John Phillips (geologist)
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John Phillips
FRS FRS may also refer to: Government and politics * Facility Registry System, a centrally managed Environmental Protection Agency database that identifies places of environmental interest in the United States * Family Resources Survey, a survey to c ...
(25 December 1800 – 24 April 1874) was an English
geologist A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitutes the Earth and other terrestrial planets, as well as the processes that shape them. Geologists usually study geology, although backgrounds in physics, ...

geologist
. In 1841 he published the first global
geologic time scale The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological datingChronological dating, or simply dating, is the process of attributing to an object or event a date in the past, allowing such object or event to be located in a previously establish ...

geologic time scale
based on the correlation of fossils in rock strata, thereby helping to standardize terminology including the term
Mesozoic The Mesozoic Era ( ), also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers, is the second-to-last era of Earth's geological history, lasting from about and comprising the Triassic The Triassic ( ) is a geologic period and system A system ...
, which he invented.


Life and work

Phillips was born at Marden in
Wiltshire Wiltshire (; abbreviated Wilts) is a Ceremonial counties of England, county in South West England with an area of . It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. The county ...
. His father belonged to an old
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...

Welsh
family, but settled in England as an officer of excise and married the sister of
William Smith
William Smith
, a renowned English geologist. When both parents died when he was a child, Phillips's custody was assumed by Smith and Phillips was brought into Smith's London home during early 1815. During the next few years he attended various schools and helped his uncle with his geological research and writing; he also developed an interest in lithography (printing from prepared slabs of stone), and was among the earliest English practitioners of the process, experimenting with it between about 1816 and 1819. After ending school, Phillips accompanied Smith on his wanderings in connection with his preparation of geological maps. During the spring of 1824 Smith went to
York York is a cathedral city with Roman origins at the confluence of the rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Foss, Foss in North Yorkshire, England. It is the historic county town of Yorkshire. The city has long-standing buildings and stru ...

York
to deliver a course of lectures on geology, and his nephew Phillips accompanied him. Phillips accepted engagements in the principal
Yorkshire Yorkshire (; abbreviated Yorks), formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the most northern area of England. There are three ...

Yorkshire
towns to arrange their museums and give courses of lectures on the collections contained therein. York became his residence, and he obtained during 1826 the situation of keeper of the
Yorkshire Museum The Yorkshire Museum is a museum in York York is a cathedral city and unitary authority, unitary authority area, at the confluence of the rivers River Ouse, Yorkshire, Ouse and River Foss, Foss, in England. At the 2011 census, the borough pop ...

Yorkshire Museum
and secretary of the
Yorkshire Philosophical Society The Yorkshire Philosophical Society (YPS) is a charitable learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an discipline (academia), a ...
at the same time as Henry Robinson was Librarian of the YPS. From that centre Phillips extended his operations to towns beyond the county, and by 1831 he included
University College London , mottoeng = Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward , established = , type = Public university , public research university , endowment = £143 million (2020) , budget = £1.544 billion (2019/20) , chancellor = HRH Anne, Princes ...
within the sphere of his activity. During that year the
British Association for the Advancement of Science The British Science Association (BSA) is a charity and learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an discipline (academia), ac ...
was initiated at York, and Phillips was one of the people who organized it. He became the first assistant secretary in 1832, a job which he had until 1859. In 1834 he accepted the professorship of geology at
King's College London King's College London (informally King's or KCL) is a public university, public research university located in London, United Kingdom, and a founding college and Member institutions of the University of London, member institution of the fe ...
, but retained his job at York. In 1834 Phillips was elected a fellow of the
Royal Society The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by Charles II of ...
. During later years he received honorary degrees of LL.D. from
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Republic of Ireland, Ireland. Situated on a bay on the east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey, it lies within the Provinces of Ireland, province of Leinster. It is bordered on the sou ...

Dublin
and
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, England, on the River Cam approximately north of London. At the United Kingdom Census 2011, the population of the Cambridge built-up area (which is larger t ...

Cambridge
, and D.C.L. from
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Ki ...

Oxford
; while in 1845 he was awarded the
Wollaston Medal The Wollaston Medal is a scientific award for geology, the highest award granted by the Geological Society of London. The medal is named after William Hyde Wollaston William Hyde Wollaston (; 6 August 1766 – 22 December 1828) was an Engli ...
by the
Geological Society of London The Geological Society of London, known commonly as the Geological Society, is a learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an d ...

Geological Society of London
. In 1840 he resigned his charge of the York museum and was appointed to the staff of the geological survey of Great Britain managed by
Henry De la Beche Sir Henry Thomas De la Beche KCB, FRS (10 February 179613 April 1855) was an English geologist and palaeontologist Paleontology, also spelled palaeontology or palæontology (), is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and som ...
. Phillips spent some time studying the
Palaeozoic The Paleozoic (or Palaeozoic) Era ( ; from the Greek ''palaiós'' (), "old" and ''zōḗ'' (), "life", meaning "ancient life") is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting fr ...
fossil A fossil (from Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the a ...

fossil
s of
Devon Devon (, archaically known as Devonshire) is a Counties of England, county in South West England, reaching from the Bristol Channel in the north to the English Channel in the south. It is bounded by Cornwall to the west, Somerset to the north- ...

Devon
, Cornwall and West
Somerset ( en, All The People of Somerset) , locator_map = , coordinates = , region = South West England South West England is one of nine official regions of England. It consists of the counties of Bristol Bristol () is a City status ...

Somerset
, of which he published a descriptive memoir
in 1841
. During that same year, he published the first global
geologic time scale The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological datingChronological dating, or simply dating, is the process of attributing to an object or event a date in the past, allowing such object or event to be located in a previously establish ...

geologic time scale
, which ordered rock strata according to the types of fossils found within. This helped standardize the usage of the terms
Paleozoic The Paleozoic (or Palaeozoic) Era ( ; from the Greek ''palaiós'' (), "old" and ''zōḗ'' (), "life", meaning "ancient life") is the earliest of three geologic eras of the Phanerozoic Eon. It is the longest of the Phanerozoic eras, lasting fr ...
period, which he extended to a longer period than it had had by previous usage, and
Mesozoic The Mesozoic Era ( ), also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers, is the second-to-last era of Earth's geological history, lasting from about and comprising the Triassic The Triassic ( ) is a geologic period and system A system ...
period, the latter being his own invention. He also made a detailed survey of the region of the
Malvern Hills The Malvern Hills are a range of hills in the English counties of Worcestershire Worcestershire ( , ; written abbreviation: Worcs) is a non-metropolitan administrative, ceremonial and historic county A county is a geographical ...

Malvern Hills
, of which he prepared the elaborate account that appears in vol. ii. of the Memoirs of the Survey (1848). In 1844 he became professor of geology for the
University of Dublin The University of Dublin ( ga, Ollscoil Átha Cliath), corporately designated the Chancellor, Doctors and Masters of the University of Dublin, is a university located in Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Republ ...
. Nine years later, on the death of
Hugh Edwin Strickland Hugh Edwin Strickland (2 March 1811 – 14 September 1853) was an English geologist A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid, liquid, and gaseous matter that constitutes the Earth and other terrestrial planets, as well as the processe ...
, who had acted as substitute for
Dean Buckland
Dean Buckland
in the readership of geology in the University of Oxford, Phillips succeeded to the post of deputy. At the dean's death in 1856, Phillips became himself reader, a post which he had to the time of his death. During his residence in
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2017, its population was estimated at 152,450. It is northwest of London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Ki ...

Oxford
he had a major part in the foundation and arrangement of the
University Museum:''For museums named "university museum" see, University Museum (disambiguation)'' A university museum is a repository of collection Collection or Collections may refer to: * Cash collection, the function of an accounts receivable department * C ...

University Museum
established in 1859 (see his ''Notices of Rocks and Fossils in the University Museum'', 1863; and ''The Oxford Museum'', by H. W. Acland and
J. Ruskin
J. Ruskin
, 1859; reprinted with additions 1893). Phillips was also keeper of the
Ashmolean Museum The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology () on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world's second university museum (after the establishment of the Kunstmuseum Basel in 1661 by the University of Basel in Switzerland) and Britain's first pu ...
from 1854 until 1870. During 1859–1860 he was president of the Geological Society of London, and during 1865 president of the British Association. Phillips also made astronomical observations of the
planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to cause thermonuclear fusion, and ...

planet
Mars Mars is the fourth planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to ...

Mars
during its 1862
opposition Opposition may refer to: Arts and media * Opposition (Altars EP), ''Opposition'' (Altars EP), 2011 EP by Christian metalcore band Altars * The Opposition (band), a London post-punk band * ''The Opposition with Jordan Klepper'', a late-night tele ...
. On 23 April 1874, he dined at All Souls College, but on leaving he slipped and fell down a flight of stone stairs. He died the next day, and was buried in York Cemetery, York, York Cemetery, beside his sister Anne Phillips (geologist), Anne and his benefactor Thomas Gray. His coffin was accompanied to Oxford's railway station by 200 university academics. Impact crater, Craters on Mars and the Moon are named after him.


Selected writings

The first paper Phillips published was ''On the Direction of the Diluvial Currents in Yorkshire'' (1827). He contributed to the ''Philosophical Magazine'', the ''Journal of the Geological Society'', and the ''Geological Magazine''. He was also the author of separate works, including: *''Illustrations of the Geology of Yorkshire'' (in two parts, 1829 and 1836; 2nd ed. of pt. 1 in 1835; 3rd ed., edited by R. Etheridge, in 1875
Part 1

Part 2Full text of the 1829 edition at Archive.org
*''A Treatise on Geology'' (1837–1839)
Vol IVol II
*
Memoirs of William Smith
' (1844);
''The Rivers, Mountains and Sea-Coast of Yorkshire''
(1853); *''Manual of Geology, Practical and Theoretical'
Part IPart II
1855);
''Life on the Earth: its Origin and Succession''
(1860); *''Mount Vesuvius, Vesuvius'' (1869); *
Geology of Oxford and the Valley of the Thames
' (1871). To these should be added his ''Monograph of British Belemnitidae'' (1865), for the Palaeontographical Society, and his geological map of the British Isles (1847). His manuscript notebook describing his early experiments with lithography was published by the Printing Historical Society in 2016.


Blue plaque

In February 2016 a blue plaque commemorating John Phillips was erected on the side of St. Mary's Lodge (in York Museum Gardens), where Phillips lived in the mid-19th Century. The plaque, dedicated by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, York Civic Trust and York Museums Trust reads: "John Phillips FRS, 1800-1874, Geologist. Yorkshire Philosophical Society Officer and first Keeper of the Yorkshire Museum lived here between 1839 and 1853."


References

*
pdf
;Attribution *


External links

*
''Map of the principal features of the geology of Yorkshire''
(1853) - full digital facsimile at Linda Hall Library
''Geology of Oxford and the valley of the Thames, by John Phillips''
(1871) - full digital facsimile at Linda Hall Library
''John Phillips's lithographic notebook: reproduced in facsimile from the original at Oxford University Museum of Natural History''
edited by Michael Twyman. Printing Historical Society, 2016. {{DEFAULTSORT:Phillips, John 1800 births 1874 deaths People from Wiltshire 19th-century British astronomers English geologists Fellows of the Royal Society Academics of King's College London Accidental deaths from falls Accidental deaths in England Fellows of the Geological Society of London Wollaston Medal winners English people of Welsh descent People associated with the Ashmolean Museum Members of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society Burials at York Cemetery, York Writers about Yorkshire