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Pytilia melba jessei Shelley, 1903 (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Just a start for discussion.

OD of Pytilia melba jessei Shelley, 1903 here.

The Eponym Dictionary of Birds claims:

William Jesse Sr (1809–?1906) was a British zoologist. When the original nominee, Captain Bevan, fell ill, Jesse was the zoologist sent on the Abyssinian Expedition (1868) because of his experience collecting in South America. Otto Finsch (q.v.) wrote up the bird collection (1870) 'with notes by the collector William Jesse'.

OK with last sentence On a collection of Birds from North‐Eastern Abyssinia and the Bogos Country. So I can go with it. But when did he die as 1906 is in question markes. Here and here a letter from him. I have no clue if born 1809 and/or where this date derived from.


Well-known member
William Jesse (I)
07/07/1809 (7 Jul 1809) All Saints,West Bromwich,Stafford
01/02/1871 (1 Feb 1871) Ingatestone Essex

Magistrate formerly Captain in 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot

William Jesse (II)
BIRTH 7 JAN 1838 • Ireland (during his father's service)
DEATH 13 DECEMBER 1907 • Tavistock, Devonshire

Gentleman, perhaps sometime in 75th Regiment of Foot during the Mutiny

William Jesse (III)
BIRTH 7 SEPT 1870 • Ingatestone, Essex, England
DEATH 6 DEC 1945 • Middlesex, England

Possibly a Zoologist La Martiniere Colledge Lucknow but not relevant.

It seems to me unlikely that 50 year old Wm Jesse (I) was the Abyssinian explorer. Much more likely his 30 year old (war-hardened) son.

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Björn Bergenholtz

... also known as "Calalp"
Just an observation ... (with nothing much to add)

Re. Shelley's OD (see link in #1) of "Pytelia jessei, n. subsp."

A binomen, for a new subspecies!?

Odd (at least in today's view).

It seems to me unlikely that 50 year old Wm Jesse (I) was the Abyssinian explorer. ...
Paul, to me, at first, the most unlikely part of "50 year old Wm Jesse (I) ..." is the Math. ;)

That is, of course if he, "William Jesse (I)", truly was born in "1809", with the Types of "Pytelia jessei" collected in late July 1868, wouldn't he, at that point, have been closer to 60!? Typo?

Either way; doesn't this makes him an even less likely candidate, taking part in the hardships of an Abyssinian Expedition?

However, also note that the piece; On a collection of Birds from North-Eastern Abyssinia and the Bogos Country, in Transactions of the Zoological Society of London VII, Part 4 (1870), by Otto Finsch, "With notes by the collector, WILLIAM JESSE, C.M.Z.S, Zoologist to the Abyssinian Expedition" (link in #1) ... also incl. a "new" Lark; "Alæmon jessei" (in text, on p.198, + its OD, on pp.273-274).

Good luck guys, in finding out who the dedicatee truly was.


PS. Other possible clues for "Jesse (W.)", here.
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Well-known member
Well it seems William (I) was not an ornithologist

"Captain William Jesse was the author of Notes of a Half-Pay in Search of Health: or Russia, Circassia, and the Crimea in I839-40 (London: James Madden and Co., 1841), and the translator of an unpublished manuscript in French by J.P. Ferrier, 'History of the Afghans' (1858). He met Beau Brummell at an evening party in, Caen in February 1832 and subsequently wrote The Life of George Brummell Esq., commonly called Beau Brummell, 2 vols. (London: Saunders and Otley, 1844), I, 334".

Thus I am confident it is William (II) that is "our man". His son William (III) also an ornithologist was father to William (IV) born in Lucknow in 1895.

William Jesse (IV)
BIRTH 14 JUL 1895 • Bengal, India
DEATH 18 JAN 1974 • Torbay

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Björn Bergenholtz

... also known as "Calalp"
Re. "our guy", and "... his experience collecting in South America" (as claimed by The Eponym Dictionary of Birds, as of post #1), is verified in this piece (from The Zoologist, August, 1869), telling us that "William Jesse" had "considerable experience in zoological collecting in South America", prior to the Abyssinian Expedition.

But, Paul, how does the following text (from The Medical Times and Gazette, Vol. I, "for 1868") match up with your findings and conclusions? It's clearly about the same guy [my blue]:

Zoology and archæology in the British expedition to Abbysinia are not to be represented by Lietenant Beavan and Mr. Emanuel Deutsch. The former is prevented by illness, and the Council of the Zoological Society have nominated in his place Mr. William Jesse, of Maisonette, Ingatestone, Essex; ...

[here, Right column]​

The "Ingatestone, Essex" part fits the Death location of "William Jesse (I)", in your post #3 ... ?

Was his Son, "William Jesse (II)" possibly living there as well? In about those years? If born in 1838 he would have been a full-grown man in the late 1860's. Wouldn't he have left his Parents by then? If not, of course, he could have been just crashing/staying there, temporarily, between expeditions, or was he simply raised there, and as such "of Maisonette, Ingatestone, Essex"?

Just curious, only trying to make sense of the pieces of the puzzle.



Well-known member
Yes this is the same family in Burkes.

So William (I) was born 27 March 1809.

Burkes shows us that William (I) was son of Vicar William (-1) who was son of Vicar William (-2) and he was son of Vicar William (-3). I am betting William (IV) had a son William (V) who is still alive..:)

"Bird-life: Being a History of the Bird, Its Structure, and Habits" was published in 1874 by William (II) the CMZS.

And also yes the Lucknow bird papers are almost certainly by William (III).


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