William Hincks

(c. 1793—1871) Unitarian minister and naturalist

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(1794–1871), naturalist, clergyman. Before emigrating to Canada West from Ireland in 1853 at age 59, Hincks edited a Unitarian journal in London and taught natural history. Due to the influence of his younger brother, Francis Hincks, then premier, he secured a professorship at the new University College (later University of Toronto) over candidates including T. H. Huxley. A passionate botanist, Hincks discovered two rare ferns in the Owen Sound area in 1857. He was an editor of the Canadian Journal of Industry, Science and Art, for which he wrote many papers and reviews, and was president of the Canadian Institute for two years. He began the plant and animal collections of the Royal Ontario Museum and amassed many stuffed birds. To counter the new theory of Darwinian evolution, he promoted his own revision of a discredited taxonomic system called quinarianism, which arranged all plants and animals into groups of five in a circle. Although Hincks was industrious, kindly, and professionally ambitious, his work had little impact on colleagues who conducted field research from a biogeographical perspective.

From The Oxford Companion to Canadian History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: History of the Americas.

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