Francis William Locke Ross (1793-1860)
Francis William Locke Ross’s father died at sea in 1794 when his son was just a year old. Despite these tragic circumstances young Francis followed the family tradition. After serving as a Royal Navy officer he retired in 1830 to live at Broadway House in Topsham, Devon.
He devoted the rest of his life to collecting and the study of natural history. To this end he created his own museum with specimens from around the world. It reflected his broad interests in ethnography and archaeology, as well as some rare and valuable specimens of birds, shells and geology.
One of his most significant specimens was a great black-headed gull (Larus ichthyaetus Pallas). This bird, previously unrecorded in the British Isles, was seen in spring 1859. William Pine, who was aware of Ross’ interest in seagulls, then promptly shot it! It was later left to RAMM along with much of the rest of the Ross collection.
Ross died at home on Christmas Day 1860. He was a kind, humble man. One obituary stated “but for which modesty he would have made a name more extendedly known among men of science.”