Thomas Pennant (1726-1798) has been described as the most prominent zoologist after John Ray and before Charles Darwin. He was born and spent the whole of his life at his family’s estate in Downing Hall near Whitford, Flintshire, but he travelled to Scotland, Cornwall and other parts of Britain, recording the antiquities and natural life he saw. The Library has an extensive collection of his works, including The British Zoology, A Tour in Scotland and A Tour in Wales.
In a recent auction we succeeded in purchasing an English Bible printed in 1619 with the signature “Thomas Pennant Esqr Downing” in elegant handwriting on one of the endpapers. Further on in the volume are more handwritten notes: “This Book for the Sarvents [sic] of Thos. Pennant Esqr of Downing” and also: “David Pennant Esqr His Booke In the year of Our Lord God 1751”. David was the name of Thomas Pennant’s son, but he was born in 1763, so this is probably the signature of Thomas Pennant’s father, also called David. So the volume probably spent many years in the home of the Pennant family. It is appropriate that it should now find a new home in the National Library with the works of this prominent Welshman.
Rare Books Librarian
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