Thomas Pennant was born at Downing Hall, Flintshire in Wales in 1726. He attended Wrexham Grammar School and Queen's College and Oriel, Oxford. He became passionate about natural history at an early age, and studied fossils and minerals during the 1750s. He inherited Downing Hall in 1763, and used the proceeds of a lead mine he had opened to finance improvements to the estate. In 1766 he published his first volume of ‘British Zoology'. He was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1767, and published his popular work ‘A Tour in Scotland' in 1769.