Record

Authorised form of nameMurchison; Sir; Roderick Impey (1792 - 1871); geologist and geographer
Dates1792 - 1871
NationalityBritish
Place of birthTarradale House, Muir of Ord, Easter Ross, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, United Kingdom, Europe
Date of birth19 February 1792
Place of death16 Belgrave Square, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe
Date of death22 October 1871
Dates and placesBurial:
Brompton cemetery, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe
Research fieldGeology
ActivityEducation:
Durham School (1799-1805); Military College, Marlow (1805)
Career:
Ensign, 36th Regiment (1807); served at Vimiero (1808) and at Corunna (1809), then in Sicily and Ireland; Captain, 6th Dragoons; retired (1815); cademic interests arose during tour in Europe (1816-1818); attended lecturers of the Royal Institution (1824); undertook geological fieldwork in Kent and Cornwall; established oldest then-known fossil-bearing classification with 'The Silurian System'; undertook geological work in Britain and Russia (1841-1845); President of geological and geographical sections of the British Association (1846); Director-General, Geological Survey (1853); published 'Siluria' (1854); helped establish the chair of geology at Edinburgh university
Honours:
Kt 1846; KCB 1863; Bt 1866
Order of Saint Anne and Order of Saint Stanislaus (Russian Empire, 1845)
Memberships:
Fellow of the Geological Society (1825; President 1831, 1862-1871); Royal Geographical Society (founding member 1830; President 1843-1871); Athenaeum (Founder member)
Foreign Member of Academié des Sciences and Russian Academy of Sciences
Medals/Awards:
Wollaston Medal (1864)
Brisbane Medal (1859)
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election06/04/1826
Age at election34
Royal Society activityRoyal Society roles:
VP 1835-1836, 1843-1845, 1849-1851, 1858-1860
Committee and panels:
Committee of Geology and Mineralogy
Medals and prizes:
Copley Medal 1849
RelationshipsParents: Kenneth Murchison and Barbara Mackenzie; step-father: Colonel Robert Macgregor Murray
Siblings: Kenneth Murchison
Married: Charlotte Hugonin Murchison
Published worksRCN: 56470
RCN: 35383
RCN: 35385
RCN: 56471
RCN: 35384
RCN: R63142
RCN: 56472
RCN: 56462
RCN: 56469
RCN: 56481
General contextHis father, Kenneth Murchison, was a trained physician and became wealthy as a surgeon for the East India Company (1769-1791). As Director General of the Geological Survey, Sir Murchison himself was in charge of much of Britain's overseas research interest, appointed colonial geological surveyors, and was in charge of organising many major British expeditions between 1850 and 1870. He was an advocate for continuous expansion of the empire and furthered the link between the scientific community and the government by seeking patronages for geologists in a large number of colonised places. Murchison's most well-known legacy is his contribution to the geological field through 'The Silurian System', and he held catastrophist views on mountain building, glaciation, and erosion.
Royal Society Obituary or MemoirClick to view (may be contained within a meeting notice, presidential address or list of death notices)
Related imagesDiscover a selection of related images in our picture library
SourcesSources:
Bulloch's Roll; DNB; DSB; ODNB
Obituaries:
Proc Roy Soc 1871-1872 vol 20 pp xxx-xxxiii
References:
Beryl M Hamilton, '"A Geological Blunder", 1893: A Scientific Storm in a Journalistic Teacup' in NR 1991 vol 45 pp 63-77
Joel Mandelstam, 'Du Chaillu's Stuffed Gorillas and the Savants from the British Museum' in NR 1994 vol 48 pp 227-245, plate
Jack Morrell, review of Robert A Stafford, Scientist of Empire: Sir Roderick Murchison, Scientific Exploration and Victorian Imperialism in NR 1992 vol 46 pp 191-193
Vanity Fair 26 November 1870
Notes:
One signature in election certificate deliberately obscured
Virtual International Authority Filehttp://viaf.org/viaf/46876809
Royal Society codeNA8081
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
MC/6Volume 6 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1859-1863
MC/8Volume 8 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1867-1869
MS/682/24Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison, Stockport, to James De Carle Sowerby, 5 Camden Terrace West, Camden Town20 July 1835
DM/1/11Letter from RI Murchison, 3 Bryanston Place, to James Hudson, Assistant Secretary, Royal SocietyMarch 1831
MS/843/23Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison, 16 Belgrave Square, to Edward SabineOctober 1867
IM/003217Murchison, Sir Roderick Impeynd
AP/21/14Description of a self-registering Thermometer and Barometer unveiled by the late James Coggan esq and bequeathed by him to the Royal Society1838
MC/4Volume 4 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1844-1850
EC/1825/32Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey: certificate of election to the Royal Society
IM/003219Murchison, Sir Roderick Impeynd
IM/003218Murchison, Sir Roderick Impeynd
MM/16/127Letter from R[oderick] I[mpey] Murchison, Belgrave Square, to Sir John Herschel1 March 1850
MM/16/129Letter from RI Murchison, Belgrave Square, to Sir John Herschel16 March 1850
MM/16/128Letter from RI Murchison, Belgrave Square, to Sir John Herschel2 March 1850
IM/Maull/003216Murchison, Sir Roderick Impeynd
MM/16/126Letter from RI Murchison, Belgrave Square, to Sir John Herschel11 February 1850
MC/7Volume 7 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1864-1866
MS/682/27Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison, Ludlow, to James De Carle Sowerby, 5 Camden Terrace West, Camden Town, London 29 August 1837
MS/682/26Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison, Bryanter Place, to James De Carle Sowerby, 5 Camden Terrace West, Camden Town24 July 1837
AP/37/10On a supposed Aerolite or Meteorite found in the trunk of an old Willow Tree in Battersea FieldsJune 1855
VF/27Portrait of Sir Roderick Impey Murchison by Caro Pellegrini26 November 1870
MC/5Volume 5 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1851-1858
IM/003221Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey1851
NLB/15/648Copy letter from Robert William Frederick Harrison, to Captain F W H Petrie, Victoria Institute, 8 Adelphi Terrace, W.C. 11 November 1897
MC/1Volume 1 of miscellaneous correspondence regarding business matters, sent to the Royal Society1800-1831
RR/2/109Referee's report by Roderick Impey Murchison, on a paper 'An account of some recent researches near Cairo, undertaken with the view of throwing light upon the geological history of the alluvial land of Egypt' by Leonard Horner5 March 1855
RR/2/58Referee's report by Roderick Impey Murchison, on a paper 'On the supply of water from the chalk stratum in the neighbourhood of London' by John Dickinson14 March 1851
RR/2/110Second referee's report by Roderick Impey Murchison, on a paper 'An account of some recent researches near Cairo, undertaken with the view of throwing light upon the geological history of the alluvial land of Egypt' by Leonard Horner11 March 1855
RR/4/209Referee's report by Roderick Impey Murchison, on a paper 'On the occurrence of flint-implements, associated with the remains of animals of extinct species in beds of a late geological period, in France at Amiens and Abbeville, and in England at Hoxne' by Joseph Prestwich10 May 1860
RR/6/19Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison, to Edward Sabine, regarding a paper 'A brief account of the 'Thesaurus Siluricus,' with a few facts and inferences' by John Jeremiah Bigsby2 November 1866
RR/1/262Referee's report by William Buckland, Charles Dietrich Eberhard Konig and Roderick Impey Murchison, on a paper 'Caves in Burrington Combe' by Williams[c.1840]
RR/4/208Referee's report by Roderick Impey Murchison, on a paper 'On the occurrence of flint-implements, associated with the remains of animals of extinct species in beds of a late geological period, in France at Amiens and Abbeville, and in England at Hoxne' by Joseph Prestwich1 July 1859
MS/426/557Copy letter from C R [Charles Richard] Weld, the Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to Sir R [Roderick Impey] Murchison9 February 1856
MS/426/120Copy letter from [Charles Richard Weld] the Assistant Secretary of the Royal Society; to R J [Roderick Impey] Murchison Esq.15 February 1845
MS/426/595Copy letter from W [William] Sharpey, Secretary of the Royal Society; to Sir R [Roderick] Murchison6 July 1857
MS/426/594Copy letter from W [William] Sharpey, Secretary of the Royal Society; to the Right Hon H [Henry] Labouchere20 June 1857
MS/426/641Copy letter from [John] Wrottesley; President of the Royal Society; to R I [Roderick Impey] Murchinson19 July 1858
MM/17/41Letter from RI Murchison to the Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg22 March 1847
MS/682/25Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison, Newsted House, to James De Carle Sowerby, 5 Camden Terrace West, Camden Town 24 June 1836
IM/003220Murchison, Sir Roderick Impeynd
MS/251/34Letter from Roderick Impey Murchison to William Buckland[February-March 1829?]
IM/003215Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey1999
MC/1/312Letter from P. Mitchell, Sydney, New South Wales, to Sir Roderick Impey Murchison10 June 1831
MC/4/351Letter from [Roderick Impey] Murchison, Trichy, France, to the Royal Society8 June 1850
MC/5/285Letter from Rodr [Roderick] Murchison, President of the Royal Geographical Society, to Lord Wrottesley, President of the Royal Society10 June 1857
MC/5/330Letter from Roderick [Impey] Murchison to Dr [William] Sharpey, [Secretary of the Royal Society]26 January 1858
MC/5/352Letter from Roderick [Impey] Murchison to the Secretary of the Royal Society1 July 1850
MC/5/354Letter from Roderick [Impey] Murchison, 15 Whitehall Place, to Prof [George Gabriel] Stokes, Secretary of the Royal Society15 July 1858
MC/5/362Letter from Roderick [Impey] Murchison to Lord Wrottesley, [President of the Royal Society]20 October 1858
MC/6/333Letter from Rod I [Roderick Impey] Murchison, President of the Royal Geographcial Society, Apartments of the Geographical Society, to [William Sharpey and George Gabriel Stokes], Secretaries of the Royal Society17 June 1863
MC/7/125Letter from Rod I [Roderick Impey] Murchison, President of the Royal Geographical Society, 15 Whitehall Place, to Major-General E [Edward] Sabine, President of the Royal Society5 October 1864
MC/7/174Letter from Roderick I [Impey] Murchison, President of the Royal Geographical Society, 15 Whitehall Place, to Major General E [Edward] Sabine, President of the Royal Society14 February 1865
MC/7/194Letter from W E [William Edmond] Logan, 5 Cambridge Square, Hyde Park, to Dr [William] Sharpey, Secretary of the Royal Society4 April 1865
MC/7/197Letter from W E [William Edmond] Logan, 5 Cambridge Square, Hyde Park, to Dr [William] Sharpey, Secretary of the Royal Society10 April 1865
MC/8/99Letter from Rod I [Roderick Impey] Murchison, Geological Survey of Great Britain, to [William] Sharpey, [Secretary of the Royal Society]28 October 1867
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