John Phillips M.A., D.C.L. (Oxon), LL.D.(Camb. And Dublin), F.R.S., etc.

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Date Details
1800 Born December 25th at Marden, Wiltshire of Welsh stock. Orphaned at 7 or 8 and subsequently brought up by his uncle, William Smith. After leaving school lived for a year with Rev. B. Richardson of Farley Castle near Bath, a keen naturalist. Then lived with W. Smith, accompanied him on tours, helped with geological maps etc.
1824 Smith went to York to lecture to Yorkshire Philosophical Society and Phillips went with him, the following year was appointed Museum Keeper.
1826 Paper to Philosophical Society “On the direction of the Diluvial currents of Yorkshire”.
1829 York Museum collections moved to new building in grounds of St. Mary’s Abbey. Phillips worked here till 1853. Appointed Secretary to Yorkshire Philosophical Society. Made extensive study of geology of Yorkshire. Published “Illustrations of the Geology of Yorkshire”; “Rivers, mountains, and seacoasts of Yorkshire”.
1831 Leading scientists met in Yorkshire Museum and established the British Association. Phillips was appointed Secretary (1831-63).
1834 Elected F.R.S. Appointed to Chair of Geology at King’s College, London (held for 6 years). Work in Yorkshire continued.
1840 Resigned charge of York Museum but continued Honorary Curator till1844.
1841 “Figures and descriptions of Palaeozoic fossils of Cornwall Devon and West Somerset” = result of work undertaken for Geological Survey.
1842 Began survey of Malvern Hills (Memoir published 1849, (Vol II part I).
1844 Joined Survey.
1845 Appointed Professor of Geology in Dublin University (Trinity College).
1845 Wollaston Medal.
1849 With J. Kenyon Blackwell appointed Commissioners to enquire into and report on ventilation in coal mines.
1853 Succeeded Strickland as Deputy Reader in Geology at Oxford.
1856 Appointed to Chair of Geology at Oxford (on death of Buckland).
1859 President of the Geological Society.
1860 Rede Lecture to Cambridge University, subsequently expanded into “Life on the Earth, its Origin and Succession”.
1856-1865 Various astronomical papers etc. communicated to the Royal Society.
1865 President of the British Association.
1873 President of the Geological Section of the British Association.
1874 Died April 24th.

Biographies and obituaries[edit]

History of Geological Society (1907) p. 113

Geology of Yorkshire, Kendall and Wroot (1924) p. 45

Geological Magazine (1870) p. 301

John Phillips (geologist) — Wikipedia article

Rod Leonard, Rod. John Phillips FRS (1800-1874) Yorkshire scientists and innovators. Yorkshire Philosophical Society

John Phillips (1800-1874) Geologist — York Civic Trust

Morgan, Nina. Growing up a geologist—John Phillips and William Smith. Geology Today 11 October 2019.

Morgan, Nina. The packing case that changed the world Geoscientist Online

John Phillips and the Geology of Yorkshire. Nature 130, 874 (1932).

Phillips, John (1800-1874) (DNB00) — Dictionay of National Biography — Wikisource

John Phillips — Strange Science article


Works listed in the BGS Library catalogue

Phillips, J. Seeley, H.G. Etheridge, R. 1885. Manual of geology : theoretical and practical. Part 2, stratigraphical geology and palaeontology. - London: Charles Griffin and Company

Phillips, J. Seeley, H.G. Etheridge, R. 1885. Manual of geology: theoretical and practical. Part 1, physical geology and palaeontology. - London: Charles Griffin and Company

BGS archives[edit]

Ref No Title Description
GSM/DC/A/C/3/200 J. Phillips: Letter about Phillips' appointment.
GSM/DC/A/C/3/250 J. Phillips: Letter to De la Beche reporting progress.
GSM/DC/A/C/3/356 J. Phillips: Letter to De la Beche reporting progress.
GSM/DC/A/C/4/155 J Phillips: Letter to H T De la Beche resigning his post.
GSM/DC/A/C/11/17 J Phillips: Mentioned in letter of De la Beche.
GSM/DC/A/C/11/134,146,162,185 J Phillips: Letters to H T De la Beche reporting progress.
GSM/DC/A/C/11/143 J Phillips: Mentioned in letter of De la Beche.
GSM/GL/Sl J.W.Salter John William Salter was appointed as Assistant to Edward Forbes in 1846 and became Palaeontologist in 1854 when Forbes died. He was also responsible for palaeontological work in Ireland until 1857 when W.H.Baily transferred to the Irish survey and took over.Salter helped in the preparation of publications like the Decades and catalogues for the Museum. He described the fossils of North Wales which accompanied Ramsay's memoir of 1866 and worked with Phillips on the palaeontology of the Malvern Hills. He remained in Jermyn St until 1863 when he left to work at Cambridge.
GSM/MG/P/4/69 Letter to F.W. Rudler.
IGS/GL/Qu/2/84 Letter: J Phillips to Mrs M E Quennell

Other archives[edit]

John Phillips (1800-1874): papers and drawings in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History The National Archives

John Phillips (quote from Woodward, H.B. History of the Geological Society of London, 1907)[edit]

Among the men whom De la Beche attracted to his staff, mention may here be made of John Phillips (1800- 74), nephew of William Smith, who prepared for the Geological Survey 'Figures and Descriptions of the Palaeozoic Fossils of Cornwall, Devon, and West Somerset' (1841), and an elaborate memoir on ' The Malvern Hills, compared with the Palaeozoic Districts of Abberley, Woolhope, May Hill, Tortworth, and Usk ' (1848). While these works were in hand Phillips was professor of Geology successively in King's College, London, and in Trinity College, Dublin. In 1853 he succeeded Strickland as Deputy Reader in Geology at Oxford, and three years later, on the death of Buckland, he was appointed to the professorship. ' Eminently judicious, ever courteous, genial, and conciliatory, he gained the affection of all with whom he was brought in contact ; ' while as a lecturer, ' his qualifications were always of the highest order ; ' and 1 his knowledge, most various and profound,' was communicated in a lucid and pleasant style.