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Charles Crossland

[1844-1916]


This biography is based on material which was kindly submitted by Janet DiMaria, née Crossland, his great-great-niece


Charles Crossland was born in Caddy Field on 3rd September 1844, the son of Charles Crossland.

He left school at the age of 13 to help his parents with their grocery business and at age 16 he was an apprentice butcher.

In 1864, he opened a meat, grocery and general store in Wyke.

In 1864, he married (1) Mary Ann Cragg [1842-1869].

Children: (1) Frances; (2) Frank; (3) Charles; (4) Kate - the last 2 died as infants.

In 1871, he married (2) Clementina Foster.

Children: (5) Ada; (6) Agnes.

In 1873, he moved the family to Halifax where he opened a butcher's shop on Bull Green.

His interest in mycology – the study of fungi – came about when he was helping one of his daughter's with a school project, and was developed through his friendship with James Needham. He was a self-taught mycologist and quickly earned the respect of others in the field. He co-authored a book with William Bunting Crump and published his own contribution separately. In 1904, he was co-author of the book The Flora of the Parish of Halifax. In 1910, he wrote and published the book Pleasant Walks Around Halifax which gives 10 detailed walks along with maps.

He wrote numerous articles for the Halifax Naturalist, including

He had an interest in dialect and wrote articles for the Yorkshire Dialect Society which included The Vowel Sounds and Substitutions of the Halifax Dialect.

With his butcher's business, he went into partnership with Charles Dyson, and in the early part of 1900, he retired from the butcher's trade and concentrated on his hobby of mycology.

He is listed in the Dictionary of British and Irish Botanist and Horticulturalists. He was the Secretary of the Mycological Committee of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union [1893-1914], President of the Naturalists' Union [1907], Founder/Treasurer of the British Mycological Society whose members included Henry Soppitt and James Needham. He was elected a Linnaean Society Fellow in 1899 and withdrew his subscription in 1911.

Charles was very meticulous and precise in his research of specimens and his drawings which probably led to the deterioration of his eye-sight. Many of his books and sketches were given to several institutions including the Halifax Library, Kew Gardens and the USDA, Maryland, USA.

The renowned French mycologist, Dr E Boudier named a fungus after Charles – Ascobolus crosslandii - which is found on the underside of oak leaves. Other fungi named for him include: Amphiroa crosslandii, Archaeolithothamnion crosslandii, Elaphomyces crosslandii – a fungus which grows on decorticated wood, Octospora crosslandii, Parasmittina crosslandii, Peniophora crosslandii, Polyporeae crosslandii – a fungus which grows on pine bark and wood, and Ptilotus crosslandii.

Charles's sister, Caroline, married John William Hemingway who was the founder of the J. W. Hemingway Brewery in Leeds. The brewery and its numerous pubs were sold to Tetley's in the 1960s.

Later, the family lived at 4 Coleridge Street, Halifax. Charles died on 9th December 1916 at Halifax at the age of 72. He was such a stickler for detail that he wrote a short memoir for the Halifax Courier which was to be printed after his death.

After his funeral at the Harrison Road Independent Chapel, where he had been on the Board of Directors, Charles was buried at Stoney Royd Cemetery [Section M Grave 025C] with his first wife, Mary Ann, and their 2 children, Charles and Kate, and his second wife, Clementina, alongside 2 other family graves.

His 3 granddaughters – all unmarried and fondly known as the Peacock sisters – inherited some of his work and this was donated to the Halifax Scientific Society at the time of their deaths.

The youngest of the sisters, Elsie Gertrude, died in 1989


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© Malcolm Bull 2013 / calderdale@aol.com
Revised 15:58 on 31st December 2013 / mmc277 / 9