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Samuel Tickell

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Samuel Tickell

Samuel Tickell.

Colonel Samuel Richard Tickell (19 August 1811 – 20 April 1875) was a British army officer, artist, linguist and ornithologist in India and Burma.

Tickell was born at Cuttack in India. He was educated in England, returning at the age of nineteen to join the Bengal Native Infantry in 1829. He served in the 31st Bengal Native Infantry during the Kol campaign (1832-33). He was made commander of Brian Hodgson's military escort to Katmandu from 1834. He returned to Bengal in 1843, and after his promotion to Captain in 1847 he was moved to Arakan, lower Burma.[1]

During his time in India, Tickell made important contributions to the country's ornithology and mammalology, with field observations and the collections of specimens. He contributed to volume 17 of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Volume 18 included a report by Tickell from Burma. He wrote under the pen-name of "Ornithognomon" and "Old Log".[2] Hume noted that many of the notes written as "Ornithognomon" in the Field were based on observations of Wilson.[3]

Tickell retired in 1865, living for a while in France before settling in the Channel Islands. In 1870, while fishing on the coast of Brittany, he suffered an eye inflammation which made him blind. Tickell had been working on a seven volume work entitled Illustrations of Indian Ornithology, but his deteriorating eyesight forced him to abandon it. Before his death he donated the unfinished work to the Zoological Society of London. These works were bound into fourteen volumes. These included one on the fishes collected in the seas and freshwaters of British Burma from 1851-64 with watercolour illustrations, a work that was examined by very few fish taxonomists, the earliest work being by Francis Day. A volume on the mammals (214 pages) and another on insects, reptiles, amphibians, arachnids and crustaceans (256 pages) and the remaining volumes on birds. Of these seven volumes were under the title of Indian Ornithology and included 276 species illustrated of a total of 488 species described. In addition there were two volumes with the title Tickell Aves with descriptions and watercolour illustrations which were based on two draft volumes of Tickell Aves MS I & II.[4] With his excellent artistic abilities, the work included paintings of the birds in natural habitats as well as ink vignettes showing scenes from Indian life.[2] He died in Cheltenham.[1]

A number of birds were named after Tickell, including:

and one species after his wife:

Tickell was also interested in linguistics and wrote a series of articles on the grammatical structure of the Ho language.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b "Biographical notices of the Original Members of the BO, of the principal Contributors to the First Series of the Ibis, and of the Officials: Colonel S.R. Tickell". Ibis Jubilee Supplement: 211–212. 1908. 
  2. ^ a b Walden, Arthur Viscount (1876). """Notes on the late Colonel Tickell's manuscript Work entitled "Illustrations of Indian Ornithology. Ibis 18 (3): 336–357.  
  3. ^ Hume, AO & CHT Marshall (1879). Game birds of India, Burmah and Ceylon. Volume 1. p. 174. 
  4. ^ Whitehead, P.J.P. & P.K. Talwar (1976). "Francis Day (1829–1889) and his collections of Indian Fishes". Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Historical Series 5 (1): 1–189. 
  5. ^ Tickell, S.R. (1840). "Vocabulary of the Ho language". Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal 9: 1063–1090. 
  6. ^ Tickell, S.R. (1840). "Grammatical construction of the Ho language". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 9: 997–1007. 


  • Biographies for Birdwatchers, Mearns and Mearns ISBN 0-12-487422-3
  • Ibis Jubilee Supplement 1908
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