Henry Riley (1797-1848) was a local surgeon and medical school teacher who had graduated MD in Paris in the mid 1820s; he 'was very like a Frenchman in appearance and manners' (Prichard, 1894, p. 6). Riley lived in Berkeley Square, Clifton, and he had gained brief notoriety in 1828, when he was fined £6 for attempting to rob a grave in Brislington, Bristol (Smith, 1917).
Riley gave a successful series of lectures on 'Zoological and Philosophical Anatomy' in Bristol in 1831-1833, emphasising the works of Lamarck, Cuvier, and Geoffroy, and he was a member of the important group of gentleman naturalists who founded and sustained the Bristol Institution (Taylor and Torrens, 1987; Taylor, 1994). He served on the Bristol Institution Committee from 1833 to 1836, and at the same time he was secretary of the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society, which procured £7000 for the purchase of land and the establishment of Bristol Zoo in 1835-1836 (Green-Armytage, 1964; Hunter, 2004, p. 454).
Riley's credentials in palaeontology had been established by his lectures, and by his description of the Lias cartilaginous fish Squaloraia (Riley, 1833, 1837), based on a specimen obtained from Mary Anning (Taylor and Torrens, 1987).
Benton, M.J. 2012. Naming the Bristol dinosaur, Thecodontosaurus: politics and science in the 1830s. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 123, 766-778. Download pdf of the paper.