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Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey, 1792-1871 (1st Baronet | Scottish geologist)



  • Existence: 22 February 1792- 22 October 1871

Sir Roderick Impey Murchison ( 1792-1871), developed the modern classification of the Palaeozoic period, through his research emphasising biostratigraphy; the deposition of strata indicated by fossils. In the course of his career he successively defined the Silurian, Devonian and Permian strata, which replaced Greywacke and Coal Measures in the scientific literature.
After serving with the army in the Peninsula War and a period of time pursuing his interest in hunting, the independently wealthy Murchison began attending lectures at the Royal Institution. In 1825 he joined the Geological Society of London. Shortly afterwards he read the society his first paper, on the geology of parts of Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey. In the following five years Murchison made field explorations to Scotland, France, and the Alps with either Adam Sedgwick or Charles Lyell. In 1831 he began a study of the Early Palaeozoic rocks in South Wales. These studies were the basis of his defining work The Silurian System, ( 1839) . Further geological research in south western England and the Rhineland, in collaboration with Adam Sedgwick, defined the Devonian System. Russian field expeditions, in conjunction with French colleagues, became the basis for the definition of the Permian System. These expeditions also resulted in his works The Geology of Russia in Europe, ( 1845) and The Ural Mountains, ( 1845) . Successive editions of his expanded treatise on the Silurian System, Siluria, ( 1854) (5th ed. 1872) were also prepared. Latterly he became interested in encouraging geographical exploration and colonialism.
Murchison was president of the Geological Society of London in both 1831-1832 and 1842-1843 and became long term president of the Royal Geographical Society in 1844. As one of the founders of the British Association he was elected president for 1846. He was knighted in 1846 and also awarded the Russian Order of St. Stanislaus of the 1st Class. Appointments as director general of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, and director of the Government School of Mines and the Museum of Economic Geology, London, followed in 1855. From 1863-1871 he was Patron of the Edinburgh Geological Society during which time he was raised to a Baronet. In 1871 he founded a Chair of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Edinburgh.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

Notebook No.8, 4 May 1828-18 May 1828

 Item — Box: Lyell-temp-box 1
Identifier: Coll-203/A1/8
Scope and Contents This brown leather notebook features Lyell's copy hand throughout, many detailed sketches, Dover, Calais, mention of Auvergne, Fault Shakespeare's Cliff, Geological observations at Dover, Calais and on road south from Paris to Riom. The inside cover notes his address, "Mr. C Lyell, No 9 Crown Office Row, Temple". The following table of contents is Lyell's own words, copied from Lyell's own "Index", found at the beginning and end of the notebook,...
Dates: 4 May 1828-18 May 1828

Notebook No.9, 18 May 1828-2 June 1828

 Item — Box: Lyell-temp-box 1
Identifier: Coll-203/A1/9
Scope and Contents This notebook of brown leather contains geological notes on the Auvergne region. Lyell writes in a journalistic style with daily observations and descriptions, with whole page sketches and diagrams of the landscape. The inside cover is written "Mr C Lyell No. 9 Crown Office Row Temple." The front plate reads "No 2 France, Clermont Ferrand, Auvergne, May 18th to June 2nd 1828." The following table of contents is Lyell's own words, copied from...
Dates: 18 May 1828-2 June 1828

Notebook No.10, 28 May 1828-14 June 1828

 Item — Box: Lyell-temp-box 1
Identifier: Coll-203/A1/10
Scope and Contents This notebook of brown leather contains further geological observations in Auvergne, often as diary entries of daily observations. On the front cover plate is written "No 3. France Pont du Chateau to Murol May 28th to June 14th 1828". The following table of contents is Lyell's own words, copied from Lyell's own "Index", found at the beginning and end of the notebook, transcribed from digital surrogates using the platform Transkribus. When known,...
Dates: 28 May 1828-14 June 1828

Papers of Sir Charles Lyell

Identifier: Coll-203
Scope and Contents
  1. 10 boxes of correspondence
  2. 2 boxes of miscellaneous papers and lecture notes
  3. 24 boxes of offprints of papers
  4. 294 notebooks
Dates: 1820-1874