Philip Gosse

Philip Henry Gosse, known as Henry to his friends, was an eminent Victorian naturalist and author.  After a career which took him to work in Newfoundland, Quebec, Alabama, Jamaica and London; he eventually settled in St Marychurch in 1857. 

Gosse was a Christian fundamentalist, this led him to write a book called “Omphalis” which tried to justify the geological ages with the biblical account of creation.  His creationist theories brought him into direct conflict with Charles Darwin and his scientific discoveries regarding evolution.  Locally, Gosse spent a considerable time collecting marine specimens, such as sea anemones, from rock pools at Oddicombe and Babbacombe beaches.  Amongst the vast body of work during his lifetime he is perhaps, best remembered as being credited as the inventor of the sea water aquarium.

Gosse was a member of the Plymouth Brethren who used to hold their meetings in Park Road and later he made provision for the building of a Gospel Hall in St. Marychurch.  He also held Bible study groups at his home “Sandhurst” in Manor Road, with Dr J.E Gladstone the dissenting minister of Furrough Cross Church, who he considered to be his ‘most intimate friend’.  He was so opposed to the ‘so called’ Church of England that he refused to have his mail addressed to ‘St. Marychurch’, instead his letters were sent to “Sandhurst” Torquay.

Philip Henry Gosse died at his home ‘Sandhurst’ in Torquay on 23 August 1888. He was buried in Torquay Cemetery on the 27th August, close to his mother Hannah, who had passed away in 1860.  His grave was inscribed ‘He which testified these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen even so, come, Lord Jesus, [Revelation 22.20.]

His wife Eliza died in 1900 and was also buried in Torquay Cemetery.