father and son, both named "John Atkinson" lived in Goldhanger...

The Revd John Atkinson

The Revd John Atkinson (1787-1828) was a Goldhanger curate and was also a recognised ornithologist in his day. A short biography of him is included at the beginning of Miller Christy's  Birds of Essex, published in 1890, and early volumes of the Zoologist journal have articles and letters by him...

Atkinson, Rev. John - by Miller Christy.jpg    

Both of these books can now be read on-line. See... Miller Christy & Searching for local history on the web

The following words appeared in The early history of the Church Missionary Society for Africa and the East written by Charles Hole in 1814, which suggest he was involved with missionary societies and moved to Wethersfield the year his son was born...

Atkinson, John, Curate - Church Missionary Society 1814.jpg

A person by the name of John Atkinson with the same birth and death dates (1787-1828) wrote: "Ornithology, with a reference to the anatomy and physiology of birds" published in 1820, but this author is listed as "a member of the Royal College of Surgeons" and was born and died in Leeds, so it would seem to be an incredible coincidence.

The following is taken from Natural History Biographies at... http://www.natstand.org.uk

William Orde Newnham (1825 - 1893) was born in Farnham, Surrey, to the noted surgeon William Newnham and his wife Caroline Atkinson. His two younger brothers, Christopher Atkinson Newnham and Philip Hankinson Newnham, shared his interest in natural history with Christopher collecting plants and both Christopher and Philip also being lepidopterists. Their early interest in natural history appears to have been inherited from their mother's side of the family, with their grandfather Rev. Christopher Atkinson and an uncle, Rev. John Atkinson, having an interest in ornithology; the former also showing talent as an illustrator. Cousin Rev. John Christopher Atkinson was to become the noted "Canon Atkinson" of Danby, Yorkshire, a well-known and widely published antiquarian and naturalist.

The Revd John Atkinson's son is probably the best known member of this family of ornithologists and authors...

The Revd John Christopher Atkinson

John Christopher Atkinson (1814 - 1900), author and antiquary, was born on 9 May 1814 in Goldhanger, and was the son of John Atkinson, a Goldhanger curate, and his wife, Martha, daughter of Richard Causten of Mundon Hall. He was educated at Kelvedon in Essex, and was a sizar to St John's College, Cambridge, on 2 May 1834; he graduated BA in 1838. He was ordained deacon in 1841 as curate of Brockhampton in Herefordshire, and a priest in 1842. He was rector of Danby in the North Riding of Yorkshire until his death. The Revd Atkinson was an energetic antiquary of wide interests who, in addition to his historical work, published works on folklore, ornithology, and dialect studies, as well as writing books for children. In 1872 he embarked on a History of Cleveland, which remained unfinished but was reconstructed from his surviving notes and published in 1982. He also excavated between 80 and 100 barrows in Cleveland. His interest in barrows undoubtedly started in his youth when he live in Essex.


His most famous work, Forty Years in a Moorland Parish (1891) remains a mine of historical information and a classic account of a rural ministry in Victorian England, and has been reprinted several times. In 1887 he received the honorary degree of DCL from Durham University, and in 1891 he was installed in the prebend of Holme in York Minster.


The following paragraphs, written about Revd Atkinson by Miller Christy in 1890 in his book Birds of Essex, are of particular local interest. . .

. . .The days of his boyhood were spent in the district around Goldhanger, Great Wigborough, Little Wigborough, Peldon, Tollesbury, Mersea, &c., and he thus had unrivalled facilities for becoming intimately acquainted with the birds frequenting that part of the Essex coast, opportunities of which he made excellent use. He also resided in, or by means of visits became familiar with, Bardfield, Finchingfield, Gosfield, Colchester, Maldon, and other parts of Essex. Many notes of his on the ornithology of our coast may be found in the early volumes of the Zoologist. In short, the first twenty-four years of Mr. Atkinson's life, allowing for university residence, were spent in Essex.

He has written numerous popular works on Natural History, including: The Nests and Eggs of British Birds , a charming little book, which has gone through several editions, and is still one of the most popular works on ornithology in the English language; few, if any, books have in their day done more to popularise that science. A threepenny edition of it appeared in 1885. It contains numerous reminiscences of his early days, spent among the birds on the Essex saltings.

The town of Elmdon, described in Walks and Talks possesses considerable local interest for Essex people, although it has no connection with the Essex village of that name. In writing the book, Mr. Atkinson says in a letter to me: "I drew largely on my recollections of Kelvedon and of my school life and exploits there, and some of the scenery and places described, such as Docwra's Mill, Watery Lane, and the Stream, certainly had a Kelvedon origin, as also had the twelve daily coaches up to London, the flocks of geese along the roads, the school ghost, the coaches full, inside and out, a little before Christmas, with game, turkeys, &c., and many other scenes and incidents all through the book; but the moorland, and all that pertains thereto - water-ouzels, trout-fishing, golden plover's nests, and the like - have no connection whatever with Kelvedon." Chapter XIX, too, contains a graphic account of a walk on the Essex Marshes, and of a day's wild-fowl shooting on the Main, round the Wigboroughs and Mersea . .

The full biography can be read in Birds of Essex at... http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/50449#page/22

John Christopher Atkinson wrote many books relating to Yorkshire. Here are some with Essex connections...

britishbirdsegg.JPG    Atk1    Atk4

Atk2   Atk3

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