Sir Charles Lyell, 1797–1875

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Biographical note

Geologist and writer, son of Charles L., of Kinnordy, Forfarshire (a distinguished botanist and student of Dante), was brought up near the New Forest. After going to school at various places in England, he was sent to Oxford, where under Buckland he imbibed a taste for science. He studied law, and was called to the Bar, but soon devoted himself to geology, and made various scientific tours on the Continent, the results of his investigations being published chiefly in the Transactions of the Geological Society, of which he was afterwards repeatedly Pres. His two chief works are The Principles of Geology (1830–33), and The Elements of Geology [1838]. In these books he combated the necessity of stupendous convulsions, and maintained that the greatest geologic changes might be produced by remote causes still in operation. He also published, among other works, Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man [1863]. He was Prof. of Geology in King’s College, London, 1831–33, Pres. of the British Association 1864, knighted in 1848, and created a Baronet in 1864. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. In his later years he was generally recognised as the greatest of living geologists.

[From A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature by John W. Cousin, 1910]

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