Skip to main content

Notebook No.4, May 1827- June 1827

 Item — Box: Lyell-temp-box 1
Identifier: Coll-203/A1/4

Historical Context

This notebook, the first of 1827, was written by Lyell early in his geological career, when he was 30 years old, and unmarried. This comes after Lyell and Buckland made their discoveries in Scotland in 1824, but whilst he was also maintaining a law practice, funded by his father. Lyell was greatly involved with the Geological Society, serving as Secretary with George Poulett Scrope in 1825, and presenting papers on Tertiary exposures of the Hampshire coast in 1826. During the course of this notebook, Lyell began writing the first drafts of Principles of Geology. The first manuscript was delivered to the publisher at the close of 1827.

During this period, Lyell's eyes, weakened from a time spent in Tuscany as a youth, grew stronger, and allowed him to plan trips further afield to Europe. Most biographies point to this period of time when he resolved to dedicate his time to his geology work.

While working as a barrister on the western circuit, Lyell reads the evolutionary theories of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) and realizes that the mutability of species would affect geology as much as the biological sciences. Lyell nonetheless concludes that the fossil record is too imperfect to support the theory of evolution, and that the physical world is a stable balanced system.
Scope and Contents The following table of contents has been copied from Lyell's own "Index" found at the beginning and end of the notebook, supplemented with further observations. Items in quotations are taken directly from the notebook, and are in Lyell's own words. Abbreviations have been expanded where possible, and the extensions are shown between brackets []. The inclusion of a question mark in brackets [?] indicates inference due to illegible writing. Elipses in brackets [...] denotes an illegible word or phrase, and an asterisk denotes an illegible letter. The inclusion of [sic] indicates the misspelling of a word is deliberate and taken from the notebook. Common abbreviations: D'o stands for ditto, Att'ies stand for Attornies, Ill'd stands for illustrated.
Scope and Contents p. 1-8 Index
p. 9 Sirius origins, age; Description of silicified wood, found by the Derwent, Durham Tasmania, Australia
p. 10 Illustration section of coniferous tree; Irish elk description
p. 11-12 Icthyosaurus; Ecology of the Durwent River, Durham Australia; fish, trees; strata of organic remains; opal in wood
p. 12 Chrystallisation
p. 13 Number of fish; “Desmerest map of Auvergne”; Snow in Auvergne;
p. 14 “Flagot of Paris lava”; Fish, Auvergne, Clermont?
p. 15 Illustration, Guerin
p. 16 Desmerest map, Scrope’s opinion on craters; “Clermont distant from Paris”;Accomodation
p. 17 Volcanoes; trenches as flood precautions; Valley of Boyer; seasonal temperatures in Lapland
p. 18 “Chrystallization management [?]; Magnesian Limest.” Mention of Buckland, Sedgwick, silicified wood
p. 19 “D'o in various strata…”;
p. 20 “Oolite structure”; Obsidian, porphory [sic]; Esmark the Norwegian
p. 21 “Trachyte; Solenhofen and other fossils; Ech Queries for Broderip; coal shale in Teeds-dale [sic], great whin dyke; Solenhofen; Knorr and Walch; formation of chalk
p. 22 “Echinus in all form”; Queries on Auvergne
p. 23 Notes on water levels of Lake Huron from Stokes; price of printing; music printing
p. 24 “Banknotes plan to improve; Stereotype only 20 years old”
p. 25 Mention of Lord Stanhope, Whewell
p. 26 “Clerical instion [?] at St. Bees?” Mention of Llampeter, Wales; Queries on Auvergne, granite for Buckland; Scrope, map of Limagne; Notes on peperino, basalt, clay, strata
p. 27 “Silicified wood; Egypt chalk oolite”; Loire Valley; Scrope; primitive margin; Limagne;
p. 28 “Monte Bolca; fishing” Notes on modern causes of Eurite, extinct shells; Pholodomya; Queries for Murchison, mentions Greenough
p. 29 “Shells in deep sea; littoral shells alone known; Fossil species, coal field at Brora; species of shells and crabs” mention of Broderip
p. 30 Scriptural Geology; Queries on Auvergne; Diagram with annotations
p. 31 “Paper nautilus”; query on Auvergne; “Thiersch on Education;”
p. 32 Notes on social philosophy; education, work, religion
p. 33 German social order; religious study
p. 34 Social order, continued; Buckland’s findings in Issoire
p. 35 Query for Scrope; elephant fossil in Maastricht & Hocht
p. 36 “Antrian basalt same as […]”; Queries about phonolyte and trachyte; mention of lakes between Haute Loire and Paris basin
p. 38 “Wardon vale”; Section Illustration of Warden for E +W”
p. 40 “Serpentine Boui; with Enphotide”
p. 41 “Needles in I. of W […]; Volcanoes Ouvuher”
p. 42 “Clowes Printing Press. Pl.”
p. 43 “Waste of cliffs; X ch. Il’d Pool Bay section; diluv[ian] contains chalk; Modern causes why unknown”
p. 44 “Dor + Cantal Etnar?; Volcanic rock of Auvergne qy; Trap why alters not rocks; Sesces in insects
p. 45 “Bentham fallacious Bingham; Volcanoes in granite query; compression of lava; Inns of Court Irish; Extinct animals – a beginning”
p. 46 “Crag. Taylor legendum; Lava primative [sic] yet cellular; [?] + Silicified wood Purbeck” p. 47 “Fossil animal large Ohio”
p. 48 “[…] lava; Hot springs in Auvergne; Solfatana very ancient; Stalactites form slowly?”
p. 49 “Obsidian […]; silicified wood in Antigua”
p. 49-53 “Thiersch on Education contin’d”
p. 54 “Bulletin […] […] legendum; Temperature change w’d lower water?; Pressure rise of L. Superior; L. Superior is prim. and sandst.; Whales fossil; Dante extracts first”
p. 55 “List of bones N. Sarum”
p. 56 “Bones near Thames […]”
p. 57 “Dante contin’d; Grey weathins N. Downs”
p. 58 “Cave animals all in diluv’ian; Kentish rag like oolite; d’o covered by deluv’n in wh. chalk; d’o like firestone; d’o Portland shells?”
p. 59 “Kentish rag fossils Boughton”
p. 60 “Fossils of Trans’n and Mount’n same”
p. 61 “Division of Science Bacon; Amonite layer; Diluvian in […] +c w**ld”
p. 62 “Change of beds impstatine foree; Auvergne beds how far like old; Caves in limest. only; Cone in Cove”
p. 63 “Gypsym vale of Wardon; D’o Purbeck; Flint --; Waste cliffs; Pholadomya”
p. 64 “Rivers in Vivarais snow”
p. 65 “Plan of Essays; Dunes on coast of France”
p. 66 “Dante contin’d bis.”
p. 67 “Fisherton Anger plan of B.”
p. 68 “Silicif’d wood V.D. land + matrix; Mod. Causes concealed because tropics; Corals sh’d not be called zoophytes”
p. 69 “D’o Mod. Causes”
p. 70 “Shells cov’d with mermst. C. of G. H. etc”
p. 71 “Teredo work fast newly introd’d”
p. 72 “I. of Wight Cambeden on it’s junct’n; Living 1st decade useless”
p. 73 “Dante contin’d; What vole’e district has become ext.; Tuber like Drig, Africa”
p. 73 + 74“Sansego bones etc.; Alkali in basalt”
p. 75 “Geol’y Theories +contov’s why violent?”
p. 76 “Dr. Johnson ag’t Nat’l Hist’y + Multon”
p. 76 “D’o v. Cowley ---; Burke Playfair etc are slow writers”
Index pauses

p. 85 “Lake Superior + N. American Lakes; L’d Bacon on Truth in science”
p. 86 “d’o + religion should not be mixed up with”
p. 88 “Costum legendum; No’s misplaced of specimens”
p. 89 “Norfolk Coast; Exhumation […] Peel; Sansego bones; Tides on Norf’k coast”
p. 90 “Waste of cliffs; Millst. Gris below clay slate”
p. 91 “Age of trees; Temperature”
p. 92 “Oligarchy of Arist’y; Canadian hunters […]”
p. 93 “Waste of Cliffs”
p. 94 “Love of knowledge interested; Nat. Hist’y Dr. Johnson; Revol’n of Earth on Axis not revolving with Atmosphere Rassclan; Marriage late and early; Age of trees on Etna; Yarmouth new harbour”
p. 95 “Dante contin’d; Bookseller secures […]; Latin modern barbarous Person; D** in N. Amer’n lake”
p. 96 “ Mastricht volules; Cave in Italy; Attornies Lond’n Univ’y”
p. 97 “Bef’d Statute repealed; London Univ’y v. Coll. Say.”
p. 98 “Attornies pay a fine instead of Ed’n; must come to tour now; pay 500 £ + 800 premium”
p. 99 “conveyances?; managing burroughs; Lond’n Univ’ y leads on it.”
p. 100 “Amici’s + Tully’s […]; Charo [?]; Legendum Bonnet; Yeates on Ed[ucatio]n; Attornies bad ed[ucatio]n article”
p. 101 “Irish barristers in Lond[o]n Qy.; Attornies cannot go to Oxf[or]d etc; Writers in Scot[lan]d; Professors + Apisland, […]”
p. 102 “Mines in Cornwall – tin; Electric effects; Apprenticeships; Exhumation”
p. 103 “Oxf[or]d and Camb[ridge]. Increase of Dissenters; Attornies; Engeneers [sic]
p. 104 “Profession deems liberal hysteria”
p. 105 “Should a man expand his range; Church fashionable in Eng[land]?”
p. 106 “University Education. London Un[iversity].”
p. 107 “Red Sandst[one]. Devon. Delabeck; Silicion Linter”
p. 108 “Abridge Lab[…]; att[orn]ies; Engeneers
p. 109 “Attornies; What if suit conduct? By one”
p. 110 “ Attornies priviledge commun[it]y”
p. 111 “their different offices; Man not amphibious, etc; Legendum; Apprenticeships; Degrees test of conduct”
p. 112 “Attornies managing boroughs;”

Index Continues p. 162:
p. 112 “Att[orn]ies, East Relford; privileged comm’s; Dissenters number; London Univ[ersit]y chambers &
p. 113 Annus magnus; David Barrington in Age of Trees; Att’ies privileged comm’ties
p. 114 Men may be ancient Tho’ no old cities; Dolimien on lava of different ages
p. 115 Carbonif[erou]s limest. to marble by trap; Calc. group at great height in Alps Brongn[iar]t.; Legendum de Bastuol in Bourdeaux terlia; Crag in M. de Molcere Phillip & 116&
p. 116 Domite & Trachyte Daubeny; Antrim trap same age as Dor; most recent rocks in Gt. Bn; are degrees bad as monopolies
p. 117 Heads of colleges bad *interest* Ox[ford] & Cam[bridge]; Exhumation Peel's convicts; Are degrees bad as monopolies
p. 118 Craters of ancient form & terest[ria]l Volc; Any solvent in Paris silicates? ; Silex in Auvergne; Wash Gypsum decompos[ition]; *Prognient* on freshw[ate]r Form[atio]n legend[u]m
p. 119 “Dante citation; Pictures Ld. Grosvenor's weeping philosopher; Mrs Siddous Sir J, Raynolds
p. 120 “Professors Lond’n Univ
p. 121 “Brora Ammonite like Human Skull; Strata formed slow bored shells; Fanjai St Fonds Maastricht Chalk”
p. 122 “Crag near Montpellier; Tertiary strata in Italy; Palm wood structure; Chert definition
p. 123 “Crag of Sarity[]d. beaves coal; Val d'Arno; Cetacea why not found
p. 125 “Conglom[erate] of Mezen B. Rouse; King's Proclam[atio]n ag[ains]t vice & immorality
p. 126 “Slat of Fraud; Evidence at Q[uater] Sess[ion] transported; Wilts[hire] Sess[ion] Council; City buried in Pontine marshes
p. 127 “Scotch Educ[atio]n at Oxf[or[d […] Ch[urch] of Eng[lan]d […]; Attornies queries
p. 128 “Clerk of the Peace; Silex Resinite; Basin of the Loire & Seine”
p. 129 “Clink stone; Wilts once manufacturing. Why; Lava of [Puy] Pariou trees; vivarais Volcs. &c”
p. 130 “Boulade Scrope theory of it; Recent cones in Val della bue”
p. 131 “Lava on Etna Cascading; District unexpected in Cantal; Lucretius on men growing from earth; Session for criminal briefs; att[orn]ies profits – why bills high”
p. 133 “Rule of barristers; Session gains of barristers; Att[orn]ies”
p. 134 “Firestone Warminster Whetstone from; d’o, d’o & Blackdown same; silicified wood in Portland; Fish from Bituminous shale Isleben; skeleton & teeth in Chalk W.”
p. 135 “Indigestible, Fin of the ballista; Warminster & Blackdown firest.; Melania *inquinate* from Chuli Farm”
p. 136-7 “Crystalliz[atio]n Chalcedony; Chalk fossils d’o Firest; Tricks of dealers; Egypt fossils”
p. 137 “Alcynia from Sincapore [?]; Cetacea 2. Beneath chalk; Stonesfield fern; Qy. Of Dr Fowler”
p. 138 “Marble of Monette Auvergne; Att[orn]ies; Apprenticeships; Diluvian Warminst[e]r; Geology not comsmogony”
p. 139 “Elevation in Geology why unseen; Earthquakes what effect submarine; Lord Mansfield maxim for Poor Laws; Oath of Att’ies of honesty; Volcanic ashes from Vesuvius &c”
p. 140 “Dead bodies in bavaris exposed; Vallies excavation of; Lengend’m Mills on Educ’n Enc. Brit.; Transmigr’n of matter. Smollet; Age of trees oak Surrey
p. 141 “Strutts legendum; Olives at Tibur- Rome; Extant to Wh. Sand may be furrowed; Storm Nov. 1824 Crisis 146.2; Horsham Stone”
p. 142 “Grooving of oolite Castle Combe 147 &; Aristocratic feeling in Engl’d; Mortgages render men Depend’t; Aristocratic feeling in Italy
p. 144 “Legend’m Raffles on Vol’c Ash in Java; Large crystals in Lava of Ischia; Chippenham oolite disturbed; Viscid bitumen Auvergne; Architecture; Kelloways Somerford”
p. 145 “Lancerote volc’s; Salt vesuvius bis; G[…]h of sandst. Coast messina; Stromboli M. Boleo”
p. 147 “Age of trees; Druid sandstone; Barrows on chalk waste not; Table of queries at end of note”
p. 148 “England lesser drainage Tacitus; River flow from older to younger beds; Prejudices in Geology; Bagshot sand proof of elevati’n mod’; Primogeniture Spinster”
p. 149 “Mastodon in chalk Ed[inburgh] Phil. Jour[nal]; Strata only whne water has existed; Temperature from Earth Fourier; Val de Bagnes Ed[inburgh] Phil. Jour[nal]”
p. 150 “Legend’m in Geol’y; Stat. of Distribn. affects Primogenit[ure] how; Mathematical lectures in Lond[o]n; Bagshot Sand”
p. 151 “Shells pulverized only in shallows; Consolidation of modern rock; Flemming reference to Oolite structure of Castle combs”
p. 153 “Ischia eruption large crystals; Volcanic ashes see Raffles; Legend[u]m Raffles java; Change of fluid Lias crystal[ise]d; Age of Trees durability of Wood; Oolite Castle Combe dislocated; Springs submarine Silex; Bitumen Viscid in Auvergne”
p. 154 “Castle Combe stone”
p. 155 “Architecture Greeks Goths; Legend[u]m V. Buch Lancarote; Mission Mod[er]n Form[ation] of stone”

Index Contin’d p.152
Continued from p. 165
p. 155 “Stromboli high as Etna. dead fish.”
p. 156 “Monte Bolca fish theory; Delos Limest. Elev’d"
p. 157 “Votive tablets to Neptune; Floods in N. of Italy; Apes not found fossil; Subseq’t change of Strata Tunbridge”
p. 158 “ D’o by diff’t minerals; tabular view of the conversion; diff’t org. rem. Into minerals; Tunbridge Sand”
p. 160 “Silicified chalk fossils. Chalk; human remains if silifcif’d”
p. 161 “silification; Destruction; Pyrites”


  • May 1827- June 1827

Conditions Governing Access

This series is currently unavailable due to conservation and cataloguing work


165 folios

82 Leaves

1 volume

Repository Details

Part of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379