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Buckland, William (1784-1856)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0117 MS 251
Held at: Royal Society
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Full title: Buckland, William (1784-1856)
Date(s): 1812-1902
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 volume (285 items)
Name of creator(s): Buckland | William | 1784-1856 | Dean of Westminster and geologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Buckland was born in 1784 at Axminster in Devon, educated at Tiverton School and St Mary's College Winchester, and proceeded on a scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he became a Fellow in 1808, and displayed his interest in the new study of geology. This was expounded by Dr Kidd, Professor of Mineralogy, and cultivated in London by the founders of the Geological Society. Buckland had collected the sponges and fossils of the Chalk while at Winchester, and at Oxford he collected the shells of the Oolite, while walking with Mr Broderip of Oriel College, friend of the Rev J Townsend, friend and fellow labourer of William Smith. From 1808 Buckland rode over the south-west of England, collecting samples of the strata and groups of their organic contents, and then extending his travels to the north of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. In 1813 he became Professor of Mineralogy in succession to Dr Kidd, and a Fellow of the Geological Society, where he delivered lectures not only on mineralogy but on the discoveries and doctrines of geology, which attracted the attention and admiration of the University. In 1818, geology was publicly recognized by the establishment of a Readership in this science, and Buckland was the first appointee to the post. He gave one course of lectures annually on mineralogy and one on geology, including always the very latest discoveries. He knew, and corresponded with, the most eminent and active inquirers into geology, such as Rev J J Conybeare and Rev W D Conybeare, both of Christ Church, and Rev Benjamin Richardson of Farleigh Castle, near Bradford, and Rev Joseph Townsend of Pewsey, friends of William Smith. In 1818 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, justifying his claim to this honour by the publication of his account of bones in Kirkdale Cave in 1821, which earned him the Copley Medal. Later reprinted as 'Reliquiae Diluvianae', it stimulated the cultivation of geology and palaeontology world wide. His travels in Europe had brought to the now celebrated Oxford Museum large and valuable collections, and observations of phenomena then little known to English geologists. As a result he was elected Chair of the Geological Society in 1824. His subsequent travels in the Alps led to the recognition of the late geological date of their great upward movement, and provided him with material for ten memoirs relating to Continental geology. This period, in association with Sir H T De la Beche, was spent in curious researches on coprolites and fossil Sepiae. His numerous publications included very largely the results of personal observation on features of physical geography, succession of strata, distribution of glacial detritus, structure, habits of life, manner of death, and mode of occurrence of extinct animals. In 1848 his labours in geology were celebrated by the award of the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society.


Scope and content/abstract:

Letters addressed to William Buckland (DD, FRS, Dean of Westminster and Reader in Mineralogy and Geology in University of Oxford) and other posthumous correspondence relating to his work.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

In date order, except for undated correspondence, items 230-285, which are listed alphabetically by correspondent.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

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

Finding aids:

Table of contents at front of volume, and each letter catalogued in card catalogue.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Purchased from Sotheby's in 1937.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Other papers of William Buckland are held at: Special Collections and Western Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Oxford, letters from churchmen, 1833-1849; Beinecke Library, Yale University, letters from Sir Robert Peel, 1836-1839; Devon Record Office, correspondence and papers, 1800-1956; Museum of Natural History, Oxford University, literary MSS, lecture notes and correspondence, 38 letters to John Philips; British Geological Survey Library, drawings and lecture notes; Manuscript Collections, British Library, correspondence (Ref: Add MS 3809, 11835-1845), letters to Charles Babbage, 1825-1849 (Ref: Add MSS 37183-200 passim), letters to Philip Bliss, 1827-1849, 33 letters to Lord Grenville, 1818-1831, correspondence with Sir Robert Peel, 1823-1848; National Library of Wales, correspondence, 1825-1836; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge University, correspondence with William Baker and Thomas Webster, 1814-1819, 11 letters to T Webster, 1814-1832; Trinity College Library, Cambridge University, 19 letters to William Whewell, 1831-1848; Museum of the History of Science, Oxford University, letters to Andrew Bloxam; National Museum of Wales, 20 letters to Sir Henry de la Beche; St. Andrews University Library, correspondence with James Forbes; Library and Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 17 letters to Sir William Hooker, 1832; Linnaean Society of London, letter to the Linnaean Society; Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, 84 letters to Gideon Algernon Mantell, 1821-1848; Geological Society of London, 14 letter to Roderick Impey Murchison, 1830-1845; National Archives of Scotland, correspondence with Sir Charles Murrary; Castle Ashby, letters to the Marquess of Northampton, 1831-1849; Royal College of Surgeons of England, 15 letters to Sir Richard Owen; Department of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Nottingham University, 22 letters from Joseph Pentland, 1820-1822; Imperial College Archives, correspondence with Lord Playfair, Sir Robert Peel and others; The Robinson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne University, 17 letters to Sir Walter and Sir John Trevelyan; University of Bristol Special Collections, correspondence; Natural History Museum, letters on the fossil Edentata of South America with JB Pentland and W Parish, 1835-1838, 55 letters to members of the Sowerby family.

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 10/05/2002, modified 24/06/2002, revised Sep 2002

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