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Sir Andrew Crombie Ramsay


1814 - 1891

Geologist. Born in Glasgow, Ramsay was the son of a dye manufacturer. Having worked in business for some years, he produced a geological model of Arran, an area he knew well from holidays spent there and exhibited this at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Glasgow (1840). As a result of this, Ramsay came to the attention of Roderick Impey Murchison (1792 - 1871) who obtained a position in the Geological Survey for him. Ramsay was interested in geomorphology and how geographical features formed. He became a leading proponent of the school of thought pioneered by Louis Agassiz (1807-73), which maintained that much of the landscape of NW Europe was fashioned by glaciers during an Ice Age. He also studied how landscapes were formed by rivers. In 1847, he was appointed to the Chair of Geology at University College, London, and lectured at the Royal School of Mines from 1851.

He was elected President of the Geological Society (of London) in 1862 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in the same year. He succeeded Murchison as Director-General of the Geological Survey in 1871, serving until his retirement in 1881, at which point he was knighted. During his career he amassed a number of prizes and honours, including an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh (1866). He was elected President of the British Association in 1880.

His works include more than forty scientific papers, together with his Geology of the Island of Arran (1841), a Physical Geology and Geography of Great Britain (1863) and a Geology of North Wales (1866).


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