John Hancock (1808-1890)


John Hancock was born in Newcastle on the 24th of February 1808. As well as being a naturalist, ornithologist, and landscape architect he is considered to be the "father of modern taxidermy". Hancock edited the 1847 posthumous edition of Thomas Bewick's Birds. In 1874 Hancock's Catalogue of the Birds of Northumberland and Durham was published. John and his brother Albany helped found the Hancock Museum in Newcastle, which includes many specimens from the brother's collections. John Hancock also helped plan the layout of the Town Moor in Newcastle.

John Hancock (24 February 1808 – 11 October 1890) was a British naturalist, ornithologist, taxidermist and landscape architect. He is considered the father of modern taxidermy. He introduced the style of dramatic preparation in taxidermy. One of his famous works "Struggle with the quarry" depicted a falcon attacking a heron which held an eel. This taxidermy mount was an attraction at the 1851 Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London.

Hancock was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and educated at The Royal Grammar School. He was a brother of the naturalist Albany Hancock. The brothers lived with their sister, Mary Jane, at 4 St. Mary’s Terrace, Newcastle, now part of a listed terrace at 14–20 Great North Road. His father was also a John Hancock and he ran a saddle and hardware business. He may have trained in taxidermy under Richard Wingate, a neighbour of Thomas Bewick. Hancock was a mentor and tutor to the celebrated ornithologist and bird painter, Allan Brooks.

In 1874, Hancock published his Catalogue of the Birds of Northumberland and Durham.

Hancock edited Thomas Bewick's 1847 edition of Birds. In 1868 he planned a layout for Newcastle Town Moor, which was only partly realised. In 1875 he was asked to prepare a plan for Saltwell Park, but declined due to pressure of work.

The Hancock Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne is named after the Hancock brothers, both of whom took an instrumental part in getting the museum built. The museum contains many specimens from their collections.

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John Hancock (1808- 11 October 1890)
- Public domain photo c/o Wikimedia Commons.

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Simon Cotterill
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Portrait of John Hancock in his Studio by H H Emmerson c1890.
- "Portrait of John Hancock in his Studio by H H Emmerson c1890. The original is in the collection of the Natural History Society of Northumbria, Great North Museum:Hancock.... The ...

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Simon Cotterill
from Newcastle libraries (flickr)
Plan of proposed public park on the Town Moor & Castle Leazes, 1869

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Great North Museum: Hancock
  Co-Curate Page
Great North Museum: Hancock
- Overview About the Museum Map Street View The museum was established in 1884 to house the growing collections of the Natural History Society of Northumbria. It was named after John ...
Natural History Society of Northumbria
  Co-Curate Page
Natural History Society of Northumbria
- Overview About the Society The Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN) was established on the 19th of August 1829, and is one of the oldest natural history societies in the UK. The ...
Hancock Street, Newcastle
  Co-Curate Page
Hancock Street, Newcastle
- Overview Map Street View Hancock Street is a minor road in Newcastle city centre, which runs from Sandyford Road up to the Great North Road / Jesmond Road West (no ...
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Blue plaque re Albany & John Hancock, St. Mary's Terrace, NE1

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