49 Facts About Charles Lyell


Sir Charles Lyell, 1st Baronet, was a Scottish geologist who demonstrated the power of known natural causes in explaining the earth's history.


Charles Lyell is best known today for his association with Charles Darwin and as the author of Principles of Geology, which presented to a wide public audience the idea that the earth was shaped by the same natural processes still in operation today, operating at similar intensities.


Charles Lyell gave influential explanations of earthquakes and developed the theory of gradual "backed up-building" of volcanoes.


Charles Lyell incorrectly conjectured that icebergs were the impetus behind the transport of glacial erratics, and that silty loess deposits might have settled out of flood waters.


Charles Lyell was a close friend of Charles Darwin, and contributed significantly to Darwin's thinking on the processes involved in evolution.


Charles Lyell later published evidence from geology of the time man had existed on the earth.


Lyell's father, named Charles Lyell, was noted as a translator and scholar of Dante.

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Lyell's grandfather, Charles Lyell, had made the family fortune supplying the Royal Navy at Montrose, enabling him to buy Kinnordy House.


Charles Lyell entered Exeter College, Oxford, in 1816, and attended William Buckland's geological lectures.


Charles Lyell completed a circuit through rural England, where he could observe geological phenomena.


In 1832, Charles Lyell married Mary Horner in Bonn, daughter of Leonard Horner, associated with the Geological Society of London.


In 1841, Charles Lyell was elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society.


Charles Lyell's wife died in 1873, and two years later Charles Lyell himself died as he was revising the twelfth edition of Principles.


Charles Lyell is buried in Westminster Abbey where there is a bust to him by William Theed in the north aisle.


Charles Lyell was knighted in 1848, and later, in 1864, made a baronet, which is an hereditary honour.


Charles Lyell was awarded the Copley Medal of the Royal Society in 1858 and the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society in 1866.


Sir Charles Lyell was buried at Westminster Abbey on 27 February 1875.


Charles Lyell had private means, and earned further income as an author.


Charles Lyell came from a prosperous family, worked briefly as a lawyer in the 1820s, and held the post of Professor of Geology at King's College London in the 1830s.


Charles Lyell used each edition to incorporate additional material, rearrange existing material, and revisit old conclusions in light of new evidence.


Charles Lyell asked Robert FitzRoy, captain of HMS Beagle, to search for erratic boulders on the survey voyage of the Beagle, and just before it set out FitzRoy gave Darwin Volume 1 of the first edition of Charles Lyell's Principles.


Charles Lyell rejected Lamarck's idea of organic evolution, proposing instead "Centres of Creation" to explain diversity and territory of species.


Charles Lyell encouraged Darwin to publish, and following the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species, Lyell finally offered a tepid endorsement of evolution in the tenth edition of Principles.


Elements of Geology began as the fourth volume of the third edition of Principles: Charles Lyell intended the book to act as a suitable field guide for students of geology.


The book went through six editions, eventually growing to two volumes and ceasing to be the inexpensive, portable handbook that Charles Lyell had originally envisioned.

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Late in his career, therefore, Charles Lyell produced a condensed version titled Student's Elements of Geology that fulfilled the original purpose.


Charles Lyell is best known for his role in elaborating the doctrine of uniformitarianism.


Charles Lyell played a critical role in advancing the study of loess.


Charles Lyell drew his explanations from field studies conducted directly before he went to work on the founding geology text.


Charles Lyell was, along with the earlier John Playfair, the major advocate of James Hutton's idea of uniformitarianism, that the earth was shaped entirely by slow-moving forces still in operation today, acting over a very long period of time.


Charles Lyell noted the "economic advantages" that geological surveys could provide, citing their felicity in mineral-rich countries and provinces.


One of the contributions that Charles Lyell made in Principles was to explain the cause of earthquakes.


Charles Lyell's conclusions supported gradual building of volcanoes, so-called "backed up-building", as opposed to the upheaval argument supported by other geologists.


Charles Lyell was a key figure in establishing the classification of more recent geological deposits, long known as the Tertiary period.


In 1839, Charles Lyell termed the Pleistocene epoch, distinguishing a more recent fossil layer from the Pliocene.


In recent years Charles Lyell's subdivisions have been widely discussed in relation to debates about the Anthropocene.


Furthermore, Charles Lyell believed that the accumulation of fine angular particles covering much of the world was a deposit settled from mountain flood water.


Charles Lyell initially accepted the conventional view of other men of science, that the fossil record indicated a directional geohistory in which species went extinct.


Charles Lyell struggled with the implications for human dignity, and later in 1827 wrote private notes on Lamarck's ideas.


Charles Lyell reconciled transmutation of species with natural theology by suggesting that it would be as much a "remarkable manifestation of creative Power" as creating each species separately.


Charles Lyell countered Lamarck's views by rejecting continued cooling of the earth in favour of "a fluctuating cycle", a long-term steady-state geohistory as proposed by James Hutton.


Charles Lyell explicitly rejected Lamarck's concept of transmutation of species, drawing on Cuvier's arguments, and concluded that species had been created with stable attributes.


Charles Lyell discussed the geographical distribution of plants and animals, and proposed that every species of plant or animal was descended from a pair or individual, originated in response to differing external conditions.


Charles Lyell was vague about how replacement species formed, portraying this as an infrequent occurrence which could rarely be observed.


Charles Lyell continued to be a close personal friend, and Lyell was one of the first scientists to support On the Origin of Species, though he did not subscribe to all its contents.

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Charles Lyell was a friend of Darwin's closest colleagues, Hooker and Huxley, but unlike them he struggled to square his religious beliefs with evolution.


Charles Lyell had particular difficulty in believing in natural selection as the main motive force in evolution.


The Antiquity of Man drew these comments from Darwin to Huxley: "I am fearfully disappointed at Charles Lyell's excessive caution" and "The book is a mere 'digest'".


Quite strong remarks: no doubt Darwin resented Charles Lyell's repeated suggestion that he owed a lot to Lamarck, whom he had always specifically rejected.