photo by Guido Comasini - 1996

William John Plant

William John Plant of Maitland - - - , NSW - Australia, died on 20 October, 1996. This remarkable poultry fancier, amateur researcher and historian was born on 3 May, 1921. Three years in high school were followed by work in engineering and three years on a technical college course. From 1939, interrupted by army service during World War II, he operated as amateur radio station - . In 1965, in conjunction with his son David, he started to breed Pekin Bantams and they became members of the NSW Pekin Bantam Club. It was from this time that an interest in fancy fowl, and the domestic fowl generally, took on a progressively more important role in William's life.

As breeders of Black Pekin Bantams, Bill and David Plant became Club Grand Champions on many occasions. William Plant served as Club Secretary and Newsletter editor (since 1974). This led ultimately to his co-editing The Australian Pekin Bantam (1993). The intriguing combination of interests in Pekin Bantams and short-wave radio provided the basis for his investigations and research into the origins and history not only of this variety, but into that of other varieties and the domestic fowl and poultry generally. While he wrote many articles for the poultry press on the history and development of varieties of domestic fowl and other poultry species in Australia, his increasing passion became the origin and evolution of the domestic fowl.

Some of the results of William Plant's research were published privately, including Chicken Bone Recoveries (1984) [and essential supplement (1985)] and Gallus Species - Jungle Fowl. Had the author lived longer these were intended to form part of a comprehensive treatise that would have embraced the origin of birds together with the evolution, history and distribution of the domestic fowl. Some of his findings are cited in Poultry Breeding and Genetics (1990).

To gather the information he needed, Mr Plant consulted a great many leading poultry scientists and obtained information from numerous museums, universities and institutions in many countries. It became apparent that the extensive correspondence that had accumulated could itself be of value. Bill Plant collaborated in the plan to combine this material in a book, Chattering on Gallus , that will be published posthumously.

Although Bill Plant was apologetic over his lack of academic background and for any consequent deficiencies in presentation, his wide ranging investigations and research were carried out with thoroughness and great enthusiasm. Indeed, as he followed in the tracks of ancient domestic fowl he was like an indefatigable bloodhound, with the results related as a thrilling detective story. In spite of suffering impaired sight, the fruitfulness, dedication and clarity of vision of this scholar were striking and could be envied by many: who might be considered to be better qualified. Bill Plant's philosophy was one of continuous learning. He eschewed the idea that he had become an authority, linking this term with the cessation of learning. All those who had the good fortune to know this remarkable man will regret his passing.

  Elio Corti & Mikhail Romanov
Published in: World's Poultry Science Journal, 53: 99-100, 1997

The last letter sent to Bill
by Elio Corti

Sunday - October 6th 1996 - 7:40 p.m. mailed October 10th 1996

Dear Bill,

If it’s too much hard for you to read this letter, I ask from Marie to do this.

As they told me we have no too much time to communicate by letter, I would like to say that you are in my heart since the first day I knew you personally, and, perhaps, also before, when we was only corresponding by snail mail.

I hope only one thing: you might leave this life without sufferance, because this life was very lavish with you not only with spiritual pains.

You dictated your last will by telephone. I can assure you that my collaboration with David, in researching what you are researching since years and years, will be complete, as you can be sure that what I promise I keep.

You returned from your European journey with many ideas for the Australian breeders. One of these was to give them the Australian Poultry Standard. I think that as remembrance of the big and strong man you are, every friend of you must be available to realise this dream.

This dream must become reality. In this way for each of us it will be like living at your side, under your benevolent and reassuring smile.

The last words I told you in the Milano's airport have been: we will see in Pine River, Minnesota.

I don’t know where we will see next time. May be in the chickens’ Paradise. So, it will be possible to know definitely either all the domestic chickens are an offspring of the Bankiva  or not.

Next week I will meet Loyl in central Switzerland, near Lucerne. I will speak to him about our unsuccessful meeting in Minnesota. It will be for another time!!!

Please give my greetings to your dog Bob .

My mother , Guido , Paco , Rex , Merlo , Pinga and all my chickens and my three volumes of Summa Gallicana  are with you, a silent fighting winner cock.

The dedication of my job will be for the two strongest persons I met in my life:
Claudia & Bill.

You are in my heart and in my mind, for ever and ever.

Chicken bone recoveries

Chicken bone recoveries - supplement

Gallus species - Jungle fowl

Chinese or Australian Langshan history

Rare Breeds and others

Australian Pit Game Fowl

OEG colours description by A.J.Compton

Notes on OEG

The mottle gene

History of Australian Game Fowl

Some Australian Poultry history

Ducks and Geese

Australorp history

Rhode Island history

Chattering on Gallus