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Biographical entry De Vis, Charles Walter (1829 - 1915)

9 May 1829
Birmingham, England
30 April 1915
Toowong, Queensland, Australia
Zoologist, Cleric and Ornithologist


Charles De Vis was Curator of the Queensland Museum 1882-1905 but remained on the staff as consulting scientist until 1912. He gave up the church early in his career to devote himself to science, first in England and later in Australia.


Born Charles Devis, 9 May, 1829, Birmingham, England, adopting the spelling 'De Vis' about 1882. Died Brisbane, 30 April 1915. Educated University of Cambridge (BA 1851, MA 1884). Rector of Brecon, Somersetshire; Curator of Queen's Park Museum, Manchester. Arrived Australia 1870 and settled in the Rockhampton area where he was School of Arts librarian; contributed articles to the Queenslander 1880-81, using the nom-de-plume 'Thickthorn'; Curator Queensland Museum 1885-1905, consultant 1905-12. Did important early work on fossil birds, working on specimens from the Darling Downs in Queensland and Cooper Creek in South Australia (some of which were collected by J.W. Gregory). Many of the 'new' taxa discovered by de Vis have been synonymised by the later work of Patricia Vickers Rich and Gerard van Tets (qq.v.), but his work, according to Rich, 'painted the first pictures of the fossil birds of Central Australia, most of which were of Quaternary age'. Founding member, Royal Society of Queensland 1884, president 1888-89; Foundation member Australasian Ornithologists' Union 1901 and first Vice-President.


Education - Bachelor of Arts (BA) completed at the University of Cambridge, UK
Life event - Arrived in Australia
c. 1871 - c
Career position - School of Arts Librarian in Rockhampton, Queensland
c. 1882
Life event - Changed name from Devis to De Vis
Career position - Founding member of the Royal Society of Queensland
Education - Master of Arts (MA) completed at the University of Cambridge
1885 - 1905
Career position - Curator of the Queensland Museum
1888 - 1889
Career position - President of the Royal Society of Queensland
Career position - Foundation member Australasian Ornithologists' Union and first Vice-President
1905 - 1912
Career position - Consultant to the Queensland Museum

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

Queensland Museum Library

  • Charles Walter De Vis - Records, 1882 - 1912; Queensland Museum Library. Details

Published resources

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Ingram, Glen, 'The Writings of Thickthorn', Wildlife Australia, 23 (1) (1986), 6-7. Details
  • Mack, George, 'The Queensland Museum, 1855-1955', Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 13 (2) (1956), 107-24. Details
  • Whitley, G., 'Some Founders of Australian Fish Science', Australian Museum Magazine, 9 (1948). Details


See also

  • Robin, Libby, The Flight of the Emu: a Hundred Years of Australian Ornithology 1901-2001 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2001), 492 pp. Details
  • Williams, David, Wuester, Wolfgang and Fry, Bryan Grieg, 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Australian Snake Taxonomists and a history of the Taxonomy of Australia's Venomous Snakes ', Toxicon, 48 (7) (2009), 919-930 . Details

McCarthy, G.J. & Rosanne Walker