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Thomas Alfred Coward, MSc, FZS, FRES, MBOU (8 January 1867 – 29 January 1933), was an English ornithologist and an amateur astronomer. He wrote extensively on natural history, local history and Cheshire.


Thomas Coward - a joy to read.

He was born at 8 Higher Downs, Bowdon, Cheshire (now Greater Manchester) on 8 January 1867, the fourth and last child of Thomas and Sarah Coward. His father was a Congregational minister and in business as a partner in the firm of Melland and Coward, textile bleachers. Coward's siblings were Charles, Alice and Annie. After an education at Brooklands School, Sale and at Owens College (now Manchester University), Coward worked in the family business for 19 years, before it was taken over by the Bleachers' Association. His share of the proceeds from the sale of Melland and Coward was sufficient to allow him to retire from business and concentrate on his love of wildlife and the study of birds, which had developed as a child. He began writing articles on natural history for newspapers including The Liverpool Daily Post, The Chester Cournant and The Manchester Guardian for which he wrote the "Country Diary" column until his sudden death in 1933.


His first book was The Birds of Cheshire, published in 1900, when he was living in Hale. His three-volume The Birds of the British Isles and their eggs (1920–25) was illustrated by Archibald Thorburn and was "acknowledged as being the book that did more to popularise the study of birds than any other publication produced during the first part of the twentieth century". It was revised by Arnold Boyd for a new edition in 1950. He co-wrote articles and books on ornithology with Charles Oldham, a former schoolmate. Coward is credited with the first use in print of the term "Jizz", in his "Country Diary" column of 6 December 1921 - the piece was subsequently included in his 1922 book "Bird Haunts and Nature Memories". He attributed it to "a west-coast Irishman". Coward wrote a number of books on local history, natural history and birds. These include:

  • The Birds of Cheshire, 1900, written jointly with Charles Oldham;
  • Picturesque Cheshire;
  • The Vertebrate Fauna of Cheshire and Liverpool Bay, 1910, written jointly with Charles Oldham and James Johnstone;
  • Cheshire. Cambridge County Geographies;
  • Cheshire – Traditions and History;
  • The Mammalian Fauna of Cheshire;