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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Brimley, Clement Samuel

by Marcus B. Simpson, Jr., 1979

18 Dec. 1863–23 July 1946

A photograph of Clement Samuel Brimley published in 1979. Image from the Internet Archive.Clement Samuel Brimley, zoologist and entomologist, was born in Great Linford, Buckingham County, England, the son of Joseph and Harriet Brimley, who immigrated with their family to Raleigh in December 1880. He received formal education at the Bedford County School in Elstow, England.

Shortly after arriving in North Carolina, Brimley and his brother Herbert opened a taxidermy and biological supply company in Raleigh, where they quickly established an international reputation as the leading naturalists of their time in the South. While Herbert became increasingly occupied with the activities of the North Carolina State Museum, Clement continued the operation of their business and prepared numerous papers on the birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects of the Southeast, these writings appearing in the Ornithologist and Oologist, Auk, Chat, Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society, Copeia, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, and Carolina Tips.

In 1919, Brimley joined the Entomology Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, eventually becoming associate entomologist and director of the museum's insect collection. He collaborated with T. G. Pearson and with his brother Herbert in writing Birds of North Carolina (1919 and 1942) and with H. T. Davis in Poisonous Snakes of the Eastern United States. His Insects of North Carolina (1938) and his papers "Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina" (1939–43) and "Mammals of North Carolina" (1905 and 1944–46) were definitive compilations in their field. He was a member of the American Ornithologists' Union, Wilson Ornithological Society, and American Society of Mammalologists. He was a founder, life member, and president of the North Carolina Academy of Science and founder and president of the North Carolina Bird Club. In June 1938 he was awarded an honorary LL.D. from The University of North Carolina in recognition for his contributions to science.

Brimley was married to Annie Roberts; they had two sons, Ralph and Edwin. His brother Herbert was director of the North Carolina State Museum. Clement Brimley was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery.


Chat 10 (1946 [portrait]).

Additional Resources:

Cooper, John E. "The Brothers Brimley: North Carolina Naturalists." Brimleyana 1. (March 1979). (accessed October 2, 2013).

"Brimley's Chorus Frog." Davidson College.

Image Credits:

"Clement Samuel Brimley." Brimleyana 1. (March 1979). 2. (accessed October 2, 2013).

Origin - location: