F. T. Mott

(active 1872 - 1899)

Possibly the most curious book in the Leicester Secular Society Library is Corona: The Bright Side of the Universe by F. T. Mott. It is an expression of a creationist worldview interspersed with original poems by the author. Some of its ideas cast in terms of waves seemed to me to anticipate quantum mechanics though it was written I think in the 1880s. Intrigued by this book I tried to find out more about the author, who was a local Leicestershire man. The following notes are the very limited results of my research.

CUFOS The J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies

This was presumably the source of the following letter to Nature, but I can no longer find it there:

"About 11:30 pm on the night of June 13, the sky being partially covered with fleecy clouds slowly drifting from the south-west, so that the full moon was frequently obscured, a shooting-star appeared in the north, at an elevation of about 50º to 60º, and descended obliquely towards the east. It was as bright as a star of the first magnitude, and was visible during a slightly zigzag flight of some 30º, leaving no trail. But the remarkable thing was that the sky in that quarter was pretty closely covered with the slowly-moving fleecy clouds, so that no fixed stars were visible. The meteor, therefore, must have been below the clouds, at least in the latter part of its course." [F. T. Mott, Birstal Hill, Leicester. June 20, 1880 NATURE (Vol. 40, p. 174)]

Whild Associates Ecological Consultants Grasswrack Pondweed report

9: Grand Union Canal: the earliest records for the Leicester area are from the River Soar (e.g. F.T. Mott, 1884), but the only current site is the Grand Union Canal (SP59 & SK50, v.c. 55), where it was first recorded in 1890 by E.F. Cooper. Grasswrack Pondweed grows along a couple of kilometres of this canal, along with a host of other uncommon aquatics. An important feature of this site is the width of the canal, which means that the wash from the boats is dissipated without causing too much disturbance to the sediment or erosion of the banks."

Science Magazine 15 June 1883, Contents List

ORGANIC COLOR. F. T. Mott. Science 16 June 1893: 323-325. PDF [requires subscription]

Science Magazine 4 August 1893, Contents List

Sound and Color. F. T. Mott. Science 4 August 1893: 69. PDF [requires subscription]

Bookshop 56 Charings Cross Road

MOTT, F. T. THE BENSCLIFF BALLADS AND OTHER POEMS. Gay And Bird, London, 1899. First Edition. Hardback. No Dustjacket. 8vo. Green grained cloth lettered dark green. pp ix, 118. Uncut. Signed presentation from the author: 'H. M. Riley. A memento of good service at the Central Free Library. F. T. Mott, Chairman of Committee Sept 1899.' Benscliff is in the Charnwood Forest where Mr Mott and his friends met for 'High Talk.' Poetry. Minor even soiling, endpapers browned, overall sound VG. A22064 £30

I appear to have first found the following report in a couple of websites that no longer exist. These were Wilson's Almanac (.com) and Bullfinch/English Atheist. However it is still in: Sacred Texts Mythical Monsters by Charles Gould 1886

Chapter IX. The Sea Serpent

The last notice of its appearance in British waters is extracted from Nature, as follows:— Believing it to be desirable that every well-authenticated observation indicating the existence of large sea-serpents should be permanently registered, I send you the following particulars:—

"1882 Llandudno, Wales: "About three P.M. on Sunday, September 3, 1882, a party of gentlemen and ladies were standing at the northern extremity of Llandudno pier, looking towards the open sea, when an unusual object was observed in the water near to the Little Orme's Head, travelling rapidly westwards towards the Great Orme. It appeared to be just outside the mouth of the bay, and would therefore be about a mile distant from the observers. It was watched for about two minutes, and in that interval it traversed about half the width of the bay, and then suddenly disappeared. The bay is two miles wide, and therefore the object, whatever it was, must have travelled at the rate of thirty miles an hour. It is estimated to have been fully as long as a large steamer, say two hundred feet; the rapidity of its motion was particularly remarked as being greater than that of any ordinary vessel. The colour appeared to be black, and the motion either corkscrew-like or snake-like, with vertical undulations. Three of the observers have since made sketches from memory, quite independently, of the impression left on their minds, and on comparing these sketches, which slightly varied, they have agreed to sanction the accompanying outline as representing as nearly as possible the object which they saw. The party consisted of W. Barfoot, J.P., of Leicester, F. J. Marlow, solicitor, of Manchester, Mrs. Marlow, and several others. They discard the theories of birds or porpoises as not accounting for this particular phenomenon." [F. T. MOTT, Birstall Hill, Leicester, January 16th, 1883.]

The Atlantic (Magazine) July 1893 article by Edward S. Morse: "If Public Libraries why not Public Museums?"

In a committee’s report made to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, upon the Provincial Museums of the United Kingdom, it is stated : — “The special objects of a free rate-supported museum in a provincial town should be : —
“(1.) To contribute its share to the general scientific statistics of the country by collecting and preserving specimens of the natural and artificial productions of the district in which it is situated.
“(2.) To procure such other specimens as may be desirable for illustrating the general principles of science, and the relations of the locality to the rest of the world.
“(3.) To receive and preserve local collections or single specimens having any scientific value which the possessors may desire to devote to public use.
“(4.) So to arrange and display the specimens collected as to afford the greatest amount of popular instruction consistent with their safe preservation and accessibility as objects of scientific study.
“(5.) To render special assistance to local students and teachers of science.” F. T. Mott, Esq., a member of the above-mentioned committee, in a paper read before the Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society, on the Development of Museums as Public Educators, says — “Museums, free libraries, and art galleries have this in common: that they are each expected to fulfill two purposes which are somewhat incongruous, and require to be pursued by different methods and with different appliances. Each of these institutions is expected to minister to the wants both of trained students and of the untrained and ignorant public; and the demands of these two classes of persons are so diverse that they must be provided for separately. The free library must have its lending department for the general public, and its reference department for students. The art gallery must have attractive and interesting pictures for ordinary visitors, but it must also have masterly studies for the instruction of young artists. The museum, however, has a still more complex and difficult part to play. It has not only to provide for the diverse wants of students and of visitors, but it has also to contribute to the general progress of scientific knowledge. Every museum, at least every provincial rate-supported museum, which is a public and in some sense a national institution, has a threefold duty: (1) to the nation at large, (2) to the students of the neighborhood, and (3) to the local public. If museums are ever to be more than a confused compound of the curiosity shop and the peep-show, which is what very many of them are at present, this threefold duty must be very clearly recognized, and means must be found for the efficient carrying on of each department.”

Bibliography of Alfred Russel Wallace

Near the end: S213. discussion/N [of 'On the Scientific Value of Beauty,' a paper by F. T. Mott read in Brighton at the 20 Aug. 1872 meeting of the Dept. of Zoology and Botany, Section D, Biology, of the BAAS]. Athenaeum no. 2340: 275 (275) (31 Aug. 1872).