Prideaux John Selby

Prideaux John Selby
Prideaux John Selby
Born 23 July 1788(1788-07-23)
Alnwick, Northumberland, England
Died 27 March 1867(1867-03-27) (aged 78)
Bamburgh, Northumberland, England
Occupation ornithologist, botanist, artist
Nationality British

Prideaux John Selby (23 July 1788 – 27 March 1867) was an English ornithologist, botanist and artist and landowner.

Selby is best known for his Illustrations of British Ornithology (1821–1834), the first set of life-sized illustrations of British birds. He also wrote Illustrations of Ornithology with William Jardine and A History of British Forest-trees (1842).

Many of the illustrations in his works were drawn from specimens in his collection. In addition to the above works he contributed to Jardine's Naturalist's Library the volumes on the Pigeons (1835) and the Parrots (1836), the latter illustrated by Edward Lear. He was for some time one of the editors of the Magazine of Zoology and Botany. His collections were sold in 1885 and became dispersed. The South African birds collected by Andrew Smith went to the Zoology Museum of the University of Cambridge.

Selby was born at Alnwick in Northumberland, a son of the Beal and Twizell House, Northumberland branch of the Selby family and studied at University College, Oxford. He succeeded in 1804 to the family estates at Beal and added to the landholdings there at a cost of some £14000 in about 1840. He sold the Beal estate amounting to 1,450 acres (5.9 km2) in 1850 for £47000.

He married Lewis Tabitha Mitford and they had three daughters He died at Twizell House and was buried in Bamburgh churchyard.

The standard botanical author abbreviation "P.Selby" is applied to species he described.


  • Mullens and Swann – A Bibliography of British Ornithology
  • The History and Antiquities of North Durham Rev James Raine MA (1852) p338
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Christine E Jackson 2004