- William Boyd Dawkins
Professor Sir William Boyd Dawkins (1837 – 1929) was an English
geologistand archaeologist. He was a member of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, Curator of the Manchester Museumand Professor of Geology at Owens College, Manchester. He is noted for his research on fossilsand the antiquity of man. He was involved in many projects including a tunnel under the Humber, a Channel Tunnelattempt and the proving of coal under Kent.
Dawkins was born at
ButtingtonVicarage near Welshport, in the then Montgomeryshire, Wales, on 26 December, 1837. He attracted attention at age five by collecting fossils from the local colliery spoil heaps. Soon after, his family moved to Fleetwoodin Lancashire, where he attended the Rossall School. He again attracted attention by adding fossils from the local boulder clayto his earlier collection. After leaving school, he attended Jesus College, Oxfordgraduating with a second in Classics and a first in Natural Sciences.
On leaving university in 1862, he joined the Geological Survey of Great Britain where he spent the next 7 years working on the areas of Kent and the
ThamesValley. In 1869, he was elected a member of the Geological Societyand appointed Curator of the Manchester Museum, a position he held until 1890. In 1870, he took a further appointment as a lecturer at Owens College, (later to become Manchester University) eventually becoming the first Professor of Geology in 1874.
Dawkins became involved with the
Manchester Geological and Mining Societybecoming President on three occasions: 1874 –75, 1876 – 77 and 1886 – 87. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Societyin 1867 and acted as President of the Anthropological Section of the British Associationin 1882 and the Geological Section in 1888.
knightedfor services to geology in 1919 and died on January 15th 1929.
In 1882, following from his work with the Geological Survey, Dawkins was appointed as the official surveyor by the Channel Tunnel Committee. He made a geological survey of the English and French coasts along the
Doverand Calaisareas, however the project was abandoned due to lack of money.
In 1886, the South Eastern Railway Company approached Dawkins asking him if his Channel Tunnel work has shown any coal under Kent. The finding of coal under Kent would have given the company great financial benefits. Together with Henry Willett and the French geologist Pigou, Dawkins presented a paper in 1887 proving the existence of coal under the
Cretaceousdeposits of Kent.
Dawkins achieved many distinctions in the field of
archaeology. In 1859 he moved to Somersetto study classics with the vicar of Wookey. On hearing of the discovery of bones bu local workmen he led excavations in the area of the hyena den at Wookey Hole Caves. His work led to the discovery of the first evidence for the use by Paleolithic man in the Caves of the Mendip Hills.
He spent a great deal of time researching in
Derbyshire, especially the Cresswell Cragsand Windy Knollnear Castleton. At Windy Knoll (NGR SK126830), he proved the existence of exotic animals that lived in England prior to the ice ages. With Rooke Pennington and J Tym, he discovered bones from bison, hyena, bearand a large cat, possibly a relative of the Sabre Tooth Tiger. The Bison bones were more recently dated at 37 300bp (OxA – 4579). Many of the finds are located in the museums of Buxton, Derbyshire and Manchester.
Dawkins was a fighter for workers rights especially the
coal miningindustry. He lobbied hard to get a better education system for miners similar to the ones established in Germany. He donated undisclosed amounts of money to this cause.
Amongst his other donations was one to the
Manchester Museum. The museum wanted to built an extension and started an appeal. The appeal raised £1015 2s 9d, of which Dawkins donated £500.
Later in life he fought for compensation for people whose homes had been affected by subsidence from the salt mines and workings near
Dawkins published many books and papers. But his most famous were:
*Dawkins W.B, (1875), The mammalia found at Windy Knoll. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 31, pp246 – 255
*Dawkins W.B and Pennington R, (1877), The exploration of the ossiferous deposits at Windy Knoll, Castleton, Derbyshire. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Society of London, 33, pp724 – 729
*Dawkins W.B, (1874), Cave Hunting, Macmillan, London
*Dawkins W.B, (1877) On mammal fauna of the caves of Cresswell Crags. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 33, pp589 – 612
*Dawkins W.B and Mello J.M., (1879), Further discoveries in the Cresswell Crags. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 35, pp724 – 735
*Dawkins W.B (a co-author), (1912), British Pleistocene Mammalia (6 volumes)
*Dawkins W.B (1880) Early Man in Britain and His Place in the Tertiary Period, Macmillan, London
*Tweedale G & Proctor T, New Documentary Evidence on the Career of Sir William Boyd Dawkins FRS (1837 – 1929)
*Tweedale G & Procter T, Catalogue of the Papers of Professor Sir William Boyd Dawkins in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester', Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, vol. 74, no. 2 (1992), pp. 3-36.
*Wood Kenneth, (1987) Rich Seams – the history of the Manchester Geological and Mining Society. MGMS, Bolton ISBN 0 904905 13 6
*Various Papers, University of Manchester, Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester
*Various Archive papers of the Manchester Geological and Mining Society
* [http://capra.group.shef.ac.uk/1/nmid.html Sheffield University - Windy Knoll Data]
* [http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/people/antiqarn/bdawkins.htm William Boyd Dawkins]
* [http://rylibweb.man.ac.uk/data2/spcoll/dawk/ The papers of William Boyd Dawkins, Rylands Library]
* [http://capra.group.shef.ac.uk/1/bibnmid.html Bibliography of caves, fissure and rock fissure and rock shelters in the North Midlands.]
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