The Big One

Notes


Professor James Edwin Duerden

He received his early education at the Ebenezer Baptist School, and from an early age worked as a cotton weaver. He attended night classes at the Burnley Mechanics’ Institute where he obtained an Exhibition at the Royal College of Science, London in 1885. He studied in London between 1885 and 1889 and gained their associateship in zoology in 1890; he also attended lectures concurrently at Kings College, London. He was conferred with the degree of B.Sc. from the University of London at around this time. He later carried out post-graduate work at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA for which he gained the degree of Ph.D. in 1900. He also held a M.Sc. from the University of Capetown.

1881 Census: He was 16 yrs old, a cotton weaver, living with his parents, John and Margaret and siblings Mary, Priscilla, Samuel, Margaret, Martha and Frank at 4 Byerden Street, Burnley.

In September 1893 he married Mary Jane Haworth, a teacher at his old primary school, in Burnley, and they remained in Dublin until 1895 when he accepted the post of Curator of the Museum in the Institute of Jamaica, Kingston.

For James and his wife it was a time of great happiness that culminated in the birth in Jamaica of their only child Edwin Noel on 30th March 1896.

James and his family then moved to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC), but tragedy was to follow when his son died on 24th September 1902 at the tender age of six. Noel Edwin Duerden is buried at Old Chapel Hill Cemetery on the campus of the university.

Between 1903 and 1905 he was working as the Acting Assistant Professor (or Instructor, depending on the source of information) of Zoology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and was concurrently an Honorary Curator at the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

In 1905 he was on the move again, and took up the position of Professor of Zoology at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa.

After his retirement from Rhodes University in March 1932 Duerden moved to Leeds in England. He lived at Ashwood House, 46 Headingley Lane, Leeds 6.

He died 4th September 1937 at the age of 72 in Leeds as a result of an injury sustained in a fall in a bus while he and his wife were travelling to that year’s British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Nottingham. His ashes and those of his wife (who survived him) are interred in the family plot at Haggate Cemetery, Burnley.

His estate was valued at just over £8,500 and following his wife’s life interest, he left the Rhodes University £1,000 which was a considerable sum at the time, St Michael and St George’s Cathedral £500, and the Diocesan School for Girls £250.