RECORD: Darwin, C. R. et al. 1838. Copy of a Memorial presented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer [Thomas Spring Rice], recommending the Purchase of Fossil Remains for the British Museum. Parliamentary Papers, Accounts and Papers 1837-1838, paper number (637), volume XXXVI.307 (27 July): 1.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by Angus Carroll, text prepared and edited by John van Wyhe 6.2007. RN2

NOTE: See record in the Freeman Bibliographical Database, enter its Identifier here. With thanks to David Allan Feller for identifing an error in the footnotes. The copy scanned is from the collection of Angus Carroll. This item was later published in Correspondence vol. 18, Supplement, 1835-1869.



COPY of Memorial presented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer,1 recommending the Purchase of Fossil Remains for the British Museum.

(Mr. Warburton.)2

Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed, 27 July 1838.


1 Thomas Spring Rice (1790-1966). This memorial was reprinted in Darwin 1839.

2 Henry Warburton (1784–1858), MP for Bridport, 1826-1841, President of the Geological Society, 1843-1845.

[page 1]


RETURN to an ORDER of the Honourable The House of Commons, dated 6 July 1838;—for,

COPY of a Memorial presented to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, recommending the Purchase, by the Trustees of the British Museum, of the two Collections of FOSSIL REMAINS belonging to Mr. Mansell1 and Mr. Hawkins.2

Whitehall Treasury Chambers, 25 July 1838.



The MEMORIAL of your Petitioners humbly Showeth,

THAT your Petitioners have heard with great concern that a recent offer for sale to the British Museum, by Mr. Mansell and Mr. Hawkins, of two valuable collections, illustrating the geology of an important portion of England, has been declined, in consequence of the deficiency of the national revenue for the present year.

That many of your Petitioners who are conversant with the subject have examined these collections, and consider them not only to be of peculiar value as demonstrating the subterraneous structure of this country, but also of general interest to the scientific world, as throwing new and important lights on many branches of research that are now conducted with unexampled activity in all countries, for the purpose of illustrating the physical history of the globe, and applying such knowledge also to the useful purposes of life.

That with a view to the advancement of such objects, societies and museums have been established in nearly all the large provincial towns of this kingdom, and still more extensive museums provided at the national expense by all the Governments in the civilized world. And as your Petitioners would consider it to be conducive to the honour and scientific reputation of England if these collections were placed in the British Museum, so it would be, in their opinion, both detrimental to science and injurious to the honour of the nation if they were allowed to be broken up and dispersed by public sale, or purchased by any foreign Government.

That the getting together of these collections has resulted from a concurrence of such rare opportunities and extraordinary qualifications in the individuals by whom they have been made, that if the occasion which now offers of securing to the nation the fruits of such rare coincidences be not made use of it must be lost for ever.

And your Petitioners will ever pray, &c.

(signed) Wm. Buckland, Professor of Geology, Oxon.

A. Sedgwick, Woodwardian Professor, Cambridge.

John Phillips, Professor of Geology in King's College, London.

W. Whewill, [sic] Pres. G. S.

Rod. Murchison, Vice Pres. Geol. Socy.

Charles Lyell, Vice Pres. Geol. Socy.

Charles Stokes, F.R.S., F.G.S., and L.S.

William J. Hamilton, Sec. Geol. Socy.

Edward Norwich, President of the Linnean Society, F.G.S.

Richard Owen, Hunterian Professor Royal College of Surgeons, London.

William Clift, Conservator of the Museum, ditto.

Charles Babbage.

J. Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., and F.G.S.

P. M. Roget, M.D., Sec. R.S., and F.G.S.

John Taylor, F.R.S., F.L.S., F.G.S., Treasurer to the British Association.

Northampton, F.G.S.

Charles Darwin, Sec. of Geol. Socy.4

W. T. Broderip, F.R.S, F.G.S., F.L.S., &c.


1 Gideon Algernon Mantell (1790-1852), physician, geologist and palaeontologist who collected invertebrate and dinosaur fossils. He was paid £4,000 in 1838 for his collection.

2 Thomas Hawkins (1810-1889), palaeontological collector. Hawkins was paid £1,800 in 1840 for his collection. He sold an earlier collection of saurian fossils to the Museum in 1834 for £1,310.

3 Francis Thornhill Baring (1796-1866), MP for Portsmouth, 1826-1865 and Joint Secretary of the Treasury, 1835-1839.

4 Darwin became a member of the Geological Society of London in 1836 and was Secretary from 16 February 1838 to 19 February 1841. See Correspondence vol. 2.

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