Record

Authorised form of nameMurchison; Sir; Roderick Impey (1792 - 1871); geologist and geographer
SurnameMurchison
ForenamesRoderick Impey
Dates1792 - 1871
NationalityBritish
Dates and placesBirth:
Tarradale House, Muir of Ord, Easter Ross, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland, United Kingdom, Europe (19 February 1792)
Death:
16 Belgrave Square, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe (22 October 1871)
Burial:
Brompton cemetery, London, England, United Kingdom, Europe
ActivityResearch Field:
Geology
Education:
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)
Academic 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); 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:
FGS (1825, President 1831, 1862-1871); FRGS (Founding member 1830; President 1843-1871; Wollaston medal recipient); Athenaeum (Founder member)
Foreign Member of Academié des Sciences and Russian Academy of Sciences
Royal Society activityMembership:
Fellow
Election Date:
6/04/1826
Proposers: William Buckland, William H. Wollaston, Thomas Amyot, John Taylor, Thomas F. Colby, Thomas Young, William Somerville, John Deas Thomson, William Henry Fitton, John Bostock, Charles Konig, Robert Brown, Davies Gilbert, Philip P King
Medals/Prizes:
Copley Medal 1849
Council:
VP 1835-1836, 1843-1845, 1849-1851, 1858-1860
Committee appointments include: Committee of Geology and Mineralogy
RelationshipsParents: Kenneth Murchison (d. 1796) and Barbara Mackenzie; step-father: Colonel Robert Macgregor Murray
Siblings: Kenneth Murchison (b. 1794)
Married: Charlotte Hugonin Murchison, geologist (29 August 1815)
Published works'The Silurian System' (1839)
'The Geology of Russia and the Ural Mountains' with von Keyserling and de Verneuil (1845)
'Siluria' (1854)
'On a supposed aërolite or meteorite found in the trunk of an old willow tree in the Battersea fields' [Proc Vol. 7 1856; DOI: 10.1098/rspl.1854.0097]
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.
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
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
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 RI 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
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/27"A faithful Friend, an eminent Savant, and the best possible of Presidents."26 November 1870
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
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
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