Oldfield Thomas

Not to be confused with Thomas Oldfield.
Oldfield Thomas

Painting by Walter Stoneman
Born Michael Rogers Oldfield Thomas
21 February 1858
Millbrook, Bedfordshire, England
Died 16 June 1929(1929-06-16) (aged 71)
Nationality British
Fields Zoology
Institutions Natural History Museum
Known for Mammalogy
Author abbrev. (zoology) Thomas

Michael Rogers Oldfield Thomas FRS FZS (21 February 1858 – 16 June 1929) was a British zoologist.[1][2][3]

Thomas worked at the Natural History Museum on mammals, describing about 2,000 new species and subspecies for the first time. He was appointed to the Museum Secretary's office in 1876, transferring to the Zoological Department in 1878. In 1891 Thomas married Mary Kane, daughter of Sir Andrew Clark, heiress to a small fortune, which gave him the finances to hire mammal collectors and present their specimens to the museum. He also did field work himself in western Europe and South America. His wife shared his interest in natural history, and accompanied him on collecting trips.[2] In 1896 when William Henry Flower took control of the department he hired Richard Lydekker to rearrange the exhibitions,[4] allowing Thomas to concentrate on these new specimens.[5][6] Officially retired from the museum in 1923, he continued his work without interruption. He died by shooting himself with a handgun while sitting at his museum desk[7] in 1929, aged 71, about a year after the death of his wife, "a severe blow from which he never recovered".[2]


  1. "Thomas, Oldfield". Who's Who. 59. A & C Black. 1907. p. 1737.
  2. 1 2 3 Haddon, Alfred Cort (1929). "MR. M. R. Oldfield Thomas, F.R.S". Nature. 124 (3116): 101–102. doi:10.1038/124101a0. ISSN 0028-0836.
  3. Haddon, Albert Cort (9 May 1901). "M. R. Oldfield Thomas". Nature. 64 (1645): 37–38. doi:10.1038/064038a0.
  4. The Natural History Museum at South Kensington, William T. Stearn ISBN 0-434-73600-7
  5. Oldfield Thomas, Catalogue of the Marsupialia and Monotremata in the Collection of the British Museum (Natural History) Dept of Zoology (1888), Taylor and Francis, London Catalogue of the Marsupialia... full text retrieved 21 March 2007
  6. Oldfield Thomas F. R. S., The History of the Collections Contained in the Natural History Departments of the British Museum Vol. II, Separate Historical accounts of the Historical Collections included in the Department of Zoology, I. Mammals,(1906) William Clowes and Sons Ltd. London. retrieved 21 March 2007 The History of the Collections..." full text
  7. Flannery, T. (6 November 2012). Among the Islands: Adventures in the Pacific. Grove/Atlantic, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-8021-9404-6. OCLC 793838823. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
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