Monday 21 July 2014

Paul Möhring: From Kings to Birds to Botany

Paul Heinrich Gerhard Möhring (aka Paul Mohr; Jever, Germany, 21st July 1710 -  Jever, Germany, 28th October 1792)

Paul Heinrich Gerhard Möhring, 1782

Today we take a trip to Germany to meet a man who enjoyed a successful career across a wide range of scientific interests. From medicine to natural science, he was driven by an inherent curiosity for the world in which he lived and enjoyed great success in a range of fields.

Möhring was born to a pastor, Gottfried Victor Möhring, and his wife, Sophia Catherine Töpken. He was a fiercely intelligent young man and excelled as a student of medicine in Wittenberg, where he impressed his academic tutors with his skill and approach to his studies. He graduated in 1733 and returned to his hometown, where he took up a successful career as a doctor whilst indulging his passion for natural science, building up an extensive body of correspondence with other botanists and scientists of the era.

A decade after his graduation, Möhring was awarded the role of physician to Prince Johann Ludwig II of Anhalt-Zerbst and built on this professional success with a domestic one, marrying his sweetheart, Juliane Damm, who would be mother to his four children, one of whom followed his father as court physician.

Throughout his long life, Möhring worked tirelessly as a writer of scientific works. His most influential and famous book was the 1752 publication, Avium Genera, which was his attempt to classify birds into four classes. He continued publishing and corresponding with fellow naturalists until his death, immortalised to this day in the plant name, Moehringia.

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