History of the BBS

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The Moss Exchange Club and the BBS

The BBS – or at least, The Moss Exchange Club upon which it was built – is almost certainly the oldest bryological society in the world. The Moss Exchange Club was founded by in 1896, predating by 2 years its American equivalent, the Sullivant Moss Society which went on to become the American Bryological and Lichenological Society.

Founder of the Moss Exchange Club in 1896

The Moss Exchange Club was formed at the instigation of an Irish clergyman, Rev. C H Waddell, with the main object of assisting members in building up collections of correctly named specimens. It started with 23 members, increasing to 60 just before the First World War. There were no meetings, and most contact between members was in the form of an annual exchanges of specimens. It was however instrumental in keeping interest in British mosses and liverworts alive during a period when they were largely ignored by universities, and greatly increasing knowledge about the distribution of British species.

At an early stage in the life of the MEC, it was decided to create a separate section for beginners, and this helped to encourage new bryologists in pursuit of bryological knowledge. As the years passed, the beginners became experts and the distinction between the 2 sections blurred. Eventually, in 1923, it was agreed to merge the 2 and the British Bryological Society was born, with 87 members of the MEC joining the new Society.

Membership of the Moss Exchange Club (1896-1922) and BBS (1923-2011), extracted from Mark Hill’s short history of the BBS.

Presidents, Secretaries and Honorary Members

Dr Philip Stanley has compiled the following lists of MEC and BBS Presidents and Secretaries since the MEC was founded, and a list of Honorary Members (expand this section for more details).

Much of this information comes from historical bulletins and journals, and Phil uses his Cumulative Index to extract the details. If you would like to know more, for example, to read about the election of a particular Honorary Member, you can use the index to search references and discover the article or membership list where the election was published. Most of the BBS bulletins and journals are now available online on this website, or from Taylor & Francis online.

MEC Officers

YEAR Secretary Distributo(e)r
1896 Waddell, C.H. Waddell, C.H.
1897 Waddell, C.H. Waddell, C.H. SECTION II: 1900 – 1922
1898 Waddell, C.H. Waddell, C.H.
1899 Waddell, C.H. Waddell, C.H. YEAR Secretary Distributo(e)r
1900 Waddell, C.H. Wheldon, J.A. 1900 Horrell, E.C. [Horrell,E.C.]
1901 Waddell, C.H. Wheldon, J.A. 1901 [Horrell, E.C.] [Horrell,E.C.]
1902 Waddell, C.H. ? Barker, T. 1902 [Horrell, E.C.] [Horrell,E.C.]
1903 Ingham, W. Barker, T. 1903 Jones, D.A. Duncan, J.B.
1904 Ingham, W. Meldrum, R.H. 1904 Jones, D.A. Duncan, J.B.
1905 Ingham, W. Meldrum, R.H. 1905 Jones, D.A. Burrell, W.H.
1906 Ingham, W. Jones, D.A. 1906 Jones, D.A. Burrell, W.H.
1907 Ingham, W. Cleminshaw, E. 1907 [Jones, D.A.] [Burrell, W.H.]
1908 Ingham, W. Cleminshaw, E. 1908 Jones, D.A. Sherrin, W.R.
1909 Ingham, W. Knight, H.H. 1909 [Jones, D.A.] [Sherrin, W.R.]
1910 Ingham, W. Knight, H.H. 1910 Jones, D.A. Travis, W.G.
1911 Ingham, W. Burrell, W.H. 1911 [Jones, D.A.] [Travis, W.G.]
1912 Ingham, W. Burrell, W.H. 1912 Jones, D.A. Savery, G.B.
1913 Ingham, W. Armitage, E. 1913 Jones, D.A. Savery, G.B.
1914 Ingham, W. Lillie, D. 1914 Jones, D.A. Savery, G.B.
1915 Ingham, W. Rhodes, P.G.M. 1915 Jones, D.A. Savery, G.B.
1916 Ingham, W. Rhodes, P.G.M. 1916 Jones, D.A. Savery, G.B.
1917 Ingham, W. Armitage, E. 1917 Jones, D.A. Savery, G.B.
1918 Ingham, W. Lillie, D. 1918 Jones, D.A. Rilstone, F.
1919 Ingham, W. Armitage, E. 1919 Jones, D.A. Rilstone, F.
1920 Ingham, W. Wilson, A. 1920 Jones, D.A. Rilstone, F.
1921 Ingham, W. Travis, W.G. 1921 Jones, D.A. Rilstone, F.
1922 Jones, D.A. & Armitage, E. Armitage, E. 1922 [Jones, D.A.] [Rilstone, F.]
[…] name not stated in Report but presumed on basis of previous or following year’s Report

BBS Officers

Year President Secretary
1923 Dixon, H.N. Jones, D.A.
1924 Dixon, H.N. Jones, D.A.
1925 Macvicar, S.M. Jones, D.A./
Miss E. Armitage
1926 Macvicar, S.M. Jones, D.A.
1927 Binstead, C.H. Jones, D.A.
1928 Binstead, C.H. Jones, D.A.
1929 Nicholson, W.E. Jones, D.A.
1930 Nicholson, W.E. Jones, D.A.
1931 Watson, W. Jones, D.A.
1932 Watson, W. Jones, D.A.
1933 Knight, H.H. Jones, D.A.
1934 Knight, H.H. Jones, D.A.
1935 Jones, D.A. Jones, D.A.
1936 Jones, D.A. Thompson, A.
1937 Duncan, J.B. Thompson, A.
1938 Armitage, E. Thompson, A.
1939 Armitage, E. Thompson, A.
1940 Armitage, E. Thompson, A.
1941 Armitage, E. Thompson, A.
1942 Armitage, E. Thompson, A.
1943 Armitage, E. Thompson, A.
1944 Armitage, E. Thompson, A.
1945 Armitage, E. (to 8/’45) Thompson, A.
1946 Sherrin, W.R. (from 8/’45) Thompson, A.
1947 Sherrin, W.R. Thompson, A.
1948 Thompson, A. Wallace, E.C.
1949 Thompson, A. Wallace, E.C.
1950 Richards, P.W. Wallace, E.C.
1951 Richards, P.W. Wallace, E.C.
1952 Scott, L. Wallace, E.C.
1953 Scott, L. Wallace, E.C.
1954 Jones, E.W. Wallace, E.C.
1955 Jones, E.W. Wallace, E.C.
1956 Trotter, L.B.C. Wallace, E.C.
1957 Trotter, L.B.C. Wallace, E.C.
1958 Sowter, F.A. Wallace, E.C.
1959 Sowter, F.A. Wallace, E.C.
1960 Lobley, E. Wallace, E.C.
1961 Lobley, E. Wallace, E.C.
1962 Warburg, E.F. Wallace, E.C.
1963 Warburg, E.F. Wallace, E.C.
1964 Watson, E.V. Wallace, E.C.
1965 Watson, E.V. Wallace, E.C.
1966 Appleyard, J. Wallace, E.C.
1967 Appleyard, J. Wallace, E.C.
1968 Peterken, J.H. Wallace, E.C.
1969 Peterken, J.H. Wallace, E.C.
1970 Pettifer, A.J. Dalby, D.H.
1971 Pettifer, A.J. Dalby, D.H.
1972 Wallace, E.C. Dalby, D.H.
1973 Wallace, E.C. Dalby, D.H.
1974 Crundwell, A.C. Perry, A.R.
1975 Crundwell, A.C. Perry, A.R.
1976 Paton, J. Perry, A.R.
1977 Paton, J. Perry, A.R.
1978 Richards, P.W. Perry, A.R.
1979 Richards, P.W. Perry, A.R.
1980 Greene, S.W. Perry, A.R.
1981 Greene, S.W. Perry, A.R.
1982 Whitehouse, H.L.K. Longton, R.E.
1983 Whitehouse, H.L.K. Longton, R.E.
1984 Proctor, M.C.F. Longton, R.E.
1985 Proctor, M.C.F. Longton, R.E.
1986 Bloom, G. Longton, R.E.
1987 Bloom, G. Longton, R.E.
1988 Wanstall, P.J. Longton, R.E.
1989 Wanstall, P.J. Newton, M.E.
1990 Hill, M.O. Newton, M.E.
1991 Hill, M.O. Newton, M.E.
1992 Duckett, J.G. Newton, M.E.
1993 Duckett, J.G. Newton, M.E.
1994 Longton, R.E. Newton, M.E.
1995 Longton, R.E. Newton, M.E.
1996 Perry, A.R. Newton, M.E.
1997 Perry, A.R. Newton, M.E.
1998 Clarke, G.C.S. Newton, M.E.
1999 Clarke, G.C.S. Newton, M.E.
2000 Blockeel, T.L. Walton, M.A.
2001 Blockeel, T.L. Walton, M.A.
2002 Long, D.G. Walton, M.A.
2003 Long, D.G. Walton, M.A.
2004 Preston, C.D. Walton, M.A.
2005 Preston, C.D. Walton, M.A.
2006 Edwards, S.R. Walton, M.A.
2007 Edwards, S.R. Walton, M.A.
2008 Sleath, J.D. Walton, M.A.
2009 Sleath, J.D. Walton, M.A.
2010 Holyoak, D.T. Carter, R.H.
2011 Holyoak, D.T. Carter, R.H.
2012 Bates, J.W. Carter, R.H.
2013 Bates, J.W. Carter, R.H.
2014 Rothero, G.P. Carter, R.H.
2015 Rothero, G.P. Carter, R.H.
2016 Hodgetts, N.G. Carter, R.H.
2017 Hodgetts, N.G. Carter, R.H.
2018 Godfrey, M.F. Carter, R.H.
2019 Godfrey, M.F. Carter, R.H.
2020 Burton, M.A.S. Scott, J.
2021 Burton, M.A.S. Scott, J.

Honorary members

Honorary Members are bryologists who have rendered outstanding service either to bryology or to the BBS. They are nominated by Council and elected at an Annual General Meeting. This list has been compiled with the help of Dr Phil Stanley, who extracted the information from membership lists and other articles printed in BBS bulletins, journals, Annual trustee reports and handwritten Honourable Secretary’s Minutes book. It includes all known BBS Honorary Members, and some Honorary Members of the MEC. The lists are provided in 2 sequences: name, and year elected.

By name By year
Honorary member Year elected Honorary member Year elected
Adams, K.J. 2015 Pearson, W.H. 1908
Allorge, V. 1959 Bagnall, J.E. 1909
Anderson, L.E. 1998 Ingham, W. 1921-22
Appleyard, J. 1980 Binstead, C.H. 1923
Armitage, E. 1944 Macvicar, S.M. 1923
Arnell, S. 1968 Loeske, L. 1926
Bagnall, J.E. 1909 Jameson, H.G. 1927
Bates, J.W. 2006 Evans, A.W. 1933
Binstead, C.H. 1923 Dixon, H.N. 1937
Blockeel, T.L. 2013 Armitage, E. 1944-45
Boros, A. 1967 Grout, A.J. 1944-45
Catcheside, D.G. 1981 Wilson, A. 1944-45
Clarke, G.C.S. 2005 Duncan, J.B. 1946
Crum, H.A. 1998 Hodgson, E.A. 1946
Crundwell, A.C. 1985 Sherrin, W.R. 1948
Dixon, H.N. 1937 Watson, W. 1948
Duckett, J.G. 2006 Rilstone, F. 1950
Duncan, U. 1980 Herzog, Th. 1952
Duncan, J.B. 1946 Müller, K. 1952
Evans, A.W. 1933 Thompson, A. 1952
Grolle, R. 1968 Lee, J.R. 1958
Grout, A.J. 1944 Allorge, V. 1959
Hattori, S. 1980 Trotter, L.B.C. 1959
Herzog, Th. 1952 Lid, J. 1962
Hill, M.O. 2000 Persson, H. 1962
Hodgson, E.A. 1946 Sowter, F.A. 1962
Ingham, W. 1921 Thomson, J.G. 1962
Iwatsuki, Z. 2000 Wigglesworth, G. 1963
Jameson, H.G. 1927 Boros, A. 1967
Jones, E.W 1973 Arnell, S. 1968
Lee, J.R. 1958 Grolle, R. 1968
Lid, J. 1962 Richards, P.W. 1970
Lobley, E.M. 1973 Jones, E.W 1973
Loeske, L. 1926 Lobley, E.M. 1973
Long, D.G. 2013 Savicz-Ljubitzkaya, L.I. 1973
Macvicar, S.M. 1923 Smirnova, Z.N. 1973
Müller, K. 1952 Wallace, E.C. 1974
Newton, M.E. 2003 Steere, W. 1978
Nyholm, E. 1982 Watson, E.V. 1979
O’Shea, B. 2011 Appleyard, J. 1980
Paton, J.A. 1987 Duncan, U. 1980
Pearson, W.H. 1908 Hattori, S. 1980
Perry, A.R. 2002 Catcheside, D.G. 1981
Persson, H. 1962 Nyholm, E. 1982
Preston, C.D. 2017 Stone, I.G. 1982
Proctor, M.C.F. 1992 Crundwell, A.C. 1985
Richards, P.W. 1970 Scott, L. 1985
Rilstone, F. 1950 Størmer, P. 1985
Rose, F. 1998 Paton, J.A. 1987
Rothero, G.P. 2021 Schuster, R.M. 1987
Savicz-Ljubitzkaya, L.I. 1973 Whitehouse, H.L.K. 1988
Schuster, R.M. 1987 Proctor, M.C.F. 1992
Scott, L. 1985 Smith, A.J.E. 1994
Sherrin, W.R. 1948 Anderson, L.E. 1998
Smirnova, Z.N. 1973 Crum, H.A. 1998
Smith, A.J.E. 1994 Rose, F. 1998
Sowter, F.A. 1962 Hill, M.O. 2000
Stanley, P.E. 2015 Iwatsuki, Z. 2000
Steere, W. 1978 Perry, A.R. 2002
Stone, I.G. 1982 Newton, M.E. 2003
Størmer, P. 1985 Clarke, G.C.S. 2005
Thompson, A. 1952 Bates, J.W. 2006
Thomson, J.G. 1962 Duckett, J.G. 2006
Trotter, L.B.C. 1959 Vana, J. 2006
Vana, J. 2006 O’Shea, B. 2011
Wallace, E.C. 1974 Blockeel, T.L. 2013
Watson, E.V. 1979 Long, D.G. 2013
Watson, W. 1948 Adams, K.J. 2015
Whitehouse, H.L.K. 1988 Stanley, P.E. 2015
Wigglesworth, G. 1963 Preston, C.D. 2017
Wilson, A. 1944 Rothero, G.P. 2021

Further reading

There are several accounts of the history of the MEC and the BBS if you would like to find out more.

The first – and very factual – account was published in 1944 by Miss Eleonora Armitage, one of the original members of the MEC (and the only woman) and a leading light of the new British Bryological Society. She summarises, for each year from 1896 to 1938, the activities of the society. Photo: 1935, Dadnor, Herefordshire

Miss Eleonora Armitage: History of MEC and BBS

A later account devoted to the MEC and with the advantage of historical perspective, was published in 1979 by W.D. Foster and makes fascinating reading.

W.D. Foster: History of the MEC

To mark the Society’s 60th anniversary in 1983, the BBS published a booklet entitled ‘The British Bryological Society 1923-1983’, written by P.W. Richards.

P.W. Richards: The British Bryological Society

The most recent update to the history of the Society was written by Mark Hill in 2011.

M.O. Hill: A short history of the BBS

During recent years also, Mark Lawley has done a lot of research into the members of the MEC (1896 – 1923) and the BBS (1923 – 1945) and has made his findings available via the download link below. You can see some of the bryologists Mark has been researching in the photo gallery below.

This is a work in progress, and Mark would be very keen to hear from anyone who has more information – anecdotal or otherwise – on past bryologists’ lives and work. You can contact him at mrbryology@gmail.com

Mark Lawley: Members of the MEC and the BBS