Percival George Thompson (1866-1953) Essex Naturalist and Architect
Percival George Thompson was born on 19th August 1866, at 8 Rainsford Place, Rotherhithe, Surrey. He died on 7th April 1953 at “The First House” Riverwoods, Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He was buried on 11th April in plot 1369 at Loughton Cemetery, Essex. His obituarist Professor Frank W. Jane recorded Thompson as having a “somewhat austere manner and occasional petulant little outbursts [which] were the thinnest of veneers covering a genial and kindly character”. Jane added that “He was the most helpful and loyal of colleagues”. In 1871 he was living in Finsbury; by 1881 he was living in Bow. Middlesex and he had moved to Loughton by 1901. For several years he lived at “Overdale” 62 The Uplands, Loughton, Essex. The cause of his death, aged 86, was certified as anaemia, renal failure and chronic nephritis.
His father was John Julian Thompson (1816-1891), a shipwright and boat builder. Percy’s mother, Louisa Cohen Thompson (formerly Neale), was born about 1818. She was still alive in 1891, aged 73. Percy had at least one older brother and six older sisters. Percy George Thompson married Annie Maria Scourfield (1865-1952) on 30th July 1887 at St. Mary’s, Stratford le Bow, Middlesex. They were married for 64 years. They had two children Bruce Julian Thompson (1892-1895) and Doris May Newbury (nee Thompson) (1897-1973).
Percy George Thompson pursued a career as an architect. In 1881, aged 14, he was a clerk to an architect. By 1891 he was an architect’s assistant. He practised as an architect until he reached the age of 60. His wife in 1901 was a Draper Shopkeeper at 184 High Road, Loughton, Essex. Percy Thompson was married according to the rites of the Church of England. In 1946 he wrote a 13 page booklet entitled The Story of the Parish Church of Loughton, Essex. In his will dated 31st January 1952 he left £200 to St. John the Baptist’s Church, Loughton. His main geographical connections were with London and the Home Counties, especially Essex. He was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society on 31st March 1918. Percy Thompson joined the Essex Field Club in 1906 and his wife took membership in 1911. She was an enthusiastic member of the Club and accompanied her husband to meetings. Percy rapidly took on responsibilities in the Club. In 1909 he became Field Meetings Secretary. He shared this post with L.S. Harley from 1931-1934. He served as Honorary Acting Secretary from 1917 and Honorary Secretary from 1922. Thompson resigned from the post of Honorary Secretary on 26th March 1949. Percy Thompson was Curator of the Club’s Stratford Museum from 1917-1948. He was also Curator of Queen Elizabeth’s Lodge Museum, Chingford from 1917-1948. He was assisted at Chingford from 1926-1936 by Miss Vera Oxley and after 1947 by Mr. J. Ross. From 1919-1946 he edited the Essex Naturalist. The journal reached a high standard under his editorship. He relinquished editorship of the Essex Naturalist on 30th March 1946 following completion of Volume 27. He also acted as Treasurer during the 1939-1945 War. Thompson was made an honorary member on 31st March 1951 after he had retired from active participation in the Club’s affairs. He was a member of the Club for 47 years. Thompson was an enthusiastic naturalist. He had extensive knowledge of molluscs, British beetles, British lichens, British mosses, birds and their pellets, insects, flowering plants and rotifers. He also had a life long interest in geology. Thompson learned German to be able to read scientific papers. He later became interested in archaeology, antiquities and local history. His wide knowledge of animals and plants, geology and antiquities and of books, coupled with his love of Essex made him an ideal curator for a local museum primarily concerned with that county. He acquired a large library for the museum and a fine pictorial survey of Essex including photographs, pictures, prints and maps. He also compiled 4 volumes of notes on the history and topography of Loughton. These are held in the Guildhall Reference Library London (Ms 06909). Thompson was Chairman of the Loughton Urban District Council from 1918-1920. Perhaps his main legacy today, apart from the objects he acquired and accessioned for the museum, is his published record. Between 1892 and 1950 he penned more than 125 articles covering an incredibly wide range of subjects. They mainly appeared as short notes in the Essex Naturalist.
F.W. Jane 1954. Obituary Percy George Thompson 1866-1953. Essex Naturalist Vol. 29(3) pp. 211-212.
L.S.Harley. 1980. The Essex Field Club- the first hundred years. Essex Naturalist. Number 5. 21 pages. ISBN 0 905637 10 0.
Wealth at Death: £4,591. 49p