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James Patrick Howley was born in St. John's in 1847. He was educated at St. Bonaventure's College, St. John's, and at an early age showed an interest in natural history.

He worked in the public service in the office of the Colonial Secretary. At about this time (1867-1868), Alexander Murray came to Newfoundland from the Geological Survey in Ottawa, to become the first director of the Newfoundland Geological Survey. Howley's interest in natural history was quickly recognized by Murray and in 1868, was appointed as Murray's assistant. In 1887 Howley became the second director of the Geological Survey.

Howley was a prolific writer and published several books, including one that was used for many years as a standard text book in Newfoundland schools. Probably his most famous work was his book about the native inhabitants of Newfoundland who became extinct in 1829, The Beothucks or Red Indians, which was published in 1915. A work which was entirely financed by Howley.

Howley prepared the first coloured geological map of Newfoundland. It was published in 1919.

James Howley died in St. John's on January 1, 1918.

Source: Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1995

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