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Abstract

Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873, APS 1860), geologist, was an important figure in the development of the modern discipline of geology. He was educated at Cambridge, being ordained in 1817. An excellent field geologist, he did significant work interpreting complex old rock in such places as Devonshire (naming the Devonian Period after that location), Cornwall, and the Lake District, correlating his findings with strata in places such as Germany. Sedgwick first interpreted strata from the period he named Cambrian. He served in many professional organizations and was honored for his work with the Wollaston and Copley medals. Sedgwick, a Liberal in politics, served on committees that reformed the administration of university education. Despite being a friend of Charles Darwin's, Sedgwick was critical of the materialist bent of Darwinian thought.

The 37 letters in the collection were acquired at various times, mainly through purchase, and assembled for the collection. The letters span the dates 1825-1870. Individually most letters are not especially significant, but collectively they touch on most aspects of Sedgwick's life and career. There are letters about Sedgwick's work on university reform, the Geological Museum at Cambridge, lectures, colleagues, travel, health, and family. Only one letter in the collection delves into detail about Sedgwick's geologic work.

Background note

Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873, APS 1860), geologist, was an important figure in the development of the modern discipline of geology. He was educated at Cambridge, being ordained in 1817. An excellent field geologist, he did significant work interpreting complex old rock in such places as Devonshire (naming the Devonian Period after that location), Cornwall, and the Lake District, correlating his findings with strata in other places such as Germany. Sedgwick first interpreted strata from the period he named Cambrian. He served in many professional organizations and was honored for his work with the Wollaston and Copley medals. Sedgwick, a Liberal in politics, served on the committees that reformed the administration of university education. Despite being a friend of Charles Darwin's, Sedgwick was critical of the materialist bent of Darwinian thought.

Sedgwick was born in Dent, Yorkshire, England, on March 22, 1785. He had a stable and happy home life in Dent, where his father was vicar. Dent lies in one of the Yorkshire Dales, famous even today for its picturesqueness. In the late 18th century it was the home to self-sufficient farmers referred to as statesman. While never the rural paradise that Sedgwick and others such as his friend William Wordsworth could imagine it to be, Dentdale was nevertheless a prosperous place, producing cottage knitted goods, Galloway ponies, farm products (especially butter), and cooperage. Sedgwick spent most of his life beyond Dentdale but all his life sustained a relationship with it and its people. For instance, in 1868 he wrote A Memorial by the Trustees of Cowgill Chapel, which is one of the best sources about life in Dentdale. More profoundly, Dentdale formed Sedgwick's character. Colin Speakman writes of him, "[Sedgwick's] forthrightness, his Broad Church radicalism, his sometimes rather simplistic way of distinguishing right from wrong, . . . his generosity, his warmth, his vivid and homely descriptive powers" might have seemed somewhat out-of-place in Cambridge but would have seemed typical in Dentdale. Sedgwick also remained close to his family, especially his sister Isabella and a niece, also named Isabella, who was his companion and nurse in his later years.

Like other 19th century English geologists, Sedgwick spent his youth rambling over the countryside, where he also collected rocks and fossils. Following attendance at the Dent grammar school, he went to the nearby Sedbergh School, boarding at a farm whose owner was a relative of the Fosters of Hebblethwaite Hall, good friends of the Sedgwick family. Among the school's pupils was the mathematician George Peacock (1791-1858), who became a colleague of Sedgwick's at Trinity College.

Sedbergh School was run by the Rev. William Stevens, a competent but stern and apparently troubled man. In Sedbergh, however, resided the surgeon and mathematician John Dawson, a man of remarkable intellectual and moral integrity. Dawson practiced medicine, worked in mathematics, and tutored students drawn to him by his reputation as a mathematician and teacher. (Among his achievements, Dawson had demonstrated that it was possible to determine the distance to the sun by observing the orbit of Venus, a fact confirmed during Cook's voyage to Tahiti in 1768.) Dawson was an inspiration and model for Sedgwick throughout his life.

Despite his modest family means, Sedgwick was able to attend Trinity College, University of Cambridge, as a sizar, a type of scholarship student, chosen from a group of subsizars by examination. A recognizable type as the poor, hardworking, ambitious scholarship student, Sedgwick was graduated with distinction in mathematics in 1808. He did not receive a much-needed Fellowship in 1809, but successfully qualified through examination in 1810. The Fellowship offered a measure of financial security but the relentless intellectual work, decreasing interest in mathematics, increasing loneliness as his friends were graduated, and drudgery of teaching uninterested students wore him down; his health broke following a river trip in 1813. Rest and country living restored his health. However, although amazingly strong and untiring, Sedgwick never completely recovered from his breakdown. Outdoor exercise remained a physical and emotional necessity, but he suffered frequent bouts of ill health and grew increasingly hypochondriacal as he aged.

An amiable, generous, well-liked person who applied himself to university life, Sedgwick became an assistant tutor in 1815. He was ordained in 1817, not because of theological conviction but because of economic necessity: he would have lost his Fellowship if he had not taken orders. It was a rather surprising start for a churchman who became identified with the anti-materialist, god-centered critics of Darwin's evolutionary theories. Sedgwick nevertheless became a conscientious minister and excellent preacher. His chief theological duty was a prebendary at Norwich, which he accepted in 1834.

Sedgwick's great opportunity came when the Woodwardian Professorship of Geology became vacant in 1818. Endowed by John Woodward (1665-1728), the position carried with it relatively light responsibilities (guardianship of the geology collection and the requirement of delivering four lectures a year) but was less remunerative than being an assistant tutor, was not prestigious (as endowed chairs would be later in the 19th century) and required that the professor be unmarried. The intellectual challenge, chance at an outdoor life, and freedom from the drudgery of teaching undergraduates attracted Sedgwick. He was overwhelming elected more for his potential than for his existing expertise. Never having systematically studied geology and never having done field work, Sedgwick legendarily (and probably apocryphally) remarked, "Hitherto I have never turned a stone; henceforth I will leave no stone unturned." He was, however, likely familiar with the geologic issues of the day, having been formally "introduced" to the Geological Society of London in 1816, an unlikely event for a complete tyro. Sedgwick never married and remained at Trinity College the rest of his life.

Sedgwick quickly set about becoming a geologist. He took his first field trip in the summer of 1818. In 1822 he first tackled the famously complex geology of the Lake District, where he met William Wordsworth. Sedgwick's pioneering work on the Cumbrian Mountains was not published until 1835. His time in the District also produced "Three Letters Upon the Geology of the Lake District Addressed to W. Wordsworth, Esq." (1842). The "letters," later increased to five, appeared with Wordsworth's "Guide to the Lakes" in a volume edited by John Hudson.

Sedgwick also immediately became active in professional organizations. He was made a Fellow of the Geological Society of London in 1818 and was an officer and active member for decades, serving as president from 1829 to 1831. Sedgwick played a leading role in founding the Cambridge Philosophical Society, an organization of the same type as the APS, in 1819. Following the pattern begun earlier in his career, Sedgwick helped found the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1831, serving as president in 1833 and as a leading member of its geology section. And Sedgwick's organizing activities were not confined to "professional" organizations ("professional" and "amateur" were not distinct terms in Sedgwick's time, when a figure such as Darwin was a gentleman scientist without academic appointment and with an independent income). Sedgwick even organized a geological society during his residence as prebend at Norwich.

In 1819 Sedgwick began the series of lectures that led to his renown as a forceful, accessible, inspiring teacher with a commanding presence. His language was strong and picturesque. Sedgwick saw lectures as an introduction to details found in textbooks. Rather than burden an audience with minutia, Sedgwick sought to spark the imagination by opening up ways of thinking. In a time when lectures were not required of students and frequently not about what they needed to know for graduation, Sedgwick's drew colleagues and townspeople as well as undergraduates, his lectures becoming a feature of Cambridge life. Sedgwick gave his last lecture in 1870 when he was 85 years old -- his 52nd series.

Care of the geologic collection at Cambridge was another of Sedgwick's duties. The collection grew substantially under Sedgwick's care, becoming one of the best in the world. Sedgwick added specimens he gathered from the field and purchased collections with university and his own money as well as funds solicited for the purpose. Catalogs of the collection were published, such as a systematic description of the Paleozoic fossils in 1855. Through Sedgwick's constant effort a new building was erected for the collection in 1840. This building was already inadequate by the time of Sedgwick's death; a new one was erected in 1904, and the museum was named in Sedgwick's honor. Today it is called The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences.

One of Sedgwick's most lasting contributions to higher education was his work in university reform. A Liberal in politics and a firm believer in the value of a balanced curriculum, Sedgwick was a forceful proponent of political reform in England and educational reform at Cambridge. For example, he supported the Reform Bill, not a popular stance in the Cambridge community, that was passed in 1832. Also, in 1834 Sedgwick led a then-unsuccessful campaign to abolish the religious tests that effectively kept Dissenters and Catholics out of Cambridge. Sedgwick's understanding of and commitment to broad, liberal education was laid out in his 1833 work, A Discourse on the Studies of the University.

Real reform at Cambridge began in 1847 with the election of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's Consort, to the office of Chancellor. The Prince asked Sedgwick to be his Secretary. Sedgwick's position was difficult. Although a member of the Cambridge Establishment, having been made Vice-Master of Trinity in 1845, he was also a reformist, as was the Prince, for whom Sedgwick would work. Some reform came in 1848, when two new tripos (undergraduate examinations) were established, one in the natural sciences, which Sedgwick wrote from 1851 to 1860, and a system was established to ensure that undergraduates attended at least one professional lecture before graduating.

A Royal Commission was set up in 1850, with Sedgwick as a Commissioner. The Commission's report, largely written by Sedgwick, recommended many reforms: democratizing the University Senate, abolishing archaic privileges, reforming examinations, awarding scholarships and fellowships by merit only, having colleges contribute to the salaries of lecturers and professors (who were dependent upon student lecture fees). The University did not act on the recommendations, however, so a parliamentary commission, on which Sedgwick also served, had to be established, which drew up a bill to enact into law many of the reforms.

It was of course as a geologist that Sedgwick made his name. Although Sedgwick disliked writing professional papers and never produced a geological text such as his contemporary Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology, he nevertheless produced some classic short works in a career that spanned the Heroic Age of geology.

Early in his career, Sedgwick followed the ideas of Abraham Gottlieb Werner (1749-1818) who believed rocks were created entirely by the action of primeval seas. His followers were termed Neptunists, and their theories were easily reconciled with Biblical creation. An opposing school was developed by James Hutton (1726-1797), who emphasized the action of volcanic forces and fires over great spans of time. These Plutonists posited a more mechanistic view of geology that seemed a denial of the Old Testament. Lyell was a Plutonist who emphasized the idea that forces that shaped the past are identical to the ones at work now, thus creating the idea of Uniformitariansim, a term coined by William Whewell (1794-1866). Sedgwick, antithetical to the atheistic tendencies of the mechanistic view but believing in the overwhelming evidence of the age of the earth, discarded his early Neptunism and adopted the theories of Georges Cuvier (1769-1856), William Buckland (1784-1856), and Elie de Beaumont (1798-1874) who were Catastrophists, believing in periods of sudden cataclysmic changes, such as those that had perhaps raised the Alps.

Such were the geologic theories at the time Sedgwick was doing his most important field work. In the field, Sedgwick had a flair for grasping the regional significance of local details, developing ideas on stratigraphical continuity that effectively showed links between formations. Among the important field work he did was to explain the nature of the New Red Sandstone (a term no longer used) by using the distinctive Magnesia Limestone of northeastern England and them to correlate the Sandstone with classic successions in Germany. In his "Remarks on the Structure of Large Mineral Masses" (1835) Sedgwick used his mathematical training along with his skill in the field to clearly analyze the effects of diagenesis; in the same paper he provided the crucial technical key to interpreting complex folding by distinctively explaining stratification, jointing, and cleavage. Also, in collaboration with Robert Impey Murchison (1792-1871), Sedgwick discovered that some rocks in Devonshire were lateral equivalents of the well-known Old Red Sandstone and in so doing named a new geologic period: Devonian.

A long and often bitter controversy with Murchison was a significant feature of Sedgwick's career. Both men desired to be the discoverer of the strata where the first fossils were to be found. Sedgwick's Cambrian System, which he was first to define, was very thick, and its upper reaches contained fossils of invertebrate fauna. The fossil record seemed to begin in the Cambrian. Murchison began to assert, however, that the Upper Cambrian was in reality part of "his" Silurian System of younger rock; he eventually added almost all of the fossiliferous Cambrian to the Silurian System. The dispute was aggravated by what Sedgwick viewed as editorial tampering by the Geological Society with one of his papers. In a display of temper (Sedgwick's least attractive characteristic) Sedgwick broke off ties with the Society.

Sedgwick eventually discovered that Murchison had confused strata in two places, which in one instance created a spurious uniformity in Silurian fossils. Murchison, however, would not admit his errors, so the two men remained estranged. Later, other geologists discovered more fossils that were defined as Cambrian and added a geologic age with representative fossils named the Ordovician that comprised Sedgwick's Upper Cambrian and Murchison's Lower Silurian.

Sedgwick's most famous student was Charles Darwin, who accompanied Sedgwick on a trip to Wales. The lessons in practical geology provided great dividends when Darwin put them to work during his Beagle voyage. Sedgwick also furthered Darwin's career by reading some of his work to the Geological Society. However, Sedgwick did not believe in the transmutation of species as laid out in Darwin's Origin of Species.

The root of Sedgwick's opposition was that in removing God from the origin of flora and fauna, and thus removing intelligent design from the natural world, human moral responsibility is undermined. The universe is governed by an active intelligence, present in the design and purpose observable in the natural world of mutual dependence. The world is old, as the geologic evidence shows, but that does not preclude species coming and going over time due to catastrophes originating from the Creator, a force beyond human comprehension. Contemplating nature leads one closer to the mind God. Sedgwick was far from a fundamentalist. He attacked simple Mosaic interpretations of natural history, but he also believed that materialists ignored evidence of design.

Despite all the controversies, and despite being viewed late in his long life as a superannuated figure, Sedgwick was widely admired as a warmhearted and noble person. His contributions to geology were recognized with the award of the Wollaston Medal from the Geological Society in 1833 and the Copley Medal from the Royal Society in 1863. His greatest legacy might be his role in developing university science education. He died in 1873.

Scope and content

The 37 letters in the collection were acquired at various times, mainly through purchase, and assembled for the collection. The letters span the dates 1825-1870. Individually the letters are not especially significant, but collectively they touch on most aspects of Sedgwick's life and career. There are letters about Sedgwick's work on university reform, the Geological Museum at Cambridge, lectures, colleagues, travel, health, and family. Only one letter in the collection delves into any detail about Sedgwick's geologic work.

Several letters contain material about Sedgwick's prominent role in university reform. A letter from 1832 explains the use of the Royal mandamus petition to grant degrees. In a letter to his boyhood friend George Peacock, dating probably from March 1847, Sedgwick notes that he did his "utmost to keep good humour" around him during the recent election of Prince Albert to the Chancellorship of Cambridge. Lord Monteagle has just informed Sedgwick that the Prince has accepted the post.

Another topic of the letters is the Geologic Museum. A letter from 1829 talks about mineral specimens and the fact that "Mr. Tennant succeeded Mawe" in the Strand shop; both Mawe and Tennant were prominent mineralogists and dealers familiar professionally to Sedgwick as colleagues and providers of specimens. One letter from 1842 notes the upcoming inspection and audit of the museum, the first since the move into the new building in 1841. Sopwith ( Thomas Sopwith, a mining engineer also known for his geologic models) is mentioned in the letter, as is one "Sowerby," a member of the distinguished family of naturalists. Another letter, from March 1856, concerns raising funds for the purchase of the paleontology collection of Rev. T. Image, a drive that was eventually successful.

Five letters from 1842-3 discuss the creation of a model for his lectures. The letters could be to Thomas Sopwith, but the correspondent is unidentified. The model is to be similar to the one belonging to Henry Thomas de la Beche of the Forest of Dean. There are specific instructions about making the model with a stout cover so that it can be used as a table during a lecture.

More than a few letters feature colleagues, or life at the university, usually in routine matters such as arranging to meet. One letter (undated, but from 1848) notes that while Henry De La Beche was to be knighted, "I hope now that he mounts his spurs he will not drop his hammer." Another (June 19, 1854) notes that Sedgwick wants to return to Cambridge to "attend Hall," that is, to dine at Trinity College, where he is "Master & Lord of the Spit" and where he is needed because his antiquarian friends tend to forget to eat.

Sedgwick did not travel out of Britain very often, though he did travel frequently about the country, visiting relatives, friends, and of course on trips to the field. A letter (January 30, 1830) notes that he saw a blast that brought down some chalk cliffs at Dover. In a charming letter (undated, but from August 14, 1850) to an unidentified correspondent about a visit to the Duchess of Argyll, Sedgwick playfully notes his inability to be at Cambridge now because since the Duchess has invited him to stay, it is his policy that whenever "duty & inclination have a fight, [Sedgwick] thinks it best & most manly that inclination should win"; it is "a severe code of morals for a poor old Monk" but he will ask for the Duchess' "grace and absolution" tomorrow. Two letters discuss trips taken to spas for Sedgwick's health, one referring to his extended stay in Wiesbaden (undated, but from 1844), another about a brief stop in Bath (April 11, 1870).

The spa letters are part of the half of the collection that has some mention of Sedgwick's health. Bronchitis, colds, "influenza," gout, and "sluggish liver" are some of the conditions mentioned. A letter from April 26, 1842, says that Sedgwick is suffering from "suppressed gout," and he wishes that it would "show its face at the surface instead of lurking among my vitals, & poisoning the fresh air of life."

Several letters discuss aspects of Sedgwick's family life. In two Sedgwick writes to relatives of people he had known in earlier life. One (1864) reminisces about the correspondent's father, who was ordained with Sedgwick. The other (1847) reminisces about the correspondent's father, "Mr. Foster of Hebblethwaite Hall" in Sedbergh, a friend of the Sedgwick family from his youth. Mr. Foster was a man of "uncommon stamp." But the last time Sedgwick visited Sedbergh, it seemed that all the people he knew were gone.

Finally, one letter in the collection discusses in some detail Sedgwick's geology. It was written in (probably January) 1842 to an unidentified correspondent. Sedgwick writes that he is sending the correspondent a box of "Bala fossils" (there are today a town, a limestone formation, and a geologic sub-period of that name) collected by the late "Mr. Bowman" (probably John Eddoes Bowman, 1785-1841). The correspondent saw the Bala fossils Robert Murchison and Sedgwick collected in 1834. The Bala fossils "may contain some new species." The new fossils "should be brought into some comparison with those of Coniston water Head," that is, fossils found at the head of Coniston Water, the third largest lake in the English Lake District. Sedgwick now thinks that the Bala fossils "are on a lower parallel than that of Coniston" though many of the species are certainly the same. Sedgwick adds that the Snowdons "lie many thousand feet lower still, but the old species still show their faces."

Collection information

Provenance

Assembled from the following manuscript purchases, listed by accession date and number: 1955 1030ms; 1955 1031ms; 1967 2641ms; 1971 1189ms; 1971 1667ms; 1971 1819ms; 1972 434ms; 1972 476ms; 1974 1450ms; 1975 92ms; 1976 1490.fms; 1979 1519ms; 1979 1661ms; 1980 1301ms; 1981 1963ms; 1983 780ms; 1984 196ms; and from the following manuscript collections: AL1.2; B: AL1.3; B Se25L. Accession and call numbers are found at the end of the description of each letter.

Preferred citation

Cite as: Adam Sedgwick Collection, American Philosophical Society

Processing information

Recatalogued by Charles Greifenstein, 2004

Related material

As was typical of his milieu, Sedgwick was a voluminous letter writer. The largest collections of Sedgwick material are found at Cambridge University. The University Library holds most of his correspondence as well as material gathered for the biography by Clark and Hughes (at least 20 linear feet total). Trinity College Library also has Sedgwick correspondence. The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences has Sedgwick's field notebooks, specimens, personal artifacts, and material related to the production of Museum catalogs.

A large group of almost 300 letters is found at the Geological Society of London in the Robert I. Murchison Papers. There is a collection of over 100 letters to John Phillips at the Museum of Natural History at Oxford University. In addition, there are smaller holdings in collections throughout Great Britain and elsewhere.

Sedgwick letters are found in the following APS collections:

  1. Charles Darwin Papers (B D25L), letters from Sedgwick to Charles Lyell
  2. William Hutton Papers (B H978)
  3. J. P. Lesley Papers (B L56)
  4. Letters of Scientists (509 L59)
  5. Sir Charles Lyell Papers (B L981)
  6. Samuel Pickworth Woodward Collection (B W854)
  7. APS Archives (506.73 Am4Le, vols. I and III), letters on nomination for membership and acknowledging election

Bibliography

Barrett, Paul H. "The Sedgwick-Darwin Geologic Tour of North Wales." Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. Vol. 118, no. 2, pp. 146-164. Call no. B 506.73 Am4p

Clark, John Willis and Thomas McKenny Hughes. The Life and Letters of the Reverend Adam Sedgwick. Cambridge: University Press, 1890. Call no. BIO Se25c

Hudson, John, Ed. A Complete Guide to the Lakes, Comprising Minute Directions for the Tourist; with Mr. Wordsworth's Description of the Scenery of the Country, etc.; and Five Letters on the Geology of the Lake District, by the Rev. Professor Sedgwick. Edited by the publisher. Kendal: John Hudson; London: Longman and Co., and Whittaker and Co., 1853. Call no. 554.2 C73h

Sedgwick, Adam. A Discourse on the Studies of the University. Fourth edition. Cambridge: John Smith, for J. & J.J. Deighton, and John W. Parker, 1835. Call no. 370.4 Se3d.4

Sedgwick, Adam. Adam Sedgwick's Dent: A Facsimile Reprint in One Volume of Two Classics of Dales History: A Memorial by the Trustees of Cowgill Chapel (1868) and Supplement to the Memorial (1870). With a new Introduction and notes by David Boulton. Sedburgh [Cumbria]: R.F.G. Hollett and Son; Dent [Cumbria]: D. Boulton [c1984]. Call. no. 942.783 Se3d

The APS also has several journals in which much of Sedgwick's work appears: Transactions of the Philosophical Society of Cambridge; Annals of Philosophy; Proceedings of the Geological Society of London; Transactions of the Geological Society of London; Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London

Early American History Note

The Adam Sedgwick Collection consists primarily of correspondence among English scientists in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Indexing Terms

Corporate Name(s)

  • Geological Society of London
  • Sedgwick Museum
  • University of Cambridge.

Genre(s)

  • Scientific Correspondence

Geographic Name(s)

  • Sedbergh (England)

Personal Name(s)

  • Airy, George Biddell, Sir, 1801-1892
  • Clift, William, 1775-1849
  • De La Beche, Henry T., (Henry Thomas), 1796-1855
  • James, John. K., Sir, bart., 1815-1893
  • Lloyd, Humphrey, 1800-1881
  • Lonsdale, W. (William), 1794-1871
  • Palmerston, Henry John Temple, Viscount, 1784-1865
  • Peacock, George, 1791-1858
  • Procter, Joseph, b. 1829
  • Sedgwick, Adam, 1785-1873
  • Sopwith, Thomas, 1803-1879

Subject(s)

  • Beyond Early America
  • Geology--Great Britain
  • Geology--Study and teaching (Higher)
  • Religion


Detailed Inventory
Correspondence
1825-1870 0.25 lin. feet Box 1
Request Series
ALS to Joseph Procter
[1825] Dec. 29 1p. Request Item

Looking forward to seeing him especially if he brings a "plumper for Palmerston" [for election as burgess of Cambridge University]. Remembers [Thomas] Musgrave to Procter. Written from "Lord Palmerston's Committee Room."

Provenance: 1981 1963ms

ALS to W. Clift
1827 May 22 1p. Request Item

Asking Clift to help Rev. Charles Joseph in seeing the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons. Notes bought the elk horns of "Sowerby"

Provenance: removed from B: AL1.3

ALS to My dear Sir
[1829] Nov. 13 4p. Request Item

Encloses a note [missing] for Mr. Woodward who would give the correspondent "the information you want"; mentions Sowerby and Museum cabinets; Mr. Latter is coming to Cambridge this week; asks about mineral specimens; "Mr. Tennant succeeded Mawe" in the Strand mineral shop; correspondent has a son who would be a sizar; AS gives information on becoming a sizar and scholar

Provenance: 1983 780ms

ALS to My dear Sir
1831 July 7 2p. Request Item

Asks correspondent to notify Mr. Airy that a friend of AS's named West(?) is coming north to assist Airy on his walk in the Highlands and Cape Wrath

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to Dear Sir
[After 1831] 2p. Request Item

Asks that 3 copies of his anniversary addresses to the Geological Society in 1830 and 1831 be bound with other addresses

Provenance: 1979 1661ms

ALS to H. Lloyd
[1832] February 25 4p. Request Item

Lloyd sent parcel with copies of "Dublin problems" (mathematical questions); Sedgwick has been ill; bulk of letter explains history of the use of the "Royal Privilege" by the Crown in using the mandamus petition to grant divinity degrees; mentions that [Samuel?] Lee might have gotten one to qualify for the "Arabic" professorship; advice on Irish Geological Museum

Provenance: 1971 1189ms

ALS to My dear Sir
1840 July 2 3p. Request Item

Taking waters, "driving off rheumatic gout and stimulating a sluggish liver"; Going to Norwich to his Residence (prebendary); will miss meeting in Glasgow; mentions Geological Museum, then being built

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to My dear Sir
[1842] Jan. 13 1p. Request Item

Son of the late Mr. Bowman has sent a box of Bala fossils to correspondent, who has seen the ones AS and Murchison collected in 1834; might contain new species Mr Bowman collected; AS wants to compare with Coniston Water Head; AS now believes Bala on lower parallel than Coniston; Snowdons lie "many thousand feet lower still, but the old species" still show; earlier sent correspondent box of upper greywacke fossils

Provenance: 1967 2641ms

ALS to My dear Lonsdale
[1842] Apr. 12 2p. Request Item

Asks [William] Lonsdale to forward the note to Mr. [Thomas] Sopwith who is likely in Newcastle [Thomas' hometown] asking Sopwith to come to Cambridge this week and then they can go to meeting of Geological Society together; AS has audit and then inspection of his new museum which moved into new quarters last year; he intends to ask [James de Carle?] Sowerby to help with exhibit

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS My dear Sir
1842 Apr. 26 3p. Request Item

Museum advancing; suffering from "suppressed gout" that AS wishes would "show its face at the surface instead of lurking among my vitals, & poisoning the fresh air of life"; wants correspondent to make a "model" for his fall lectures, similar to the one of the Forest of Dean he saw at De la Beche's, which AS could cover and use as a table; mentions how the real Forest would "cure" him

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to My dear Sir
1842 May 1 3p. Request Item

Detailed instructions on what is needed to set up a model for his lectures, mounted like the one at the Economical Club, where De la Beche's model is; model is to have a "stout cover capable of being locked down for I should not wish it to be exposed to public view without permission"; is on a "severe diet" to "mitigate my malady"

Provenance: 974 1450ms

ALS to My dear Sir
1842 October 25 2p. Request Item

No hurry on model since will need it only when AS gets back to Cambridge at Christmas; can't give correspondent directions about the "Old Red" [sandstone] which in "that country" (Forest of Dean?) with the middle part containing limestone and the lower part slate; has severe cold, worse since influenza in Jan. 1837

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to My dear Sir
1842 Nov. 3 2p. Request Item

Correspondent sent a parcel to Norwich; OK for correspondent to use the model until AS needs it in Jan.; AS's cold is better but still confined to house; was not at Norwich for the festival

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to My dear Sir
1843 Jan. 30 2p. Request Item

Has arranged credit or 56 pounds for the correspondent with Jonathan(?) Lambert & Co.; AS saw a blast that brought down some chalk cliffs at Dover and saw John Herschel and Professor Airy there; model is on its legs and is all he could wish

Provenance: (1974 1450ms)

ALS to My dear Sir
[1844 (Sept.?)] 3p. Request Item

Thanks correspondent for two pamphlets, one on the mustard tree and one on the history of Scriptures; is feeling gouty; Wiesbaden cure did no good even after two months

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to Miller
1846 Oct. 11 4p. Request Item

Asks [Hugh?} Miller about a book on behalf of "Mrs. Williams" maybe called the Cambrian Lyre that is supposedly translated from the Celtic. Anecdote about going to visit Wales, asking a Welsh lad where "Mr. Williams" is, the lad not understanding until AS said "Dr. Williams." Correspondent friends with the Williamses who apparently live in Llandovery.

Provenance: 1976 1490.fms

ALS to Dear Sir
1847 March 1 4p. Request Item

Explains activities that have prevented him from writing sooner, including a recent election; AS on winning side. Pleased to respond to grandson of Mr. Foster of Hebblethwaite Hall in Sedbergh. Reminesces about Mr. Foster, of "uncommon stamp." Last saw him in Newcastle, visiting a cut glass factory. When last in Sedbergh, all the people AS knew seemed to be gone

Provenance: 1971 1667ms

ALS to My dear Peacock
1847 March 2p. Request Item

Meant to forward "Lord Monteagle's hieroglyphics" to Peacock and would like to go with the letter himself but he has a cold; unity of Trinity College a problem; AS did his "utmost to keep good humour" around him during the recent election of Prince Albert to the Chancellorship of Cambridge; Monteagle in his letter says that the Prince accepts the office; AS had "two or three bleedings" to clear his "stuffed and loaded" head

Provenance: 1975 92ms

ALS to My dear Sir
1848 3p. Request Item

AS made some unspecified "stupid blunder"; requests correspondent to return with AS from London, where he is undertaking a work of "inspection"; AS can give correspondent two or three clear days; AS hadn't heard that Henry Thomas De la Beche was to be knighted, but "I hope now that he mounts his spurs he will not drop his hammer"

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to My Sir
1849 Feb. 2 1p. Request Item

Thanks correspondent [Rev. C. B. Smyth] for sending his book The Sicilian Vespers; will become a subscriber; AS intends to work on book on Christian Metaphysics

Provenance: 1972 434ms

ALS to unidentified
1850 Aug. 14 2p. Request Item

Knows the College spit ceases to turn without Professor Sedgwick, but the Duchess of Argyll has given him an invitation, and it is Sedgwick's policy that whenever "duty & inclination have a fight, he thinks it best & most manly that inclination should win"; it is a "severe code of morals for a poor old Monk" but he will ask for the Duchess' "grace and absolution" tomorrow

Provenance: B Se25L

ALS to My dear Sir
1850 Dec. 5 2p. Request Item

Ill, but wants to attend audit of Norwich Chapter and go to Trinity College for its audit. Is worried about it. Is delivering lecture to the Geological Society. Wishes correspondent luck with his Literary Gazette [likely correspondent is William Jerdan, editor of the Literary Gazette]

Provenance: 1955 1030ms

ALS to My dear Sir
1854 June 19 3p. Request Item

Apologizes for not writing sooner, lost the letter on his desk, will be back in Cambridge in July; wants to see antiquarian friends to "attend Hall" with them where Sedgwick is "Master & Lord of the Spit"; jokes that antiquarian friends forget to eat; admires archaeologist [Albert] Way; good news about the "Norwich window"

Provenance: 1971 1189ms

ALS to Sir James [Sir John Kingston James]
1855 Dec. 18 3p. Request Item

Declines invitation to a Bachelor Ball due to age and ill health. Wishes he "could take the load of the last 40 years off my sholders." Can't join the "sect of jumpers"; we all must join in the "dance of Death."

Provenance: 1979 1519ms

ALS to Fox Taylor or Richard Gerrain(?)
1856 March 22 2p. Request Item

Letter written on a printed circular with four letters by Sedgwick from Cambridge Papers Feb. 23, 1856, concerning the purchase of a paleontology collection of Rev. T. Image for 250 pounds plus 100 pounds for exhibiting it. "Gout drives me out of bed & almost to mania"; Circular intended for MA's; is seeking more subscriptions; has fallen short; correspondent is "brother geologist"; the Residents at Cambridge have been generous

Provenance: 1984 196ms

ALS to My dear Lady Affleck
[1858-1865] June 19 1p. Request Item

Accepts an invitation to dinner [Lady Affleck (d. 1865) was wife of William Whewell, who married her in 1858]

Provenance: 1980 1301ms

ALS to C. B. [Charles Bagot] Caley
[1860] Feb. 27 1p. Request Item

While normally doesn't do so, agrees in this case to subscribe to Cayley's work "Metrical Version of the Psalms"; [came out as The Psalms in Metre, London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860]

Provenance: 1971 1667ms

ALS to Mr. Atkinson
[1862?] Dec. 24 4p. Request Item

Son and wife and grandson Adam arrived unexpectedly by train after a "wild, cold, uncertain drive" to Langcliff; asks if he could visit Mr. Atkinson; will be there for "xtmas"; other personal circumstances noted

Provenance: 1971 1667ms

ALS ALS to Mr. Atkinson
1863 22 June 4p. Request Item

Talks of weather, finally getting outside and "cast my skin, as some reptiles do" and got some sun; believes books of "Coleazo"(?) have problematic thinking; thanks Atkinson for a photograph; plans a party

Provenance: 1971 1819ms

ALS to T. Bailey Lanyborn
1864 July 30 1p. Request Item

Thanks for searching for Cowgill's paper; mentions the bad state of "the late Mr. Burder's (?) papers"

Provenance: 1972 476ms

ALS to Mrs. Webb
1864 Sept. 17 4p. Request Item

Thanks for letter, reminisces about correspondent's father and mother when AS first went to Norwich; AS ordained with her father; late friend from Cambridge student days [Joseph] Romilly mentioned; talks of old age; has family guests; nephew had attack of "monomania" early 1863

Provenance: 1980 1301ms

ALS to My dear Lord
1867 Jan. 5 4p. Request Item

Correspondent should have received AS's "Memorial for the Trustees for Cowgill Chapel"; history of the Chapel; urges correspondent to read especially particular parts of the "Memorial"

Provenance: (1974 1450ms)

ALS to My dear Sir
1867 Aug. 26 2p. Request Item

Correspondent bought a photograph of AS; latest illness; leaves for Cambridge end of Sept.

Provenance: 1980 1301ms

ALS to My dear Adam
1870 April 11 4p. Request Item

To meet correspondent in Bath at the York House Hotel, take baths, go to Salisbury, then go to Dent [AS went to Bath with his great nephew Adam Sedgwick]

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

LS to Dear Sir
1870 Nov. 27 4p. Request Item

Thanks for two pamphlets of the Report of the Proceedings of the Cotteswold Club and a copy of correspondent's essay on the "Charnwood Gravels"; field work has long ended and reading days may be over; bothered by bronchitis but hopes to get through last lectures

Provenance: 1955 1031ms

ALS to Mr. Charlesworth
1870 Dec. 12 3p. Request Item

AS withdrawals his signature from a paper given him by Charlesworth because it was not in regular printer's form and AS does not know the person or his work

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to My dear Sir
Apr. 11 1p. Request Item

Tries to reach correspondent to say impossible to meet correspondent in London this week - had thought meeting of Geological Society was this week but is next week Wed.; would be convenient to rendezvous in Cambridge and go to London together; apologizes for mistake and partly blames sickness

Provenance: 1974 1450ms

ALS to unidentified
Monday morning 1p. Request Item

Asks correspondent to have wine with him.

Provenance: removed from call number B:AL1.2