Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP4194

Sent by:
Wallace, Alfred Russel & Adams, Arthur & Adams, Henry
Sent to:
[ William Jardine ]

Sent by Wallace, Alfred Russel & Adams, Arthur & Adams, Henry, [address not recorded] to [William Jardine] [address not recorded] on  [1865].

Record created:
05 April 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


List of proposed amendments to the Rules of Zoological Nomenclature by Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Adams and Henry Adams.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP4194.4216)

An other document handwritten  in English and signed by author.

Held by:
University Museum of Zoology Cambridge
Finding number:
Hugh Edwin Strickland Archive N-063
Copyright owner:
Copyright of the Wallace, Alfred Russel & Adams, Arthur & Adams, Henry Literary Estate.

Physical description

Transcription information




Proposed emendations in the British Association Rules of Zoological Nomenclature.

Rul[e] 1 -- Strike out the words in brackets.

-- 2 -- Add "Therefore generic names published before the 1st. Edition of the Systema Nature 2 (1735) and specific names before the 10th Edition 1758 (in which the binomial nomenclature is first used) cannot be adopted to the prejudice of names published since those dates.

-- 3 to 8 -- Stand unchanged. 3

-- 9 -- Strike out "if otherwise unobjectionable["].

-- 10 -- Stand unchanged. 4

-- 11 -- Cancel this rule as opposed to rule 1 and opening the door to dispute & uncertainty as to what is "likely to propagate important errors5. 6

-- 12 -- Insert "specific" before name because a genus is generally considered as established when the well known species it includes are pointed out.

-- 13 -- Cancel this rule as unnecessarily infringing the law of priority, and making it impossible to refer to the original describer of the species without first quoting his name as a synonym.7

14 -- Stand unchanged.

The proposed alterations will introduce great certainty and definiteness into the Rules, and are in accordance with the practice of many of the best modern naturalists. Rules 11 and 13 actually permit individuals to change specific names in the first case on a matter of opinion in which it is certain there will never be agreement, and in the second for no reason whatever which would not apply equally well to a proposition to adopt every change of a specific name which has been made. These two rules therefore, as being manifestly and unnecessarily opposed to the law of priority, must be abolished as well for the consistency as for the utility of the system.

A.​ R. Wallace [signature]

H[enr]y Adams [signature]

Arthur Adams. [signature]


1. Text in unknown hand in pencil reads "63"

2. Text in unknown hand reads "7/"

3. Text in unknown hand reads "Jeff."

4. Text in unknown hand reads "obj[ec?]t Jeff."

5. Quotation marks inserted in unknown hand around "propagate important errors"

6. Text in unknown hand reads "Jeff. Obj"

7. Text in unknown hand reads "Jeff Retain."

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.