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Bateson, Sir Patrick, 1938-2017 (Knight, ethologist)



  • Existence: 1938 - 2017


Educated at Westminster School, Bateson entered King’s College Cambridge in 1957 and was placed top first in Part II Zoology in 1960. Encouraged by Niko TIngbergen, the animal ethologist, Bateson joined an expedition to Svalbard where he studied ivory gulls. In 1960, he started a PhD under the supervision of Robert Hinde at the Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour in Madingley, where he showed how filial imprinting enabled young chicks to learn to recognise and follow their mother and hence avoid attack by other females. After a Harkness Fellowship at Stanford, where Bateson worked with neuroscientist Karl Pribram, he returned to Cambridge in 1965, first as a King’s College Research Fellow, and then as University Lecturer continuing his work in the Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour on imprinting, showing in quail experiments how sexual imprinting on siblings enabled birds to avoid mating with relatives and promote optimal outbreeding. He became Director of the Sub-Department at Madingley (1976-88) and in 1984 was awarded a personal Chair as Professor of Ethology. He collaborated with Gabriel Horn and Brian McCabe on the neural changes that take place during imprinting. He wrote the ethology text 'Measuring Behaviour' with his student Paul Martin and edited the influential series 'Perspectives in Ethology'. Bateson also worked on animal welfare, play, learning and memory, and the role of behaviour in evolution. He published reports on hunting red deer (1997) commissioned by the National Trust and of an independent inquiry into dog breeding (2010).

Bateson was the first scientist to be elected Provost of King’s College (1988-2003). He was President of the Zoological Society of London and as Biological Secretary and Vice President of the Royal Society. He was elected FRS in 1983, and knighted in 2003.

Bateson married Dusha Matthews, historian and author of 'Mrs Charles Darwin's Recipe Book', in 1963 and had two daughters, Melissa Bateson, who is Professor of Ethology at Newcastle University, and Anna Bateson, a senior marketing executive.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


Sir Patrick Bateson: research, teaching and administrative records

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10285
Scope and Contents Personal and scientific working papers of Patrick Bateson. Personal papers include material relating to Bateson’s schooling and education, family history papers, diaries, notebooks and journals, a small number of photographs and material relating to his post-retirement interests. Scientific papers include research notebooks, experiment data, offprints, articles and draft articles, material relating to books and proposed books, and assorted notes covering the full range of Bateson’s research...
Dates: 1912 - 2017
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (