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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 8 Collections and/or Records:

Correspondence of Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1827-1871

Identifier: Coll-74/10
Scope and Contents The Correspondence of Sir Roderick Impey Murchison series consists of: letters from Murchison to his wife, 1854 and 1857 miscellaneous correspondence and notes (including letters to Sir Archibald Geikie) 1831-1871 correspondence relating to Murchison's dispute with Adam Sedgwick regarding Silurian classification 1838 and 1852-1866 assorted correspondence,...
Dates: 1827-1871

Correspondence to Sir Archibald Geikie: Robert Harkness to Francis John Haverfield, 1872-1915

Identifier: Coll-74/11/22
Scope and Contents The Correspondence to Sir Archibald Geikie: Robert Harkness to Francis John Haverfield sub-series consists of:
  1. 18 letters, alphabetically arranged (1872-1915)
Dates: 1872-1915

Family papers, 1723-1935

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: Coll-51/1
Scope and Contents 1 .1: 'Family dates C.K.M. 25.2.1935'. 1 fol. 1.2: 'Chronological table of the family of the Murchisons or as called in Gaelic McColman'. Notebook. 1 .3: 'Notes on Murchison family papers at Hargrave made by A.F.Rowe Aug. 1924'. 1.4: 'List of letters & papers acquired from Haffenden 1921 ...' with correspondence between various lawyers, Dec. 1920 - April 1922. 25 fols. 1.5: 'Incidents in the life of Colonel Donald Murchison'. 7pp, with postcards of...
Dates: 1723-1935

Journal of Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1792-1815

Identifier: Coll-51/3/1
Scope and Contents 1 volume giving details of Murchison's early life and family ( 1792-1815), with enclosed notes
Dates: 1792-1815

Letter to Sir Archibald Geikie from Henry Walter Bates, 31 October 1874

Identifier: Coll-74/11/8/31
Scope and Contents Letter to Sir Archibald Geikie from Henry Walter Bates telling Geikie that has sent him a copy of an address by Sir Henry Rawlinson (not attached) which will give him information concerning Sir Roderick Impey Murchison's connection with the Royal Geographical Society. He gives an additional reference and promises further information will follow.
Dates: 31 October 1874

Letter to Sir Archibald Geikie from Henry William Bristow, 18 May 1875

Identifier: Coll-74/11/8/66
Scope and Contents Letter to Sir Archibald Geikie from Henry William Bristow thanking him for his gift of a copy of his work Life of Sir Roderick I. Murchison, Bart. : based on his journals and letters with notices of his scientific contemporaries and a sketch of the rise and growth of Palaeozoic geology in Britain, ( 1875) . He hopes that the publication will not reopen the historical controversy between Sir Roderick Impey Murchison and Adam Sedgwick.
Dates: 18 May 1875

Letter to Sir Archibald Geikie from Jessie Aitken Wilson, 24 January 1860

Identifier: Coll-74/11/3/55
Scope and Contents Letter to Sir Archibald Geikie from Jessie Aitken Wilson concerning the ownership of letters which her late brother George Wilson had borrowed as background material for the 'Memoirs of Edward Forbes'. She suggests writing to the owners to let them know that she has transferred them to Sir Archibald Geikie, and writes a detailed action list. She discusses the health of Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay and her dislike of Emily M Yelverton.
Dates: 24 January 1860

Letters to Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay, 1843-1879

Identifier: Coll-74/11/1
Scope and Contents The Letters to Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay sub-series consists of:
  1. 14 letters from a variety of European correspondents concerning geological papers and research (1843-1879).
Dates: 1843-1879