrison papers, 1820-1975 (inclusive), 1889-1959 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Genetics Collection, 1884-1971. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Aronson, Lester R. (Lester Ralph), 1911-. Collection on the Kammerer/Noble midwife toad scandal, 1903-1990 (bulk 1923-1975). American Museum of Natural History
referencedIn Sir William Rothenstein correspondence and other papers, 1887-1957. Houghton Library, , Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Morgan, Thomas Hunt, 1866-1945. William Bateson / by T.H. Morgan. American Museum of Natural History
creatorOf Online Archive of California. Bateson family papers, ca. 1835-1942. University of California, Santa Cruz, UCSC
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf Rolleston, Humphry Davy, Sir, 1862-1944. Papers, 1882-1943. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
referencedIn Harrison, Ross G. (Ross Granville), 1870-1959. Ross Granville Harrison papers, 1820-1975 (inclusive), 1889-1959 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn William Bateson Collection, 1902-1921, 1902-1921 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Bateson Family Papers, 1829-1940 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf COCKERELL PAPERS. Vol. LXXXII (ff. 246). Bai-Bel.includes:f. 1 Isobel Baillie, singer: Letter to S. C. Cockerell: 1947.ff. 2-92b Francis William Bain, orientalist: Letters etc., to S. C. Cockerell: 1905-1936.ff. 93-95b Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl... British Library
referencedIn Davenport, Charles Benedict, 1866-1944. Papers, 1874-1944. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn George Sarton additional papers, 1901-1956. Houghton Library, , Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Papers of Guido Pellegrino Arrigo Pontecorvo, genetics research correspondence, Jan 1945-Jun 1992 Glasgow University Archive Services
referencedIn Papers and correspondence of Cyril Dean Darlington, 1903-1981, 1879-1981 Department of Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
referencedIn Bateson Family papers, ca. 1835-1942, (Bulk 1900-1930) University of California, Santa Cruz. . University Library Special Collections and Archives
creatorOf Bateson, William, 1861-1926. Letters, 1902-1921. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Charles Chamberlain Hurst: Correspondence and Papers, 1895-1977 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Department of Genetics Collection, 1911-1947 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Genetics Collection, 1884-1971, 1884-1971 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Department of Genetics Collection, 1911-1947 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn William Bateson: Scientific Correspondence and Papers, 19th - 20th century Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Bateson, William, 1861-1926. Papers, ca. 1875-1924. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Papers of Guido Pontecorvo, personal and family photographs and negatives, c1924-2007 Glasgow University Archive Services
creatorOf William Bateson papers, ca. 1875-1924, Circa 1875-1924 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Papers of Guido Pontecorvo, research photos and slides, 1950s-1980s Glasgow University Archive Services
creatorOf William Bateson: Scientific Correspondence and Papers, 19th - 20th century Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
referencedIn University of California, Berkeley. Dept. of Genetics. Records, 1911-1947. American Philosophical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith American Jersey Cattle Club. corporateBody
associatedWith Aronson, Lester R. (Lester Ralph), 1911- person
associatedWith Bateson, Beatrice person
associatedWith Bateson Caroline Beatrice fl 20th century nee Durham person
associatedWith Bateson, Catharine Beatrice Durham. person
associatedWith Bateson family family
associatedWith Bateson family. family
associatedWith Bateson, William person
associatedWith Baur, Erwin, 1875-1933. person
associatedWith Baur, Georg person
associatedWith Baur, Georg. person
associatedWith Bridges, Calvin B. (Calvin Blackman), 1889-1938 person
associatedWith Buzzati-Traverso, Adriano A. person
associatedWith Cambridge University corporateBody
associatedWith Charles Chamberlain Hurst person
associatedWith Coleman, William, family
associatedWith Coleman, William, 1934- person
associatedWith Darbishire Arthur Dukinfield 1879-1915 person
associatedWith Davenport, Charles Benedict, 1866-1944. person
associatedWith Demerec, M., (Milislav), 1895-1966 person
associatedWith Dempster, Everett R., (Everett Ross), 1903- person
associatedWith Dobell Clifford 1886-1949 person
associatedWith Dollo, Louis, 1857-1931. person
associatedWith Doncaster, L. (Leonard), 1877-1920. person
associatedWith Family, Bateson person
associatedWith Galton, Francis, 1822-1911. person
associatedWith Gardiner, John Stanley, 1872-1946 person
associatedWith Gates Reginald Ruggles 1882-1962 person
associatedWith Genetics Society of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Gowen, John Whittemore, 1893-1967 person
associatedWith Hagedoorn, Arend Lourens, 1880- person
associatedWith Haldane John Burdon Sanderson 1892-1965 person
associatedWith Harmer Sidney Frederic 1862-1950 person
associatedWith Harrison, Ross G. (Ross Granville), 1870-1959. person
associatedWith Hollaender, Alexander, 1898-1986 person
associatedWith Hopkins, F. G. person
associatedWith Huxley Julian Sorell 1887-1975 person
associatedWith International Union of Biological Sciences corporateBody
associatedWith Kammerer Paul 1880-1926 person
associatedWith Kidd, Benjamin, 1858-1916. person
associatedWith Lankester, E. Ray (Edwin Ray), Sir, 1847-1929. person
associatedWith Lederberg, Joshua person
associatedWith Mendel, Gregor, 1822-1884 person
associatedWith Morgan, Thomas Hunt, 1866-1945. person
associatedWith Muller, H. J., (Hermann Joseph), 1890-1967 person
associatedWith Newton, Alfred, 1829-1907. person
associatedWith Osborn, Henry Fairfield, 1857-1935. person
associatedWith Pearl Raymond 1879-1940 person
associatedWith Pontecorvo, Guido Pellegrino Arrigo, 1907-1999, geneticist and Professor of Genetics, University of Glasgow, person
associatedWith Prain David 1857-1944 person
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Punnett, Reginald Crundall, 1875- person
associatedWith Rolleston, Humphry Davy, Sir, 1862-1944. person
correspondedWith Rothenstein, William, Sir, 1872-1945 person
associatedWith Royal Society (Great Britain) corporateBody
correspondedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
associatedWith Schindler, Alois person
associatedWith Sedgwick Adam 1854-1913 person
associatedWith Sherrington, Charles Scott, Sir, 1852-1957. person
associatedWith Smith George Charles Moore 1858-1940 person
associatedWith Stadler, Janice B., 1912- person
associatedWith Turrill William Bertram 1890-1961 person
associatedWith Umaersus, Magnhild person
associatedWith University of California, Berkeley. Dept. of Genetics. corporateBody
associatedWith Virtanen, A. I., (Artturi Ilmari), 1895-1973 person
associatedWith Weldon Walter Frank Raphael 1860-1906 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
England
Subject
Universities and colleges
Radiation--Physiological effect
Biology--Study and teaching
Evolution
Lectures
Eugenics
Marine biology--Research
Universities and colleges--United States
Longevity--Genetic aspects
Biology
Sex linkage (Genetics)
Genetics--Research
Mendel's law
Breeding
Cytology--Research
Biology--Research
Cats--Genetics
Genetics--Great Britain
Political refugees
Cytogenetics--Great Britain
Variation (Biology)
Genetics
Cattle--Breeding
chromosomes,
Cytology
Occupation
Geneticists--England
Function

Person

Birth 1861-08-08

Death 1926-02-08

Britons

English,

German

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