4 Building the Collecting Community

Geology was to be the central recreation of the new philosophising societies in Yorkshire and many elsewhere, and fossil collecting its material realisation. The collections so formed were to be an encapsulation of knowledge and not the idle curiosities of avarice so frequently observed in the possession of contemporary private collectors. While the cabinet had long been established as an educational tool and cultural symbol, many private collections in themselves showed little sign of any intellectual process. So often the obsession was with collecting, not with knowledge: ‘The best way, perhaps, to become thoroughly familiar with an object is to possess it, and the desire to possess is likely to develop into a collecting mania.’ ‘It is the chase, not the quarry, that counts; the pursuit of the unattainable, the discovery of the unexpected, with all its vicissitudes of success and failure.’[1] This was so even in many of the most noted collections of the time. 

For others, collecting was more selective. Indeed selectivity was the key to its effectiveness. Here the aesthetics of the collection, suffused with intimations of science or knowledge, bestowed a cultured image upon its possessor. And because geology, amongst all the sciences, had a strong link to an obscure and exotic material culture, it too could signify taste, that vital determinant of the cultured. Such a collection was in the possession of James Johnson of Hotwells, Bristol. Renowned during his lifetime, it was the source of specimens for Conybeare’s work on marine reptiles, and Sowerby’s Mineral Conchology, and was later to be used in Buckland’s Bridgewater Treatise. Being a frequent buyer of Anning specimens, Johnson had acquired a considerable collection of marine reptiles before they became fashionable and had sent information on them to Cuvier. His was amongst the collections that Cumberland, in 1826, recommended visitors to the region to see, on the understanding that the ‘collection of fossils is very extensive, though not at all arranged, and deficient in many things.’ 

When in 1829, John Phillips and Bristol’s Johann Miller saw it, Phillips noted that this collection of fine saurians, crinoids and other fossils was only ‘a show collection and not an illustrative solution.’ Phillips had been brought up to expect collections to be illustrative of knowledge – three-dimensional explanations. His uncle’s collection in London was just this: ‘Each separate stratum recognised by Smith had one or more shelves sloping to represent the dip as he knew them in the typical ground of the Dunkerton Valley, near Bath, where he first studied them.’ Phillips derived his use of collections as teaching devices directly from Smith who had used his own collection to explain the significance of his ideas. Smith was the archetypal museum geologist who invented the geological museum as a tool for researching and explaining ideas.[2] Johnson’s collection was a resource to be exploited. In the hands of others it made science, but exhibited at his home it made entirely different statements about its possessor, his intellect and sophistication. 

There were certainly exceptions. Collections that were well organised and named as best as was possible (many collectors had no choice but to invent their own names). Progressively expectations of collections increased but collectors were often handicapped by the poor state of development of the science locally. Their collections were only to be transformed with the arrival of a local treatise which explained local stratigraphy and named local fossils.

The Yorkshire Philosophical Society made frequent reference to the value of collections and museums, distancing itself from those who coloured contemporary opinion: ‘the naturalist by whom they are formed, is sometimes suspected of claiming the dignity of a science, for pursuits little higher than the amusements of children. If the object of a collector be no more than to accumulate and to display, he is indeed very idly employed.’ The society was to ‘acquire’ and ‘diffuse a more perfect knowledge of the works of creation’: a ‘rational’, and therefore fashionable, objective which placed the museum and collection at the centre of its activities.[3] In the hands of these philosophers the collection was to become a medium for the acquisition and diffusion of knowledge; a three-dimensional encyclopaedia of hard evidence from which philosophers could derive the principles and language for scientific discourse. And combined into formidable scientific institutions the philosophers collected on an entirely new scale: ‘the advantages of Institutions like this, in preserving for the benefit of science those large fossil specimens, which being too bulky for cabinets or private collections, would be in danger of being altogether lost or destroyed.’[4] But how were these societies to acquire this material? Without it they could not function and there were limits to the number of ready-made collections which could be purchased.

The York society, so well placed for travel to the four corners of the county, was, however, some distance from the major natural repositories of fossils. It had soon realised that it would need to rely upon a network – ‘the combined observation of many individuals’. However, the philosophical world had considerable distrust of the inferences and potential naivety of such observations. Few provincial observers were sufficiently well versed in geology to produce information of any reliability. Anyone, though, could collect fossils and send them to a central museum for scientific interpretation. Such specimens became the principal means of data collection – literally hard facts! From the outset the York philosophers sought to instil rational and informative investigation. Specimens sent to the museum were to be accompanied by information on the nature of the stratum and its position with respect to other strata. However, novices who found such things difficult were told to pay particular attention to points of junction between different clearly defined strata. These precise and yet simple collecting instructions were published in the local newspapers.[5] In York, the collections that resulted were fed into the inductive machine to be regurgitated as interpretations of local geological phenomena. In Scarborough and Whitby the discourse on such subjects had its own particular philosophical bias.

If the York society was to achieve its hoped-for understanding of the county’s geology, it needed collectors on the spot as new material became available, and before it could be acquired by rivals or sold on. For the coastal societies this was not a problem. Their ambitions were to be met from their own small hinterland, over which they might attempt to hold dominion. The key to the success of each philosophical society’s collecting strategy, then, lay first and foremost in the personnel it could attract into its membership. This allegiance was invariably built upon local attachment to a town, city or county. Each society developed its own mechanisms for encouraging this sense of attachment. The society in York provides a useful model through which to investigate these mechanisms. Its collections were, after all, to be built on that same spirit of mutual co-operation that was also to fund its building; on the face of it, co-operation built on rank, honour and patronage. In this the York society was as typical as any other.

Far from being derived from a single social stratum – the new and the dissenting middle classes – the York society was a microcosm of the county’s middle and upper class élite. This had been possible not only through the city’s elevated position within the county but also through a strong and well-connected leadership, here in the form of its president, William Vernon. The most successful societies were invariably dominated by the ambitions of one man. A stamp of credibility was added by the association of a group of noblemen who acted largely as non-participatory patrons. Depending on its size, a society might also acquire a complement of scientific literati. A further group of individuals established themselves as parish representatives or outpost observers both inside and outside the main collecting region. Existing collectors were also brought into the fold, or patronised, depending on gender and social status. Professional men, merchants and the more affluent sectors of the local middle classes made up the bulk of the membership and exploited their own personal networks for society ends. Finally, there were the curators, servants of the society, whose primary duty was to give the museum its intellectual edge.[6]

Social interactions between these groups reflected society as a whole; internally honour and patronage in one form or another, rather than sterling, became the currency with which to win or buy favours, and through which the collections would grow. In this role they were universally recognised, particularly as science remained almost entirely a private enterprise: ‘In a poor country this is at least a cheap way of advancing science.’ The Yorkshire Philosophical Society, then, was built from the top down. A power base of the social and scientific élite gave the society the status necessary to attract lowlier members. In this it was probably not untypical of societies forming across Britain though the social, cultural and political make-up of towns and cities had become increasingly diverse with the progress of industry and commerce. Such stratification was not always as apparent as it was in York, nor were all societies so drawn by the determination to collect. But even in those towns, such as Leeds, where the society outwardly proclaimed an avoidance of servile patronage, the same structural elements were in place. Only here patronage was internalised within the class. The city had long been dominated by wealthy mercantile interests and inevitably it was these, rather than the county’s landed establishment, which formed a leading element in the society’s governance.[7]

On touring Yorkshire in the 1820s, Richard Phillips reflected that three quarters of the population formed the working classes and were largely shunned by all others. A further ten per cent were an ‘aristocracy of mere craft and position’ which had arisen in the current generation and aspired to join the professional group. Fifteen per cent were professional men – ‘poor and proud, or rich and lordly’. These formed the core of the new societies. The professionals aspired to the status of the largely insular local aristocracy, who made up a further one per cent of the populace and whom they ‘aped’.[8]

The society élite

The Revd William Vernon, later aided by his scientific advisor John Phillips amongst others, provided the leadership and management which took the York society from a paper idea to the peak of philosophical achievement. He returned to York from the University of Oxford in 1814 indoctrinated with the new fascination for geology and retaining strong links with his geological mentors Buckland and Conybeare. The combination of youthful vigour, intelligence, wide contacts and rank made him a natural choice for the society’s first President. But Vernon was no collector and had, at an early stage, to canvass opinion as to the best way to proceed. Here his close tie with Buckland paid dividends; Buckland knew Yorkshire geology well, including the potential sources of specimens. Within a very short time Vernon became a master of acquisition, promoting donation, acquiring funds for purchase, bribing collectors with honorary memberships and flattery, patronising fledgling scientists, encouraging and undertaking fieldwork, exploiting his extensive family network and friends, and ruthlessly excluding his competitors from the spoils of excavation. While Phillips’s advice would give the society’s collecting programme a scientific complexion, it was only by Vernon’s zealousness, diplomacy and strategic thinking that these collections became a reality.

In 1830, Vernon’s father acquired the estates of the Harcourt’s through his paternal grandmother’s side of the family. Early in 1831, William Vernon and his siblings took on this name, and he resigned as president to be replaced by Viscount Milton, in the belief that with the society fully operational such a figurehead was now needed. The role of president was largely nominal and the management of the society remained in the hands of the vice-presidents, who included Vernon Harcourt. Like other Yorkshire aristocrats Milton had built up a close association with Yorkshire manufacturers in Leeds, Sheffield and elsewhere, and had presented petitions on their behalf in favour of parliamentary reform and repeal of the Corn Laws. As Earl Fitzwilliam, although a political liberal, he was one of the most powerful peers in Britain capable of influencing 50 members of Parliament. In the 1820s, two thirds of parliamentary representation in England and Wales was in the control of just 177 individuals; in this few could match Fitzwilliam.[9]

The president was supported by a team of up to thirteen vice presidents who were initially chosen from some of the county’s most eminent families (later the vice presidents more closely reflected the more ardent of the general membership). They ranked just below those designated as patrons. These consisted of members of the gentry, including baronets and the younger sons of peers. Many of these subsequently acquired titles, such as James Wortley who became Baron Wharncliffe in 1826 and Paul Beilby Thompson, later Baron Wenlock. They also included men like Sir George Cayley, a Whig politician and archetypal gentleman scientist who with Johnstone also assisted the formation of the Scarborough society. When William Smith was pioneering stratigraphy in the late eighteenth century, so Cayley had been pioneering the principles of aviation. In 1853 he achieved the first manned flight and, in Smithian fashion, was acclaimed the father of aviation. In his lifetime, however, he was known more as a kind patron, and for the invention of artificial limbs and improvements to steam vehicles – achievements whose practical worth could then be recognised. These men, like many others in the society’s élite, such as Richard Bethell, a major Yorkshire landowner, and George Strickland, were or were to become parliamentary representatives.[10] Others became High Sheriff of Yorkshire. 

The county held a complex web of large interconnected families who frequently intermarried and through ‘names and arms’ clauses of inheritance often acquired the estates, the family name and hereditary titles of heirless relatives through the female line or through marriage, as indeed did Vernon’s family. In wealthy and well-established families these estates were frequently given to younger sons who stood little chance of inheriting their own family’s fortunes. Members of this class mixed socially with others of the same stratum. They often shared similar educational backgrounds and by marriage formed a very close network. Johnstone, for example, married the sister of William Vernon; the Stricklands became heirs to the fortunes of the Cholmleys in 1778 with the family name frequently changing backwards and forwards. They also became linked to the Constables. William Worsley, of Hovingham Hall, married Sarah Philadelphia in 1827, a daughter of Sir George Cayley. His father had also married into this family. Cayley’s son, William, continued the interconnections by marrying the daughter of Marcus Worsley. In 1822, Anne Holwell married William Danby of Swinton Park, one of the York society’s active supporters. Five years after his death in 1833 she married William Vernon’s brother, Rear Admiral Octavius Vernon Harcourt, and also outlived him. She retained Swinton Park.[11]

This interconnectivity placed the York society firmly within the county establishment, attached to some of the oldest families in Yorkshire, which had held a position of wealth and privilege for centuries. The Cholmleys and the Thompsons, for example, were long-standing MPs for Scarborough in the sixteenth century; they were major employers, magistrates and so on. Their names and rank were synonymous.[12]

Patrons were relatively few in number. The York society’s patrons were Vernon’s father, Edward, Archbishop of York, the Earls of Carlisle and Tyrconnel and the Lords Stourton, Wharncliffe and Macdonald.[13] To these were added the Viscounts Morpeth and Milton. As Milton told Vernon: ‘My name is perfectly at your service, and if I can be of use in furthering the objects of the Philosophical Society and any other way …’. Patrons gave the society an air of respectability; affirming the accepted social order with benefits for both parties. Patronage was reciprocal and presented ‘patterns of mutual expectation’. At its most basic level, the philosophers were doffing their caps to the great, underpinning the rights of rank and conferring on them a mantle of benevolence and intellectualism. Such symbols and signals were important within urban politics at this time.[14]

The York society’s links into the county establishment also gave it a lobbying force within parliament and government; provincial scientific interests were, potentially, to influence national support for science. By association, the philosophers’ pursuits were given a cultured and sophisticated complexion. In a country indoctrinated with the importance and validity of rank such associations would attract social climbers into the membership. By this means the society gained a most useful marketing tool. Like other assemblies, the Yorkshire philosophical society became an entry point for those nouveaux riches of trade, manufacture and the professions, who wished to mix with the county establishment. The rise of ‘new men’ had long been ‘a distinctive feature of English History’, upon which the gentry and the social stability of the past were founded. The philosophical society gave access to the élite, a means of proclaiming one’s status and a chance to satisfy ‘an appetite for gentlemanly pursuit’ rather than simply and more obviously ‘an appetite for natural knowledge’. In this age of accumulating wealth, the door to the gentry was open; ‘a man could call himself what he thought he could carry off’. ‘In the middle classes we note an almost universal unfixedness of position. Every man is rising or falling or hoping that he shall rise, or fearing that he shall sink.’ Although many made their fortunes, the period was a difficult one economically. The merchant classes in Bristol and Leeds, for example, frequently opted out of their business ventures when profits waned, sometimes to live the life of the gentleman. In adopting traditional values, those who rose inevitably changed to take on the airs of the class within which they wished to be subsumed; snobbery was an expectation of transition.[15]

Philosophical societies varied considerably in social make-up and intent. The York society internalised its system of patronage, men of the establishment formed its core. In London, the Geological Society was similarly organised: ‘It was an exclusive club of leisured gentlemen; science had created a self-sustaining social structure, in which to participate was a generally esteemed mark of distinction’. Similarly the Royal Society included this mixture of social and scientific status, together with those who wanted to be seen in the same frame. It included many social climbers, who had inherited, acquired or married wealth. Inevitably the same processes of legitimisation took place in the philosophical societies but here it also became a means to achieve collective ends which included the pursuit of natural philosophy and the elevation of civic cultural status. On comparing late eighteenth-century models of the provincial learned society with earlier examples, Porter noted that ‘for the first time, it was the science itself which achieved sufficient cohesion, attraction and importance as to be its own social glue’ and overcome differences in ‘wealth, occupations, professions, in education, in religion’. He cites the Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society and the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall as illustrating ‘how a range of enthusiasts, highly disparate in terms of rank, class and profession, could be brought together … as a result of a shared concern with geology’. But rather than being moved to the background, certain of these key attributes were exploited for their exclusivity so as to create a honey pot to attract an audience of participants in the society’s scientific and educational enterprise. In similar fashion the relatively lowly Whitby Literary and Philosophical Society sought the support of those locals of ‘respectability and property’; which by implication was conferred upon those who joined.[16]

Within the urban élite political persuasion did not always dominate relations and cultural bridges were possible; a shared conservatism could act as a bond in a period of change, and seems to have done so in Leeds and Bristol. In the unstable world of local politics support for a philosophical society could have all kinds of advantages. Property qualifications for serving in local government excluded around 97 per cent of the population.[17] Nepotism and religious qualification restricted this still further. The local élite really were an élite. Whether the mercantile dynasties of Leeds or the county gentry of York, they had almost absolute control over local institutions. Those of dissenting faiths made up a considerable proportion of the provincial middle classes but were excluded from the English universities, local government, the army and navy, and so on. By 1820 dissenters made up 30 per cent of the population; dissent was threatening to become more popular than the state religion. Often well-educated and wealthy, they were an important intellectual component in the local community, their position within society gave ‘added piquancy … to material success and social emulation’.[18]However, they were not excluded from the philosophical societies, which embodied a much wider social, religious and political make-up. As such these societies became places where it was hoped local politics could be defused, where bridges could be built between established wealth and new wealth, between the politics of stability and the politics of change, between the religion of the state and the religion of the people. This was to be achieved not by making these central to the affairs of the society, as they were in so many other institutions, but rather by removing them, in an overt sense, from its discourse. 

Political allegiances were important in the local community but not more so than perceptions of wealth. Alliances both in politics and marriage were built across traditional class boundaries, making for complex readings of the local scene. Society meetings became mechanisms for cross-fertilisation so that patronage could be appropriately placed amongst friends.[19] The societies formed a medium to adjust middle-class structures – as much to allow the nouveaux riches to enter the middle-class fold, as for the gentlemen of established families to bring them into this fold and thus retain control.

The social mechanism which these societies manipulated relied upon a ‘uniformity of upper-class taste’ dictated by the aristocracy but which filtered down to the lesser gentry and the middle classes. It was not simply a matter of taste but the very manner of wealth that the middle classes wished to imitate. Thus there was a desire to patronise. ‘Charitable and other social endeavours’ had political significance and as such had to be public events: ‘For what was important was not merely that an individual should be a substantial businessman, or an active philanthropist, but that he should personally be seen to be such by a large, attentive and admiring audience.’[20] Even if the core of philosophical societies were not ‘marginal men’, as was the case in Leeds, they would none-the-less need a forum within which to prove the point. An embodiment of ‘That eternal vying with each other; that spirit of show; that lust of imitation which characterise our countrymen and countrywomen’. The landed gentry made up nearly 50 per cent of the York society’s membership.[21]

In the first months of its existence, then, the Yorkshire Philosophical Society had established a power base which would act as a magnet to men of science, collectors, and others interested in this new social phenomenon. Vernon Harcourt was later to build a similar infrastructure for the British Association for the Advancement of Science. On its first meeting, held in York in September 1831, Murchison remarked that its importance lay not least in ‘bringing the working men of science into communication with individuals of rank and property’.[22]  

Honoured guests

The York society, having aspirations so much greater than its neighbours in Leeds, Whitby, Hull and Scarborough, sought to connect itself directly with the literati of science, and in particular geology. The most noted geologists of the day were added to its list of honorary members, placing York in the minds and networks of the scientific establishment. Such connections provided local philosophers with up-to-date scientific intelligence and associated specimens, which they could then incorporate into their own researches.[23] York intended to participate in pioneering geology and bask in the reflected glory of the science’s major successes.

While the country’s leading geologists might be flattered by the honour, they too had much to gain from the relationship. Geology was not without its controversies. It is no artifice of historical method that the period seems wrought with rival theories and concepts.[24] At the very least, by giving copies of their works and collections of specimens they could gain the allegiance of a society that had influential patrons. Their scientific merits would be broadcast to all who took an interest in such intellectual goings on. These men also found the societies invaluable networking tools giving direct access to discoveries made in the field, or museum, in distant parts of Britain. As Phillips told Murchison, ‘[I] beg to request your attention to our Society here, of which there are several members willing to be usefully employed. Allow me in addition to request as a favour that if there be any points interesting to yourself on which I can furnish or procure information you will lay on me your agreeable commands.’[25]

This information the doyens of the subject could take up and mould to their own uses, as Buckland had done with Kirkdale. Indeed it was often outsiders who derived scientific kudos from society collections; the society would be satisfied with the role of supplier and publicist. For the touring geologist, as were all the science’s leading exponents, museum collections really did provide an index to what was in the field, and could save them countless hours trying to discern what was worthy of investigation. In November 1824 it took Buckland but a moment to discern, from viewing the collections Phillips had organised for the York society, that the ‘Malton Oolite’ was the local equivalent of a rock he knew as the ‘Coral Rag’.[26]

These collections also provided models of geology which could be superimposed on other locales, much as Murchison was to use Smith and Phillips’s interpretations of the Yorkshire coast as the key to solving the riddle of the Brora coal in Scotland. There might also be other benefits for the local society. Sir Humphry Davy was so delighted with the honour bestowed on him that he, in reciprocation, immediately proposed Vernon as a Fellow of the Royal Society. By these means the York society became attached to the scientific establishment, an attachment further strengthened with Phillips’s career progression and with the inaugural meeting of the British Association.[27]

The York society’s list of honorary members also included many other individuals who might contribute specimens or labour. The Whitby society, like its contemporaries, bestowed honorary membership on those ‘gentlemen who have rendered important services to the society’.[28] The fossil collector in a small way attempted to emulate and even upstage the discoveries of the likes of Buckland, Sedgwick, Lyell and Murchison. To be ranked alongside them in a list of those honoured did much for their social and scientific credibility. Such lists conferred valuable status on the recipient; John Phillips’s honorary associations acted as a substitute for hard academic qualifications, and were frequently printed after his name. In an era when status was all and when there were few other ways of distinguishing the eminent from the armchair philosopher, such associations were of great practical use.[29] As Smith’s and Phillips’s status rose so they too provided a draw: ‘It will give me great pleasure to be enrolled amongst its honorary members, by the side of my friends Phillips and Smith.’ Honorary membership, then, became a vital mechanism for patronising collectors and extending the collecting network into neighbouring regions where collectors had no natural allegiance to York. The societies and the recipients gave emphasis to the honour but both probably realised that this was often little more than a political and economic device.[30]

Honorary membership was not, however, without its costs to the society. A society would lose potential membership monies, and have to provide free curatorial and membership services, and complimentary reports. It also had to be sure that any individual so honoured would act in the interests of the society; any impropriety would reflect badly. The Yorkshire Philosophical Society was very liberal in adding names to its list of honorary members, names which did little to dispel the local view that this was essentially a geological society. This list not only established links with the geological literati but also built relationships with the most important scientific and collecting communities in Britain: in Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford, Scarborough, Sheffield and Whitby.

Whitby philosophers could afford few honorary members, and these were generally given to officials from neighbouring societies together with a few collecting men in outlying areas such as John Williamson in Scarborough and Robert Pickering in Malton. This was of no great concern to the coastal society, which had little real need for this collecting device; if it wanted to bribe favours it could do so with Whitby fossils: ‘It is no small advantage to this Institution, that it has access to an inexhaustible store of fossil treasures, from which it can augment the collections of other Societies, or of literary friends residing at a distance, who may be expected in return to supply our Museum with the rarities of their respective districts.’[31]

While Whitby lacked the wealth to patronise the rich and famous with honorary memberships, its fossil collections, particularly its magnificent fossil crocodile, began to give the town status amongst these so-admired sophisticated and wealthy classes. Late in 1827 it had the celebrity of a visit of Prince von Pückler-Muskau. The visits of other ‘strangers’ also provided useful marketing capital: ‘most of whom belong to the higher classes of society. Several gentlemen of high scientific and literary attainments have examined the collection minutely.’[32] It was more efficient for the smaller coastal societies to restrict honours to local individuals who would, through collecting, assist in raising the profile of the institution and thus attract more eminent strangers.

Honorary memberships were also used to build up mutual links for the exchange or movement of fossils and other specimens between societies. Invariably it was the societies’ secretaries who were honoured; if one is bestowing favours with a purpose it is perhaps better to patronise an individual, who can feel the warmth of the honour, rather than an institution.[33] It was largely through the offices of the secretary that exchanges and purchases were made. In the case of the societies in York and Whitby, this strengthened links between supplier and customer. Officers of neighbouring societies often donated material to their sister institutions in their own names. Such actions served to strengthen intersociety bonds, acting as a kind of mutual grooming.

Distant friends

The personal networks of members were also exploited to further society collecting. Vernon’s own family provides a good example. He was one of 16 children and had 78 first cousins several of whom became important contributors of material from further afield.[34] As children of the Archbishop of York, Vernon’s siblings formed an influential network: George and Granville were barristers, the former was also MP for Lichfield and then Oxfordshire, and the latter was MP for Aldborough, Yorkshire and then Retford. Egerton, Leveson and Charles were clerics in York, Stokesley, and Rothbury in Northumberland. Frederick and Octavius were senior naval men, while Francis achieved the rank of colonel in the army. Each lived in a different part of the country and could provide suites of comparative material.[35] Vernon’s father, Edward, was married to Lady Anne Leverson Gower, third daughter of Granville, 1st Marquis of Stafford. William Vernon’s family status and contacts opened the gates to large estates across Britain. Ever aware of his society’s collecting mission, geological specimens from mines, borings or quarries on these estates were often promised to the society by their owners. This, however, wasn’t simple eclecticism. Invariably his aim was to acquire comparative material which might resolve the county’s stratigraphic puzzles. 

The Vernon family’s attachment to the traditional professions – the church, the military, the law and medicine – was indicative of the class that became the lifeblood of these new societies. Indeed Porter found that the medical and theological professions, together with men of wealth and rank, had been the driving force behind the development of geology since the seventeenth century. A distinguishing feature of this class was ‘their comparative aloofness from the struggle for income’. Amongst Vernon’s family it was his cleric brothers who became most actively involved in the affairs of the York society, particularly Leveson and Charles. Leading scientists and popular magazines encouraged the participation of clerics in natural history, not least for its spiritual and social benefits. As president of the Geological Society, Fitton made a direct appeal to the rural clergy and medical men, suggesting that they relieve the monotony of their lives by investigating local geology. ‘There is no district that will not furnish sufficient interest and novelty to an attentive inquirer, not merely to repay his own exertions, but to instruct the most learned, and enlarge the bounds of our science.’[36]

The clergy made up 23 per cent of the York society’s membership. The Whitby society, which had little interest in networking, made less use of this group; only ten per cent of its members were men of the church. But there were also religious differences. York was centred on the Anglican establishment – indeed it could not be more so, with Vernon’s father Archbishop. Whitby’s main player was a Non-conformist. As geographical dispersion was an inevitable consequence of their livelihood, these contacts were spread throughout the rural parishes of Yorkshire. The clergy also had their own contacts in distant parts, arising perhaps from a university education but easily extended through their Christian brotherhood. Country livings were rarely fully absorbing and many missed the intellectual interactions of their college past; Vernon was not unusual in maintaining and exploiting his old university friends throughout his life. Indeed, one contemporary view of the worth of a university education was as a means to establish a network amongst the country’s élite. That élite contained a fair number who shared his vocation: sixty per cent of those leaving Oxford did so to pursue a career in the church. As associates of the central philosophical society, rural clerics were provided with challenges encouraging them to investigate their local area and to report back with specimens. Phillips later suggested that geology owed a debt of gratitude to churchmen,[37] such as Vernon, for liberating science from the attentions of ‘well-meaning but ill-reasoning theologians, who sometimes appeared to forget that they were not endowed with “super-natural knowledge of the mysteries of nature”.’ 

Like Vernon, many of these clergymen were the younger sons of peers or men of distinction who might, despite their junior status within the family, still inherit considerable lands. Phillips’s Holderness friend, the Revd Christopher Sykes of Roos, was the third son of Sir Christopher Sykes whose family had risen to landed status through the mercantile classes of Leeds and Hull. Having acquired land cheaply in the Yorkshire wolds during the French wars, Sir Christopher set about enclosing it, and transformed a wild landscape into some of the region’s richest farming land. Some of this land he left to his Cambridge-educated Reverend son in 1801, to provide him with an independent living. This included the manor at Roos. The second son, Sir Tatton Sykes, inherited the remainder of the estates in 1823. A notoriously uncultured hunting obsessive, he was the antithesis of his brothers and his father. The family also had a political link to York. Sir Christopher and his first son Sir Mark, a collector of Elizabethan books, had been MPs for the city. It was not simply the clergy’s learning and free time that made them useful allies in science, but also their frequent connection to wealth, power and influence.[38]

Medical men formed another professional group that was, according to Charles Lyell, making particularly important contributions to the progress of provincial science and natural history.[39]However, many had no university education, but Lyell hoped that these new societies might at least make up for this deficiency. Some members of this group were also not without wealth. The Yorkshire Philosophical Society’s Dr. Stephen Beckwith, for example, left the incredible sum of £40,000 to charities in the city on his death.

The new societies also nurtured a new profession, that of the curator and professional geologist. Smith and Phillips were perhaps exceptional examples of this class. They brought with them an extensive network of geological contacts (see table 4.1) and supplied a wide range of curatorial, scientific, promotional and educational functions which the societies acquired cheaply. Honorary memberships were often used as a means of rewarding their loyalty, strengthening bonds and keeping costs down.

Table 4.1 John Phillips’s list of contacts in Yorkshire consisting of philosophical society men and dealers. From a slip of paper enclosed in OUM Box 82, Item 17, Phillips Notebook and Journal 1827–1828.

As well as observers close at hand, a society wishing to adopt a role in front-line science needed comparative collections from further afield. Personal networks easily made this possible and in York the strongest of these links connected the county town to the rich geological country around Bath where Smith and Phillips had first developed their expertise. Amongst contacts in this area was Thomas Meade of Chatley Lodge, who possessed a fine collection but also acted as a broker for material arriving from his mineral-collecting cousin William in Philadelphia. He also acted on behalf of collectors working the productive strata at Chippenham, Bradford upon Avon and Warminster. Meade was an associate of the Revd Benjamin Newton, a Bath man who had moved to Yorkshire. From 1814 to his death in 1830, Newton was Rector of Wath near Ripon, though his link to the town predates this period. In 1807 he became an honorary member of the Geological Society and thus that society’s first Yorkshire representative. He had earlier been Rector at Norton St Phillip near Bath where he was also a neighbour of Smith’s friend, and Phillips’s tutor, the distinguished naturalist the Revd Benjamin Richardson. Meade was also an early honorary member of the Geological Society. He, Richardson and Newton were similarly honoured in York. The much-travelled William Salmond, himself a keen geologist, had also resided in Bath and Cheltenham for a time. Like Newton he retained strong links with friends in this area.[40] George Goldie, a Scottish doctor who later became one of the York society’s most energetic secretaries, was in 1812 practising in Warminster. Through complex patterns of interaction the networks of Smith, Phillips, Goldie, Salmond and others became intertwined with those of Richardson, Townsend, Newton, the Houltons, the Jellys and the Meades who lived around Bath. These networks were easily attached to the Bristol set of Conybeare, the Sanders, Johann Miller, Cumberland, De la Beche and James Johnson amongst others. Also in the area was Etheldred Benett, a pioneering female geologist and William Lonsdale who was soon to move to a prominent position in the capital. Through Conybeare, De la Beche and other university contacts, including Vernon’s family connections, this network also took in Buckland and his colleagues in Oxford and prominent Welsh naturalist Lewis Dillwyn. Largely composed of professional men, each of whom kept a cabinet of fossils, this group was constantly evolving and extending as its participants moved location or serviced distant parishes. The cultural worlds of York, Bath and Bristol became entwined at many points of contact. They linked what was to become the great northern capital of the new science to an area which had, in an earlier period, been a crucible for that science’s initial development.

The York network was also extended in other directions. In 1826, one of the York society’s secretaries, Favil James Copsie, returned from Gateshead with coal plants from John Bell, and from Norwich with Crag shells from a Mr Sparsall and Chalk fossils from Samuel Woodward. Woodward, a banker and merchant who soon published on his own county’s geology, became a valuable extension of the York network contributing considerable quantities of Norfolk material derived from his own scientific investigations.[41] Such material might provide useful keys in cross-country correlation. 

These distant observers were frequently corresponding members to a number of societies. The society in Leeds, for example, also had strong links with Meade, Woodward and Samuel Sharp, another contributor of specimens to York. Sharp, the vicar of Wakefield, had important connections with Cambridge University and had been Curate of Wheldrake between 1796 and 1799; this was later Vernon’s living.[42] These men were building monuments to themselves in several centres using fossils which illustrated their own philosophical interests. They also benefited from exchanges.

Networks were often shared and exploited by others. Information and specimens might flow into a scientific centre via one network and be dispersed by another. Thus through the offices of William Buckland, the Yorkshire Philosophical Society established contact with, and supplied fossils to, Count Kaspar Maria von Sternberg, the Czech palaeobotanist. By the same device, duplicate specimens derived from the collector network were used to fuel exchanges with societies in the philosophical network. The British Association for the Advancement of Science, which met in a different philosophical centre each year, provided yet another audience for local fossil discoveries.[43]

The core and the periphery

In addition to these networks of contacts there was, of course, the society’s hard-core of ordinary members.[44] Every philosophical society had its own complement of scientific men. In addition to Vernon, the York society could boast Thomas Allis, the ornithologist; Revd William Hincks, a botanist; the brothers Thomas and James Backhouse, botanists and horticulturists; and the Drs George Goldie, Stephen Beckwith and H. Stephens Belcombe, together with James Cooke, Jonathan Gray and Daniel Tuke – all men with a keen interest in science. In Hull, John Alderson, William Hey Dikes and John Edward Lee, amongst others, were keen geologists, naturalists and antiquarians. In Whitby, perhaps only Richard Ripley was sufficiently unprejudiced in science, though it is uncertain to what degree John Bird fully adopted the scriptural views expressed by his co-author, George Young. Young was also a knowledgeable geologist. These were later joined by Martin Simpson. In Scarborough, the father and son John and William Williamson, Dr Peter Murray, William Bean and John Dunn, and later John Leckenby, gave the town a strong tradition in fossil collecting. Leeds had Edward Sanderson George and a succession of first rate naturalists. Similarly Newcastle could claim a particularly rich community of naturalists. In Wakefield, the Revd Samuel Sharp was prominent. For such men the society provided a forum for debate and performance, a focus for patronage through donation.[45] While the membership of these societies often seemed broad and far reaching, each had a core of participants who drove the society forward and participated enthusiastically in its affairs.

Excluded from membership of the Geological Society, and given restricted access to the proceedings of the philosophical societies, female participants in geology are inevitably difficult figures to track down. They apparently formed a tiny minority of donors to these societies, though social conventions probably hide their true participation. There are, of course, well-known and notable exceptions, and indeed a few contemporaries, such as George Cumberland, made much of the need to give women their ‘full share of the honours’. Women were increasingly being encouraged to take a role in natural history, no longer to be ‘domestic managers, or household ornaments, but … rational companions to rational men’.[46] But such  recommendations still did not give them status as individuals. There do survive, however, rare glimpses of geology as a social activity for the provincial philosopher and his family, or the Survey geologist in the 1840s. For many philosophers it was by this means – a social diversion on a leisure outing, which might include sketching, poetry and a picnic, rather than by ardent fieldwork – that specimens were gathered for the local society. Much was also acquired from dealers and donated. 

At the first meeting of the British Association in York, in 1831, women were in attendance in large numbers, and many leading lights in the organisation saw their presence as essential to its progress, not least because it encouraged the presence of male members with wives and families. The Association, however, made a distinction ‘between evenings of business and lecture evenings on which ladies may properly and with pleasure attend and be instructed as well as amused.’ Their direct participation was not even considered. It has been suggested that the locus of the scientific woman was the home rather than the scientific institution. They did, however, share the field. The great women fossil collectors of the period such as the Philpot sisters of Lyme Regis (Mary, Margaret and especially Elizabeth), or Eltheldred Benett, were, like Anning, also great field collectors. While field excursions are often described in terms of their male participants, these men were frequently not alone. Mantell, Buckland and Murchison were regularly accompanied by their wives, Phillips by his sister, De la Beche in Lyme by Anning and the Philpots, and in future decades the Geological Survey by a coterie of female accomplices. Buckland apparently met his wife through a shared taste in the geological literature. Murchison’s wife – a ‘bas bleu’ – ‘had so much influence over her husband as to wean him from his frivolous amusements and enlist him in the cause of science’.[47]

In botany the female tradition is clearly established, but in geology it has hardly been explored. It is, however, difficult to support the notion that ‘Geology was, from the 1820s to the mid-century – the age when it flourished in Britain, particularly as a popular pastime – a pursuit undertaken almost exclusively by men, and a militantly masculine science.’ The culture of geology described here is not one ‘rough-hewn’. The degree to which participants endured the elements or harsh terrain correlates with the earnestness with which they pursued geology. This earnestness was driven by social imperatives other than perceptions of manliness and was not specifically gender related. [48] Dressing-down to undertake fieldwork, which has been noted by a number of authors, does not in itself indicate a manly science. Contemporary expression may see in Buckland a ‘manly spirit’, for example in his defence of geology against over-pious clergy, but this was symptomatic of the male role and not specifically of the new science. Participation in geology came in many forms and provided a range of benefits from income to status. It was undertaken by both men and women at all levels, but interpreting the female contribution remains problematic.

The museum culture, which was effectively born with the philosophical societies, was élitist from birth. Such exclusivity was not viewed as the handicap it was later to become. Within the context of the collecting problem facing provincial museums in the early nineteenth century, exclusion created a unity of purpose, a sense of belonging and a means of attraction. While the social relationships present in these societies are well understood, collections added another nuance capable of reinforcing and adjusting these social connections in a very material way.

[1].          For ‘best way …’, Sheppard (1916: 1), a later curator of Hull’s museums, who was so afflicted. For ‘the chase’, Sir Robert Witt quoted by Hermann (1972:  22).

[2].          James Johnson (c.1764-14 August 1844), not to be confused with his son James Rawlins Johnson (c.1789-1841) who had similar interests (Torrens 1978, Geological Curator2(2), 62). Sowerby connection in this paper, Buckland connection inferred from Gordon (1894: 134) which refers to a discussion following Buckland’s paper on Saurian Remains at the 1836 BAAS. Cumberland recommended the visit to Webster, 12 September 1826, Fitzwilliam Museum. Phillips’s ‘illustrative solution’  from OUM Phillips Box 82 folder 19a, Journal for 1829, 13 October 1829. One Johnson reptile find is mentioned by Cumberland (1829: 345). The nature and influence of Smith’s collection is given in Anon. (1874b: 510). See also Allen (1997: 204).

[3].          YPS (1828) Annual Report for 1827.

[4].          WL&PS (1834) Annual Report, 12. Size was an important factor in acquisition. The private collector was interested in ‘types’ (an ichthyosaur, a plesiosaur, etc.) with little regard for the individual qualities of species. This can be detected in Anning’s complaint that an extraordinary ichthyosaur in a three metre long case was too large for a private collection, for which see Taylor and Torrens (1987: 145). 

[5].          YPS Minutes of General Meetings 1822-1839, 6 January 1823. For division of labour see Alborn (1996: 105).

[6].          See also Shapin and Thackray (1974) for an overview of scientific culture particularly with respect to literary and philosophical societies.

[7].          ‘In a poor …’, David Brewster to Babbage, 12 February 1830, discussing the need for ‘some order of Civil Merit’ in Morrell & Thackray (1984: 24). Leeds, Morris (1990: 233, 238).

[8].          Richard Phillips in White (1988: 86). See also DNB. The figures are not derived from a census and undoubtedly reflect the author’s radical bias.

[9].          Charles William Wentworth Fitzwilliam (4 May 1786-4 October 1857) who became Earl Fitzwilliam in 1833. MP for Yorkshire from 1807 to 1830, Boase (1892). For Milton’s links to dissenting manufacturers in Leeds, see Wilson (1971: 171), and in Sheffield, see Cannadine (1980: 43). For the use of Milton’s name, see Vernon Harcourt, York to Milton, 18 January 1831 and 21 January 1832, in Morrell and Thackray (1984: 31, 123). Thompson (1963: 47, 205) for his political power, and Morrell (1994b:  347-8) for his role in scientific culture.

[10].        On the gentry, Altick (1973: 25). For a discussion of the relationships between status and learning, see Shapin (1991). James Archibald Stuart Wortley (1776-1846) was elected MP for Bossiney, Cornwall in 1797.  Resisted the Reform Bill (1831) becoming Lord Privy Seal under Peel (Hailstone 1869: 191). Paul Beilby Thompson (d. 9 May 1852).  Previously Paul Beilby Lawley, a son of the sister of Beilby Thompson (d. 1799), who acquired the name and considerable property in 1820. The Lawley family had originated in the Wenlock area and married into the mercantile family of the Thompsons of Scarborough and York who became the Barons Wenlock in 1839 (Dyson and Roberts 1997: 4). They have vast estates at Escrick. Sir George Cayley (27 December 1773-15 December 1857), experimented with gliders and aircraft design. See, for example, his 1809 paper ‘On aerial navigation’, Nicholson’s Journal24, 164-73. See also Boase (1892); The Times, 18 December 1857, 6; Hartley and Ingilby (1961: 110-14). There are a number of biographies charting his discoveries. Baker (1882: 447) for late nineteenth-century opinion on his discoveries. Bethell (10 May 1772-25 December 1864), for which see English (1990: 56-61). George Strickland (30 November 1760-5 June 1832) uncle of Hugh Strickland, the geologist.

[11].        For ‘names and arms’, see English (1990: 88). Johnstone marriage, see Morrell and Thackray (1981: 114). Cholmley and Strickland lineage, see English (1990: 25) and Ward (1967: 18-19). William Worsley (1792-5 March 1879),  made Baronet in 1838, See Boase (1892) and The Times, 7 March 1879, 9For Danby and Holwell see Walford (1875: 454).

[12].        Park (1886) and English (1990: 201).

[13].        Edward Venables Vernon (1757-1847).  Educated at Christ’s College, Oxford in 1786 (Hailstone (1869: 189). Earl of Carlisle, George William Frederick Howard (1802-1864), the 7th Earl (Hailstone 1869: 200). Earl of Tyrconnel, John Delavel Carpenter (1790-1853). Lord Stourton, William Joseph Stourton (1776-1846). Lord Macdonald, Godfrey Bosville-Macdonald (1775-1832).

[14].        ‘My name …’, Viscount Milton, Milton, near Peterborough to Vernon, 16 November 1827, in Morrell and Thackray (1984: 21).  Vernon Harcourt saw the society as requiring ‘the nursing of persons near York as well as the support of more influential names at a distance’, Vernon, York to Milton, 18 January 1831, in Morrell and Thackray (1984: 31). For patronage as dyadic, Turner (1990: 185).

[15].        For ‘new men’, Perkin (1969: 57) referring to accession into the gentry and nobility; Defoe: ‘trade in England makes gentlemen’. For local political control, Thackray (1974: 678-80). Shapin (1991: 313) points to the established link between approval of and participation in scientific culture. For ‘gentlemanly pursuit’, Cannon (1978: 218); ‘natural knowledge’, Orange (1971: 321). For ‘a man …’, English (1990: 4). Altick (1973: 18) discusses the growth in social mobility. For ‘unfixedness’, W.J. Fox (1835) quoted in Gash (1979: 24). Gash  p25 points out that the middle classes lacked political and social homogeneity. For Leeds and Bristol merchants, Wilson (1971: 111-35) and Neve (1983: 183).  Rents, profits and wages under severe pressure, 1815-48, Perkin (1969: 213ff). On snobbery, Bulwer-Lytton (1830: I: 16).

[16].        For ‘exclusive club …’, Rudwick (1963: 353; 1988: 255), Porter (1977: 147) and Weindling (1997: 248-9). For ‘for the first …’, Porter (1977: 133-5). Whitby desires expressed in Anon. (1827d).

[17].        Neve (1983: 183) for Bristol. Garrard (1983: 13) and Perkin (1969: 41) on local government.

[18].        Gash (1979: 63) for 30 per cent and growth. Perkin  (1969: 72) says 50 per cent of principal inventors were dissenters and for ‘piquancy …’. Orange (1973) for dissent in York.

[19].        For societies and defusing local politics, Cooter (1984: 70). For function of wealth in local politics, Garrard (1983: 23), and Bulwer-Lytton (1830: I: 25) for cross-class alliances and the degree of fluidity in the contemporary social structure; see also Wilson (1971: 171). Perkin (1969: 45) for the role of  ‘friends’ in the gift of patronage.

[20].        Uniformity of taste, Wilson (1971: 213); for political importance, Garrard (1983: 26).

[21].        Bulwer-Litton (1830: I: 27) for ‘eternal vying …’; see also Perkin (1969: 93) for the pervasive social dominance of emulation and social ambition. Proportion of landed gentry from Pyrah (1988: 26).

[22].        Murchison, Presidential Address, 17 February 1832, Proc. Geol. Soc. Lond.1, 378. For Vernon Harcourt’s creation of the BAAS structure, see Morrell and Thackray (1981: 109).

[23].        The Bristol society also sought to attract geological luminaries; indeed in a letter to De la Beche, Conybeare’s phrasing suggests that there existed a cache of geologists who had to be included:  ‘Buckland, Sedgwick & c. – who have or may give us presents.’  Conybeare, Bristol to De la Beche, Jamaica, 19 December 1823, NMW 298.  The first act of the Manchester Geological Society, on its establishment in 1838, was to elect a group of influential geologists to honorary membership (Kargon 1977: 25).

[24].        Secord (1986b), Rudwick (1985) and Oldroyd (1990) all chose to investigate controversies.

[25].        Phillips, York  to Murchison, Geological Society, London, 21 January 1828,  in Morrell and Thackray (1984: 22).  Murchison had earned the favour by proposing Phillips as fellow of the Geological Society of London.

[26].        YPS Minutes of General Meetings, 1822-1839, 9 November 1824.

[27].        Davy, London to Vernon, 21 January 1824, in Morrell and Thackray (1984: 16). For BAAS, see Morrell and Thackray (1981). Vernon Harcourt saw the British Association as giving ‘systematic direction to philosophical research’ and indicated how this was to be achieved, Vernon Harcourt, Wheldrake to Babbage, 27 August 1831, in Morrell and Thackray (1984: 45-7).

[28].        WL&PS (1825) Annual Report2.

[29].        In contrast Shortland (1994: 32) found Buckland’s list of honours, printed in Reliquiae Diluvianae, excessive and indicative of feelings of self-worth.

[30].        ‘ It will give …’, Prof. James F.W Johnston of Durham responding to T.W. Embleton, 31 December 1837, in Davies (1889: 7).

[31].        WL&PS (1825) Annual Report2.

[32].        Hermann Ludwig Heinrich von Pückler-Muskau (30 October 1785-4 February 1871), a German writer and traveller (see Butler 1929); ‘most of …’, Anon. (1827e).

[33].        YPS Secretary George Goldie, who had been instrumental in arranging purchases from Whitby, was honoured by the latter society early in 1825. Young to Goldie, 22 February 1825, in Melmore (1942).

[34].        Phillips (1871), Orange (1973: 7), and Pyrah (1988: 20).

[35].        George Granville Venables Vernon (1785-1861); Granville Venables Vernon (1792-1879); Revd Leveson Venables Vernon (1788-1860), rector living at Stokesley near Guisborough; Revd Charles Venables Vernon of Rothbury in Northumberland; Egerton Venables Vernon (1803-1883), ecclesiastical registrar at Bishopthorpe, York; Frederick Edward Venables Vernon (1790-1883) and Octavius Henry Cyril Venables Vernon (1793-1863); Colonel Francis Vernon (b. 1801), Isle of Wight.

[36].        On doctors, etc., Porter (1978: 812). This is also apparent in the Bristol Institution (Neve 1983: 186), and the Newcastle philosophical society (Orange 1983: 220). For ‘their comparative …’, Perkin (1969: 256). ‘There is no …’, Fitton, Presidential address, 15 February 1828, Proc. Geol. Soc1, 60; see also Loudon (1835) and Shapin and Thackray (1974: 18-20).

[37].        Oxford clerics, Heyck (1982: 70). Phillips (1871: xv) on theologians.  However, Vernon’s brother, L.V. Harcourt’s (1838) Doctrine of the Deluge expressed the truth of the Flood (Morrell and Thackray 1981: 242).

[38].        Sir Christopher Sykes (1749-1801); Revd Christopher Sykes (18 October 1774-9 November 1857). Sheahan and Whellan (1856: 373), Ward (1967: 13), Allison (1984), English (1990: 62-6), Dyson and Roberts (1997: 4). YPS (1832) Annual Report for 1831.Turner (1993: 183-90) for further discussion of clerics in science. 

[39].        Lyell (1826: 172).

[40].        Thomas Meade (1753-1845), early honorary member of the Geological Society and donor of material.  Cleevely (1983: 200); Moore et al. (1991: 53). William Meade (fl.1790-29 August 1833) Irish physician and mineral collector; Am. J. Sci.25(1), 215; Am. J. Sci.26(1), 209-10. Newton, Red Marley Rectory, Bath to YPS, 2 May 1824; Thomas Meade to the YPS, 10 July 1825, YPS Letter Book. Benjamin Newton (d.15 July 1830 aged 69). Newton elected GS honorary member, 4 December 1807. William Salmond’s Bath link see earlier note.

[41].        Copsie was partner with the Tuke family in a York tea business, and also a YPS Secretary (Orange 1973). The Tukes were keen members. Samuel Woodward (3 October 1790-14 January 1838), published a Geology of Norfolk (1828), An Outline of the Geology of Norfolk(1833) and A Synoptical Table of British Organic Remains (1830).  See also Cleevely (1983: 317). YPS Daybook of John Phillips, 1 and 6 April 1826; YPS (1827) Annual Report for 1826.

[42].        Samuel Sharp (4 August 1773-9 March 1855).  Educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge where his uncle Samuel Hey was president. Another uncle, John Hey, who was Norrisian Professor of Divinity, later gave him a living before Sharp became curate of Wakefield and from 1806 to his death, vicar, for which Walker (1888: 194, 316; 1939: 287). Davis (1889) frequently confuses him with William Sharp, a surgeon of Bradford who was responsible for one incarnation of the Bradford philosophical society.

[43].        YPS (1825) Annual Report for 1824; SL&PS Minutes of Council, 8 July 1836.

[44].        Williamson (1896: 56-7).

[45].        Revd William Hincks (1794-1871), lecturer.  Thomas Backhouse (1792-1845); James Backhouse (1794-1869), sons of a Darlington banker, nurserymen. Jonathan Gray (1779-1837); Daniel Tuke (1784-1832); John Edward Lee (21 December 1808-18 August1887); Peter Murray (1828-1864); John Leckenby (20 September 1814-7 April 1877).

[46].        Cumberland (1829: 348); ‘domestic managers …’, Loudon (1835: iii).

[47].        Presence of families, Babbage, London to Daubeny, 28 April 1832, in Morrell and Thackray (1984: 137). For ‘between evening …’, Phillips, London to Vernon Harcourt, Isle of Wight, 27 May 1837, in  ibid. p. 243. Locus of home, Shteir (1987: 32). For the Philpot sisters, Edmonds (1978); for Benett, Spamer et al. (1989).For ‘bas bleu’, ‘influence …’, from Gideon Mantell, Brighton, to B. Silliman, 18 June 1834, Yale University Library.

[48].        Shteir (1996) gives a thorough overview of the changing role of women in English botany at this time. ‘Geology was …’ and ‘rough hewn’, from Shortland (1996:29) who also discusses more generally manliness in geology; this view is also taken up in an earlier article, Shortland (1994). For Buckland’s ‘manly spirit’, Presidential address, QJGS13, xxvii.

From: Simon J. Knell. The Culture of English Geology, 1815-1851: A Science Revealed Through Its Collecting (Aldershot/Burlington USA/Singapore/Sydney: Ashgate Publishing, 2000).