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Fox, Robert Were (1789-1877)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0117 MS 710
Held at: Royal Society
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Full title: Fox, Robert Were (1789-1877)
Date(s): 1801-1873
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: One bound volume
Name of creator(s): Fox | Robert Were | 1789-1877 | inventor


Administrative/Biographical history:

Robert Were Fox was the son of Robert Were Fox, a shipping agent, and Elizabeth, daughter of Joseph Tregellen of Falmouth. Educated privately, he showed a special aptitude in mathematics, and was taught to study natural phenomena by his mother. In 1814, during his wedding trip on the continent, he formed lasting friendships with F W H A von Humboldt and other foreign scientists. His researches began in 1812 with Joel Lean, when they performed a series of experiments hoping to improve Watt's engines which were used in Cornish mines. In 1815 Fox began his researches into the internal temperature of the earth, which continued throughout his life. Facilities were provided for this by his lifelong connection with Cornish mines. Fox was the first to prove definitively that heat increased with depth, and that this increase was in diminishing ratio as depth increased. Fox was also interested in magnetic phenomena, especially relating to the earth's magnetism, and constructed a new dipping needle of great sensitivity and accuracy which was later used by Sir James Clark Ross in his voyage to the Antarctic in 1837 and by Captain Nares in the expedition to the North Pole in 1875-1877. Fox was one of the founders of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society in 1833, and was Vice President several times. He died at his house near Falmouth in 1877 and was buried at the Friends' burial ground at Budock.


Scope and content/abstract:

Letters of Robert Were Fox to the Fox family.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Alphabetically by correspondent.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to Archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Purchased in 1971 by the Royal Society from Sotheby's.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Public Record Office holds letters to Sir Edward Sabine, 1838-1845.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Description produced by the Royal Society and revised by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 17/05/2002, modified 24/06/2002, revised Sep 2002

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