Friday, 24 May 2013

Donors of Reptiles to London Zoo 1914/15: 5. M.C. Myres

Following up this series of posts, this is what Clin Keeling wrote in A Short History of British Reptile Keeping:

For instance, there was one M.C. Myres of The School House, Sherborne, Dorset, who presented two Horned Toads (as ninety-nine out of a hundred readers will know, these are Lizards actually) and an Undulated Lizard on 27th October 1914 — I imagine before going into the Army…

I am pretty sure M.C. Myres was Miles Claude Myres, the son of Professor Sir John Linton Myres, the archaeologist and Wykeham Professor of Ancient History at Oxford. Earlier in 1914 we find him, aged 14, accompanying his father plus a large portion of the British scientific establishment, on the Orient Line’s Orvieto en route to Australia for the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held throughout August. The ship left England on 3 July. Also on board were the incoming president, Sir Oliver Lodge FRS, the physicist and spiritualist (well, he was a physicist) who, at the time, was the first principal of the University of Birmingham. There was also the former president, Sir Edward Schafer (later Sharpey-Schafer) FRS (1850-1935), physiologist and author of Essentials of Histology which was used as a textbook into the 1960s [first year physiology students at Sheffield in 1962 were recommended to buy Hewer’s histology textbook instead, although a number of us had used Sharpey-Schafer at school].

Myres must have donated the lizards to London Zoo soon after his return from Australia. From the address given, it would appear that he had them at school. Horned ‘toads’ (Phyrnosoma) were not known for their longevity in captivity. Was he given them on his return from Australia but then decided not to keep them? Since these lizards are from North and Central America, it is likely that the ‘Undulated Lizard’ was Sceloporus undulatus.

Shipping records show that Miles C. Myres became a farmer in Southern Rhodesia, paralleling the life of John C Dendy, who featured in this series (see my post of 27 October 2012). Both Myres and Dendy were sons of professors; both kept reptiles; both gave the reptiles to London Zoo; both became farmers in Southern Africa. 

Miles Claude Myres, according to a family history website, died in 1931. He was married with children. Shipping records show his widow and children travelling from Liverpool to Montreal in 1940. It appears that some of his descendants are in Australia.