Onslow, Victor Alexander Herbert Huia (1890-1922), biochemist

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Onslow, Victor Alexander Herbert Huia (1890-1922), biochemist

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      • Onslow, Huia
      • Onslow, Honourable Victor Alexander Herbert Huia

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      1890-1922

      History

      Huia Onslow was born on 13 November 1890, the second son of William Hillier Onslow, 4th Earl of Onslow (1853-1911), and his wife the Hon. Florence Coulston Gardner (d. 1934). His father was governor of New Zealand from 1898 to 1992[?], and he was born at Government House, Wellington: the first vice-regal child to be born in the country, and a subject of considerable popular interest. There was a public petition for Queen Victoria to be his godmother, which she accepted, giving him the names Victor Alexander; it was also suggested that the child should be given a Māori name and many ideas were put forward. The eventual choice, Huia (from the huia bird, much revered by the Māori), was suggested by the Ngati Huia hapu (sub-tribe) of the Ngāti Ruakawa in Otaki, and he was always known by that name; a few months later he was taken to the marae (meeting ground) of the Ngāti Ruakawa and welcomed with great ceremony. Huia returned to New Zealand in 1904-1905 with his sister Dorothy, and was again welcomed at the marae.

      He was educated at Eton and then Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1908), where he read natural science for a year before studying mechanical science: he intended to qualify for the Parliamentary Bar and expected this to be useful. However on an expedition in the Tyrol in August 1911 with mountaineer Charles Meade he dived into a mountain lake, struck his head on a submerged rock and suffered severe damage to the spinal cord, leading to lifelong paralysis from the waist down, with the use of his arms and hands also affected.

      He continued with his studies, however; in the first few years after his accident, living in London, he did some work in experimental psychology and began the genetic studies on mice and rabbits which would continue throughout his life; he also began microscopic and chemical investigations of hair structure and pigments, with an assistant under his close supervision performing some of the chemical work, but carrying out all the microscopic observations himself. He collaborated with S. W. Cole on investigations into the chemical properties of urobilin and allied pigments, and worked on the causes of dominant and recessive whiteness in animals. In addition, he contributed several literary articles and poems to the Spectator and other journals.

      In 1915 he returned to live in Cambridge, with a room in his house being fitted out as a laboratory into which his couch could be wheeled. It was here he began his work on Lepidoptera and other insects, which led to several important papers in the Journal of Genetics, as well as working further with S. W. Cole on the metabolism of bacteria. Around 1917 he became interested in protein chemistry and amino acids, in particular tryptophan. At about the same time he began working closely with Muriel Wheldale (1880-1932), then an assistant in the University physiological laboratory (and later one of the first women appointed to a University lectureship) on colour and iridescence in insect scales. They were married on 3 February 1919.

      Huia Onslow died on 27 Jun 1922, at the age of thirty-one.

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      Moodie, Helen Tully (1873-1955), governess and assistant to V. A. H. Huia Onslow (1873-1955)

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      Onslow, William Hillier (1853-1911), 4th Earl of Onslow, Governor of New Zealand and politician (1853-1911)

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      Onslow, William Hillier (1853-1911), 4th Earl of Onslow, Governor of New Zealand and politician is the parent of Onslow, Victor Alexander Herbert Huia (1890-1922), biochemist

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      Onslow, Florence Coulston (1853-1934), wife of William Hillier Onslow, 4th Earl of Onslow (1853-1934)

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      Onslow, Florence Coulston (1853-1934), wife of William Hillier Onslow, 4th Earl of Onslow is the parent of Onslow, Victor Alexander Herbert Huia (1890-1922), biochemist

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      Wood, Dorothy Evelyn Augusta (1885-1976), wife of the 1st Earl of Halifax (1885-1976)

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      Wood, Dorothy Evelyn Augusta (1885-1976), wife of the 1st Earl of Halifax is the sibling of Onslow, Victor Alexander Herbert Huia (1890-1922), biochemist

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      Onslow, Muriel Wheldale (1880-1932), biochemist (1882-1932)

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      Onslow, Muriel Wheldale (1880-1932), biochemist is the spouse of Onslow, Victor Alexander Herbert Huia (1890-1922), biochemist

      Dates of relationship

      1919-1922

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          Sources

          Onslow, M. (1924). Huia Onslow : A memoir. London: E. Arnold & Co.
          “Obituary Notice: Victor Alexander Herbert Huia Onslow.” The Biochemical Journal vol. 17,1 (1923): 1-4.
          Cox, E., (2015). The Baptism of Huia Onslow. [online] Old St Paul's Wellington New Zealand. Available at: https://osphistory.org/2015/03/24/the-baptism-of-huia-onslow/ [Accessed 7 October 2021].

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