William Sharp MacLeay (1792-1865)

English naturalist. MacLeay is best know for his "quinarian" doctrine of biological classification, which held that all organisms could be arranged in hierarchically ordered, circular sets of five taxa. This explicitly non-evolutionary and anti-Lamarckian system was compatible with a Creationist view of nature and was widely discussed when Darwin was a young man. MacLeay's taxonomic circles were held together by "affinities," which he opposed to misleading functional "analogies" (1823); following MacLeay closely, Owen coined the term "homology" for the former (1843). Chambers also was influenced by quinarianism, writing a whole chapter on the theory. MacLeay developed his ideas while working in the laboratories of Cuvier in the late 1810s. MacLeay was primarily an entomologist, but he also published on other groups like birds and fossil marsupials. In 1836 MacLeay emigrated to Australia, returning to London in 1836-37 (where he met Darwin). Huxley visited with MacLeay in Sydney in 1848, and had an influence on Huxley's ideas throughout the 1850s.


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