Amelia Warren Griffiths (1768-1858)
Amelia Warren Griffiths raised awareness of the diversity of marine plant life in Devon. At the same time she helped make seaweed collecting and seaside holidays popular.
She was born in Pilton, North Devon. In 1794 she married the Reverend William Griffiths, who became a vicar in Cornwall. He died in rather mysterious circumstances, leaving Amelia with five young children to bring up. In 1829 she settled in Torquay – an ideal place to study seaweeds.
Mrs Griffiths was a gifted scholar who corresponded with the foremost algae and seaweed experts of her time. In 1817 her reputation was so great that an eminent Swedish botanist (Carl Agardh) named a genus of red seaweeds Griffithsia in her honour.
Her great companion was Mary Wyatt who kept a pressed plant shop in Torquay. The two ladies co-operated in their collecting and produced two volumes of pressed and named seaweeds found in the neighbourhood of Torbay, called Algae Danmoniensis. Published in 1833 each contained 50 different species. Volumes 3 and 4 followed in subsequent years. Some of these rare books are now part of RAMM’s collection.
Amelia Griffiths continued to pursue her interests well into her 80s.