Detail from the Sea Birds' Preservation Bill, 1869

The Association for the Protection of Sea-Birds

Background to the Collection

During the 1860s the Victorian obsession with egg collecting and shooting wild animals, particularly birds, reached a peak. A noted black spot for the slaughter of sea birds for 'sport' was the area around Bempton and Flamborough on the Yorkshire coast. Concern amongst ornithologists led Rev. Henry Frederick Barnes-Lawrence, who was then vicar of the Priory Church of Bridlington, to call a meeting of local clergy and naturalists in 1868 to consider ways of stopping the practice. This led to the formation of the Association for the Protection of Sea-Birds.

Leading members and supporters included local landowners, the Archbishop of York, and several local Members of Parliament. One of these, Christopher Sykes MP, of Brantingham Thorpe, introduced a parliamentary bill which had the support of many scientific organisations. In June 1869 this reached the Statute Book as the Sea Birds Preservation Act, providing protection for 35 species by introducing a closed season running annually from 1 April to 1 August. Following this early success the Association for the Protection of Sea-Birds was quickly wound up.

What is in the collection?

Material in this collection covers the period 1834-2000. Records include letters, publicity material and poems.

Records relate to the work of the association, and include references to Barnes-Lawrence, Reverend F.O. Morris, Alfred Newton, John Cordeaux, Frank Buckland, Christopher Sykes and Richard Wilton.

What areas of research would the collection support?

This collection could be used to produce a written history of the association. It could also be used within larger studies of animal rights and conservation during the 19th century. The material could further be used in discussions of Victorian attitudes to natural history and collecting.

Are there any access issues?

There are no access issues associated with this collection and it will be made available to any accredited reader.

Is there any related material?

Related material can be found in the following collections:

  • Papers of John Cordeaux [U DCR]

  • Papers of F.O. and M.C.F. Morris [U DX21 and U DP180] 

Please also see our Politics and Campaigning page for further guidance on our political collections.

See the online catalogue description