- William Henry Fitton
Fitton was born in
Dublinand educated at Trinity College in that city. He gained the senior scholarship in 1798, and graduated in the following year. At this time he began to take an interest in geology and to form a collection of fossils. Having adopted the medical profession, he proceeded in 1808 to Edinburgh, where he attended the lectures of Robert Jameson, and thenceforth his interest in natural history and especially in geology steadily increased. He moved to Londonin 1809, where he studied medicine and chemistry. In 1811 he presented to the Geological Society of Londona description of the geological structure of the vicinity of Dublin, with an account of some rare minerals found in Ireland. He took a medical practice at Northamptonin 1812, and for some years the duties of his profession engrossed his time. He was admitted M.D. at Cambridgein 1816.
In 1820, having married a lady of means, Fitton settled in London, and devoted himself to geology. His "Observations on some of the Strata between the Chalk and the Oxford Oolite, in the South-east of England" (Trans. Geol. Soc. ser. 2, vol. iv.) embodied a series of researches extending from 1824 to 1836, and form the memoir known as "Fitton's Strata below the Chalk". In this work he established the true succession and relations of the Upper and Lower Greensand, and of the Wealden and Purbeck formations, and elaborated their detailed structure. He had been elected fellow of the
Royal Societyin 1815, and he was president of the Geological Society of Londonin 1827-1829. His house then became a meeting place for scientific workers, and during his presidency he held a conversazione open on Sunday evenings to all fellows of the Geological Society. From 1817 to 1841 he contributed to the Edinburgh Review many essays on the progress of geological science, and reviews of the groundbreaking books of William Smith (geologist), Charles Lyell, and Roderick Murchison; he also wrote "Notes on the Progress of Geology in England" for the Philosophical Magazine (1832-1833). His only independent publication was "A Geological Sketch of the Vicinity of Hastings" (1833). He was awarded the Wollaston Medalby the Geological Society in 1852. Around 1825, according to Charles Babbage's autobiography, he invented the thaumatrope, which was later commercially publicised by Dr. John Ayrton Paris(to whom the invention is more usually attributed). He died in London.
*1911|article=William Henry Fitton|url=http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/William_Henry_Fitton
*Gass, KC. 2000. Fragments of History. Specialized Quality Publications, Wisconsin Rapids, 41p.
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