Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 149,675 pages of information and 235,472 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Joseph Prestwich

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Joseph Prestwich FRS, (12 March 1812–June 23, 1896) was a British geologist and businessman, known as an expert on the Tertiary Period and for having confirmed the findings of Boucher de Perthes.

Born at Pensbury, Clapham, Prestwich was educated in Paris and Reading before entering University College, London where he studied chemistry and natural philosophy. Whilst a student he founded the short-lived Zetetical Society. In 1830 he began working for the family wine business. This job required him to travel throughout the United Kingdom and also abroad to France and Belgium and during the course of these travels he made many geological observations. He became a Fellow of Geological Society in 1833. His 1836 memoir on the Geology of Coalbrookdale, based upon observations made during 1831 and 1832 established his reputation as a geologist.

From 1846 his attention focussed upon the Tertiary deposits of the London Basin, which he subsequently classified and then correlated with Tertiary deposits throughout England, France and Belgium. In 1858 Prestwich was persuaded by Hugh Falconer to visit Abbeville, where Boucher de Perthes had claimed to have found flint tools in the gravel deposits of the valley of the Somme, thus establishing the antiquity of man. In company with John Evans, Prestwich visited the gravel beds of St Acheul and confirmed the observations of Boucher de Perthes. Prestwich's report on the matter was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society for 1859-1860: It is claimed by some authorities that this publication marks the birth of modern scientific archaeology.

During the late 1860s Prestwich served on the Royal Coal Commission and the Royal Commission on the Metropolitan Water Supply. In 1874 he was appointed to the chair of geology at the University of Oxford. Here he produced in two volumes Geology, Chemical and Physical, Stratigraphical and Palaeontological. In 1888 he retired from Oxford to Shoreham in Kent where he continued to work until his death in 1896. Prestwich was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1853, awarded its Royal Medal in 1865, and knighted in 1896: He married Grace Anne McCall in 1870.


1896 Obituary [1]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Institution of Civil Engineers Minutes of the Proceedings