Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David KBE, CMG, DSO, FRS (28 January 1858 – 28 August 1934), professionally known as Edgeworth David, was a Welsh Australian geologist and Antarctic explorer. A household name in his lifetime, David's most significant achievements were discovering the major Hunter Valley coalfield in New South Wales and leading the first expedition to reach the South Magnetic Pole. He also served with distinction in World War I.
Sir Tannatt William Edgeworth David
Portrait of Sir T.W. Edgeworth David in 1922
|Born||28 January 1858|
St. Fagans, Wales
|Died||28 August 1934 (aged 76)|
|Cause of death||Lobar pneumonia|
|Spouse(s)||Caroline (Cara) Martha Mallett, married 30 July 1885|
|Children||Margaret E. 1886–1948|
Mary E. 1888–1987
William E. 1890–
|Education||Magdalen College School, Oxford|
|Alma mater||New College, Oxford|
|Occupation||Geologist, academic, polar explorer, soldier, public figure|
|Known for||Discovery of Hunter Valley coalfields |
Funafuti drilling expeditions
First ascent of Mount Erebus
First team to reach the South Magnetic Pole
|Civilian awards||Bigsby Medal (1899)|
Fellow of the Royal Society (1900)
Mueller Medal (1909)
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (1910)
Wollaston Medal (1915)
Clarke Medal (1917)
Patron's Medal (1926)
|Branch/service||Australian Imperial Force|
|Years of service||1915–19|
|Unit||Australian Mining Corps|
|Battles/wars||First World War|
|Military awards||Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire|
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches (2)
David was born on 28 January 1858, in St. Fagans near Cardiff, Wales, the eldest son of the Rev. William David, a fellow of Jesus College, Oxford, a classical scholar and naturalist and his wife Margaret Harriette (née Thomson). His mother's cousin, William A. E. Ussher of the Geological Survey, first interested David in what was to be his life work.
At the age of 12, David went to Magdalen College School, Oxford in 1870. In 1876 he gained a classical scholarship to New College, Oxford. While there he was lectured by the famous John Ruskin and William Spooner. In 1878 he suffered a health breakdown and travelled to Canada and Australia to recuperate. Returning to Oxford, he attended lectures on geology by Sir Joseph Prestwich which stimulated his interest in the subject. After graduating as a Bachelor of Arts without honours in 1880, he spent the following two years in field study of the geology of Wales. In November 1881 he read his first paper, Evidences of Glacial Action in the Neighbourhood of Cardiff before the Cardiff Naturalists' Society. In the following year he briefly studied at the Royal School of Mines, London, under Professor J.W. Judd before accepting the position of Assistant Geological Surveyor to the Government of New South Wales, Australia.
David took up his post in November 1882. In 1884 his report on the tin deposits in the New England district was published, and three years later it was expanded into the Geology of the Vegetable Creek Tin Mining Field, New England District. Apart from its scientific interest this was valuable in connection with the mining operations on this field, from which some £10,000,000 worth of tin was won. On 30 July 1885 he married to Caroline (Cara) Mallett, principal of the Hurlstone Training College for Teachers, who had travelled to Australia in the same vessel with him.
In April 1886 he began surveying the Hunter Valley coalfields and in August discovered the Greta coal seam, which yielded over £50,000,000 worth of coal up to 1949. Much of his time during the next four years was spent near Maitland where he was still tracing and mapping the coal measures and reporting to the government on other matters of commercial value. David's assistant in 1890 was William Sutherland Dun.
In 1891 David was appointed Professor of Geology at the University of Sydney, a position he held until 1924.
David was not only a good scientist but very cultured, with a sense of humour, great enthusiasm, sympathy, and courtesy, and he quickly fitted into his new position. His department was housed in a small cottage, its equipment was poor, and he had no lecturers or demonstrators; but he gradually got better facilities and built up his department. In 1892 he was president of the geological section of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science at the Hobart meeting, and held the same position at Brisbane in 1895.
In 1896 David went to the Pacific atoll of Funafuti as part of an expedition under Professor William Sollas of Oxford in order to take borings which it was hoped would settle the question of the formation of coral atolls. There were defects in the boring machinery and the bore penetrated only slightly more than 100 feet (approx. 31 m). In 1897 David led a second expedition (that included George Sweet as second-in-command, and Walter George Woolnough) which succeeded in reaching a depth of 557 feet (170 m) after which he had to return to Sydney. He then organised a third expedition in 1898 which, under the leadership of Dr. Alfred Edmund Finckh, was successful in carrying the bore to 1114 feet (340 m). The results provided support for Charles Darwin's theory of subsidence, and the expeditions made David's name as a geologist. Cara accompanied him on the second expedition and published a well-received account called Funafuti, or Three Months on a Coral Island.
David's reputation was growing in Europe, and in 1899 he was awarded the Bigsby Medal by the Geological Society of London, and in 1900 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society. From 1900 to 1907 he conducted field studies of glaciation in the Kosciusko plateau and Precambrian glaciation in South Australia.
In 1904 David was elected president of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science which met in Dunedin, and in 1906 he attended the International Geological Congress held in Mexico. On his way back to Australia he was able to see the Grand Canyon of the Colorado and to study the effect of the San Francisco earthquake.
In mid-1907 David was invited to join Shackleton's Nimrod Expedition to the Antarctic and in December won Australian Government funding for the expedition. The same month he left for New Zealand with Leo Cotton and Douglas Mawson, two of his former students. David was nearly 50 years of age and it was intended that he would stay only until April 1908, but en route to Antarctica on the Nimrod he altered his plans and decided to stay for the whole expedition.
From 5 to 11 March 1908, David led the first ascent of Mount Erebus, the only active volcano in Antarctica. David led the summit party consisting of Mawson, Dr Alistair Mackay and himself, and there was a supporting party of three which it was afterwards decided should also attempt to reach the summit. In this they were successful in spite of a blizzard which barred their progress for a day and night. One member of the party had his feet badly frostbitten, and had to be left in camp before the final dash, but David and four others reached the summit and the whole party returned to the base.
On 5 October 1908, David led Mawson and Mackay on an attempt to reach the Magnetic South Pole. For ten weeks the men followed the coast north supplementing their stores with a diet of seals and penguins. They then crossed the Drygalski Ice Tongue and turned inland. They still faced a 700 km return journey and established a depot to enable them to transfer their load to one overladen sled and to remove the need to relay. On 16 January 1909 they finally arrived at the South Magnetic Pole and took possession of the region for the British Crown.
Edgeworth David had been appointed leader of the expedition by Shackleton but by the end of January with all three of the party experiencing severe physical deterioration, David was increasingly unable to contribute. On 31 January Mackay exerted his authority as the party's doctor and threatened to declare the Professor insane unless he gave written authority of leadership to Mawson. Mawson took command, writing in his diary on 3 February "the Prof was now certainly partly demented". That day the party reached the coast line with perfect timing as within 24 hours they were collected by the Nimrod for the return trip to Cape Royds. The trio had covered a distance of 1260 miles which stood as the longest unsupported sled journey until the mid-1980s.
Shackleton's expedition returned to New Zealand on 25 March 1909. When David returned to Sydney he was presented with the Mueller medal by the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science at a rapturous official welcome.
At Shackleton's request David then went on a lecture tour, and earned enough money to pay the expenses of publication of the two volumes on the geology of the expedition. He also wrote his "Narrative of the Magnetic Pole Journey", which appeared in the second volume of Shackleton's Heart of the Antarctic. In 1910 the honour of Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George was conferred on him, and visiting England in connexion with the scientific results of the Antarctic expedition, Oxford University gave him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. In 1911-12 he provided public and practical support for the Japanese Antarctic Expedition which was wintering in Sydney. In 1913 he was elected for the second time president of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science and in 1926 presented with the Patron's Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.
When World War I broke out in 1914, David was a strenuous supporter of the war effort, supporting the campaign for conscription. In August 1915, after reading reports about mining operations and tunnelling during the Gallipoli Campaign, along with Professor Ernest Skeats, a professor at the University of Melbourne, David wrote a proposal to Senator George Pearce, the Australian Defence Minister, suggesting that the government raise a military force to undertake mining and tunnelling. After the proposal was accepted, David used his advocacy and organisational abilities to set up the Australian Mining Corps, and on 25 October 1915 he was appointed as a major, at the age of 57.
The first contingent of the corps consisted of 1,300 officers and men that were initially organised into two battalions before being reorganised into three tunnelling companies, as well as an electrical and mechanical mining company. After departing Australia for the United Kingdom in February 1916, the corps arrived on the Western Front in May 1916. Given the title 'Geological Adviser to the Controllers of Mines in the First, Second and Third Armies', David became relatively independent and spent his time in geological investigations, using his expertise to advise on the construction of dugouts, trenches, and tunnels, the siting of wells for provision of pure drinking water from underground supplies, giving lectures, and producing maps. In September 1916 he fell to the bottom of a well he was examining, breaking two ribs and rupturing his urethra. He was invalided to London but returned to the Front in November, assuming the role of geological technical advisor to the British Expeditionary Force.
On 7 June 1917 his wartime contribution culminated in the mining of German positions in the Battle of Messines. In January 1918, David was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and in November he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. The war having concluded, he was demobilised in 1919. He was also Mentioned in Despatches twice.
In 1896 the Davids bought 26 acres (10.5 hectares) at Woodford, in the Blue Mountains, with an existing weatherboard cottage, two-roomed with two skillion rooms at the back. To emphasise his Welsh origins, Edgeworth David named the Woodford cottage ‘Tyn-y-Coed’, the ‘house in the trees’ (often mistranslated as ‘the shack in the bush’: ‘ty’ is a proper house in Welsh, not a mere hut).
In 1915 the Davids offered their home to the Red Cross convalescent home for the rehabilitation of injured servicemen and the Woodford Academy boys erected a flagstaff for the Union Jack and Red Cross flags for the soldiers in residence. When the Cooee marchers trooped past in November 1915 some of the wounded soldiers were brought up to the main road to greet the marchers. Although they had work and commitments in Sydney, Woodford was the David's primary residence from 1899 until 1920. They retained the Woodford cottage as a favoured country retreat until Edgeworth's death in 1934. Tyn-y-Coed was destroyed by bushfire in 1944 with only a chimney stump remaining. Its grounds are now occupied by eight modern houses, their gardens and adjoining bush.
In September 1920, David was created a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services during the war.
Returning to Australia, David purchased Coringah, a cottage in the Sydney suburb of Hornsby. He also took up a long-cherished project, the writing of a definitive work, The Geology of the Commonwealth of Australia. In 1921–22 David helped set up the Australian National Research Council and served as its first President. In 1924 he retired as Professor of Geology at the University of Sydney, the chair passing to his student Leo Cotton, a neighbour in Hornsby, New South Wales, whose brother Max Cotton created Lisgar Gardens in Hornsby. In 1928 he discovered what he believed were Precambrian fossils, creating controversy which remained until his death.
In 1931 he published the Geological Map of the Commonwealth and the accompanying Explanatory Notes, designed to be part of his Geology of the Commonwealth of Australia. He died in 1934 without being able to complete this work and was given a state funeral.
David's The Geology of the Commonwealth of Australia was finally completed by his chosen collaborator, Associate Professor William R. Browne in 1950. Of his many papers, over 100 will be found listed in the Geological Magazine for January 1922. A travelling scholarship in his memory was founded at the University of Sydney in 1936.
The Edgeworth David Medal is named in his honour. It is awarded by the Royal Society of New South Wales for distinguished contributions by a young scientist under the age of thirty-five for work done mainly in Australia or its territories. The mineral davidite is named after him, as was the Edgeworth David Building (demolished 2006) at the University of Sydney and Edgeworth David Avenue in Hornsby, New South Wales where he spent his later years. He has been depicted on two Australian postage stamps. The Edgeworth David Building at Tighes Hill TAFE campus in the New South Wales Hunter Valley is named in his honour.
The boreholes on Funafuti, Tuvalu are known as David's Drill.
...when the wind veered and Tyn-y-coed, undefended, went up in flames, leaving nothing but the usual residue of brick chimneys and hearths.
John Edward Marr
| Wollaston Medal
William Aitcheson Haswell
| Clarke Medal
Alistair Mackay was a Scottish doctor and polar explorer. He was one of the trio of explorers, along with Douglas Mawson and Professor Edgeworth David, that became the first humans to reach the South Magnetic Pole.Arthur Bache Walkom
Arthur Bache Walkom (8 February 1889 – 2 July 1976) was an Australian palaeobotanist and museum director.
Walkom was born in Grafton, New South Wales and moved with his family to Sydney where he was educated at Petersham Public and Fort Street Model schools and the University of Sydney graduating with a D.Sc. in 1918. He worked under Professor (Sir) Edgeworth David as a junior demonstrator.
He was an Assistant Lecturer in palaeontology and stratigraphy at the University of Queensland from 1913-1919.
From 1939–1954 Walkom was the director of the Australian Museum. From 1947–1954 he served on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's Australian committee for museums.
He was awarded the Clarke Medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1948.
A fossil conifer genus, Walkomiella, was named after him.Backstairs Passage Glacier
Backstairs Passage Glacier (75°2′S 162°36′E) is a glacier about 2 nautical miles (4 km) long, draining east along the north side of Mount Crummer to the Ross Sea. The Magnetic Pole Party, led by Edgeworth David, of the British Antarctic Expedition, 1907–09, ascended this glacier from the Ross Sea, then continued the ascent via Larsen Glacier to the plateau of Victoria Land. So named by David's party because of the circuitous route to get to Larsen Glacier.David Range
The David Range (67°54′S 62°30′E) is a mountain range 5 miles (8 km) west of the Masson Range, which it parallels, in the Framnes Mountains of Antarctica. It extends 16 miles (26 km) in a north-northeast–south-southwest direction, with peaks rising to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft).
It was discovered on 14 February 1931 by the British Australian New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition under Douglas Mawson, who named it for Professor Sir T.W. Edgeworth David.Davidite
Davidite is a rare earth oxide mineral with chemical end members La and Ce. It exists in two forms:
Davidite-(La) (La,Ce,Ca)(Y,U)(Ti,Fe3+)20O38 discovered at Radium Hill mine, South Australia in 1906 and named by Douglas Mawson for Australian geologist Tannatt William Edgeworth David (1858-1934).
Davidite-(Ce) (Ce,La)(Y,U)(Ti,Fe3+)20O38 first described in 1960 from Vemork, Iveland, Norway.Edgeworth David Base
Edgeworth David Base is a refuge and research outpost named after Sir Edgeworth David, located in Northern Bunger Hills. It was opened in 1986 by the Australian Antarctic Division. It is temporary visited during the summer season and used for geological, geophysical, geomorphological and biological research.Edgeworth David Medal
The Edgeworth David Medal is awarded annually by the Royal Society of New South Wales for distinguished contributions by a young scientist under the age of 35 years for work done predominantly in Australia or which contributed to the advancement of Australian science.It was first awarded in 1949 and is named after the pioneering geologist Sir Edgeworth David, FRS.George Sweet
George Sweet (1844 – 1920) was an English-born Australian geologist, president of the Royal Society of Victoria in 1905.
Sweet investigated fossils in the Mansfield district for Frederick McCoy 1888-95, and was second-in-command to Sir Edgeworth David on the Funafuti expedition in 1897. He was a fellow of the Geological Society
Sweet's daughter, Georgina Sweet (1875–1946), became a zoologist and philanthropist.Gustavus Athol Waterhouse
Gustavus Athol Waterhouse (21 May 1877 – 29 July 1950), was an eminent Australian entomologist.
Waterhouse was born at Waverley in Sydney. His father, Gustavus John, was a Tasmanian born ship owner who also served as an alderman on the Sydney Municipal Council. His mother, Mary Jane, was also Australian born. Both parents were avid collectors: Gustavus senior collected Pacific Island artefacts; and Mary Jane collected shells. They had five children, Athol being the eldest. He was educated at Waverley Public, then at the Sydney Grammar School, where he was followed by his brothers—Eben Gowrie and Leslie Vickery—and spent lunch hours browsing in the Australian Museum next door.After matriculating from Grammar in 1895, Waterhouse enrolled at the University of Sydney, where he graduated with bachelor's degrees in science (1899) and engineering (1900). His science degree was awarded with first class honours in geology and palaeontology, having studied volcanic dykes in the Triassic rocks around Sydney under Professor (Sir) Edgeworth David.Upon graduation, Waterhouse was employed as an assistant assayer at the Sydney branch of the Royal Mint until 1926.Towards the end of his time at the Royal Mint he was awarded his Doctor of Science degree in 1924.
He married Beatrice Talbot Stretton at Waverley on 12 September 1902 in a Methodist ceremony. The marriage produced two daughters and three sons. Their son, Stretton Gustavus John Waterhouse, was killed in action in New Guinea in 1943 during WW II. The Stretton Waterhouse Memorial Prize, donated by Mrs Waterhouse in his memory, is awarded annually to the Dux of Year Ten at Newington College.Hornsby, New South Wales
Hornsby is a suburb on the Upper North Shore of Sydney in the Australian state of New South Wales 25 kilometres (16 mi) north-west of the Sydney central business district. It is the administrative centre of the local government area of Hornsby Shire.James Arthur Pollock
James Arthur Pollock, FRS, (17 November 1865 – 24 May 1922) was an Irish-born physicist, active in Australia.
Born in Douglas, County Cork, Ireland and educated in England, in 1885 Pollock moved to Australia followed with by his family. In 1886, he was appointed second astronomical assistant to the New South Wales government astronomer, Henry Chamberlain Russell.In 1889 Pollock became professor of physics at the University of Sydney. He studied atmospheric ions and vacuum technology amongst other areas.In World War I, Pollock enlisted in the Engineering Corps and served with Edgeworth David. Pollock designed apparatus for use in tunnelling. This enabled destruction of German fortifications on the Messines and Wytschaete ridges in Belgium. He finished the war with the rank of major.
Pollock died in Sydney, he had no children. He was buried in Waverley Cemetery.John Wesley Judd
John Wesley Judd (18 February 1840 – 3 March 1916) was a British geologist.
He was born in Portsmouth the son of George and Jannette Judd and educated at the Royal School of Mines, where he later became Professor of Geology.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1877. He was President of the Geological Society between 1886 and 1888 and awarded their Wollaston Medal in 1891. He was later Dean of the Royal College of Science.Notable pupils of his include Edgeworth David, William Fraser Hume and Frederick Chapman.Leonard Keith Ward
Leonard Keith Ward (17 February 1879 – 30 September 1964) was an Australian geologist and public servant.
Ward was born in Petersham, New South Wales and was educated at Sydney and Brisbane Grammar Schools then the University of Sydney (B.A., 1900; B.E., 1903) where he was taught by Edgeworth David.
Ward work for Broken Hill Proprietary then at the Western Australian School of Mines, Kalgoorlie, from 1903. He played one first-class cricket match for Tasmania in 1907-08. In 1919 he became secretary to the minister of mines.
Ward was awarded the Clarke Medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1930 and the Verco Medal by the Royal Society of South Australia in 1955.List of Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 1900
Fellows of the Royal Society elected in 1900.Margaret McIntyre
Margaret Edgeworth David McIntyre, (28 November 1886 – 2 September 1948) was the first woman elected to the Parliament of Tasmania, representing the seat of Cornwall in the Legislative Council.Nimrod Expedition
The Nimrod Expedition of 1907–09, otherwise known as the British Antarctic Expedition, was the first of three expeditions to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton. Its main target, among a range of geographical and scientific objectives, was to be first to the South Pole. This was not attained, but the expedition's southern march reached a Farthest South latitude of 88° 23' S, just 97.5 nautical miles (180.6 km; 112.2 mi) from the pole. This was by far the longest southern polar journey to that date and a record convergence on either Pole. A separate group led by Welsh Australian geology professor Edgeworth David reached the estimated location of the South Magnetic Pole, and the expedition also achieved the first ascent of Mount Erebus, Antarctica's second highest volcano.
The expedition lacked governmental or institutional support, and relied on private loans and individual contributions. It was beset by financial problems and its preparations were hurried. Its ship, Nimrod, was less than half of the size of Robert Falcon Scott's 1901–04 expedition ship Discovery, and Shackleton's crew lacked relevant experience. Controversy arose from Shackleton's decision to base the expedition in McMurdo Sound, close to Scott's old headquarters, in contravention of a promise to Scott that he would not do so. Nevertheless, although the expedition's profile was initially much lower than that of Scott's six years earlier, its achievements attracted nationwide interest and made Shackleton a public hero. The scientific team, which included the future Australasian Antarctic Expedition leader Douglas Mawson, carried out extensive geological, zoological and meteorological work. Shackleton's transport arrangements, based on Manchurian ponies, motor traction, and sled dogs, were innovations which, despite limited success, were later copied by Scott for his ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition.
On his return, Shackleton overcame the Royal Geographical Society's initial scepticism about his achievements and received many public honours, including a knighthood from King Edward VII. He made little financial gain from the expedition and eventually depended on a government grant to cover its liabilities. Within three years his southernmost record had been surpassed, as first Amundsen and then Scott reached the South Pole. In his own moment of triumph, Amundsen nevertheless observed: "Sir Ernest Shackleton's name will always be written in the annals of Antarctic exploration in letters of fire".Olive Fitzhardinge
Olive Fitzhardinge (1881–1956) was an Australian rose breeder, the first to patent her work. Her four surviving roses are held in Australian collections. Her roses were well received in the 1930s but after the Second World War favoured styles of roses changed significantly.Seaham, New South Wales
Seaham is a suburb of the Port Stephens local government area in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the Williams River which flows into the Hunter River 14.6 km (9.1 mi) downstream from Seaham village at Raymond Terrace.
It is a rural community supporting a small but expanding population. While the actual village of Seaham, which is located in the north-eastern corner of the suburb, is relatively compact and composed of only a handful of streets, the suburb itself covers an area of approximately 42.8 km2 (16.5 sq mi). At the 2011 census, Seaham had a population of 1,025. Greater Seaham covers an even larger area and incorporates East Seaham, Brandy Hill, Eagleton and Eskdale Estate.South Maitland coalfields
The South Maitland coalfields was the most extensive coalfield in New South Wales until the great coal mining slump of the 1960s. It was discovered by Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson's party when they were engaged in an exploratory visit to the Hunter River Valley during July 1801.
Mention has been made that coal was being mined in the area during the 1840s, and about 1850 an outcrop in the vicinity of Mount Vincent was reported to the authorities. Several years later, Mr.Bourn Russell also known as Captain Russell commenced operations in a small way at Stoney Creek, Homeville (New South Wales), near Farley. The potential wealth of the coalfields was brought forward in 1886 by Professor Tannatt William Edgeworth David who located an outcrop of first grade coal at Deep Creek, near the present township of Abermain. This gentleman was instrumental in having the whole coal-bearing area, estimated at 20,000 acres (81 km²), reserved for mining purposes.
The coalfields were subsequently served by the South Maitland Railway which left the New South Wales Government's Great Northern Railway above Maitland at the East Greta Junction, 20 miles 65 chains (33.49 km) north of Newcastle. This 'railway' was in fact a considerable number of lines which all, at some point, merged, but had different original ownerships. On 22 November 1918 the first meeting took place of the South Maitland Railways Proprietary Limited, a company incorporated with a capital of £500,000 in £1 shares, and this company eventually acquired the entire coalfields railway network. The line remains open serving the last remaining Colliery at Pelton.
The coalfields roughly commenced at the village of East Greta, about 3 miles (5 km) west of Maitland, and stretched all the way to the village of Paxton, 5 miles (8.0 km) south-west of Cessnock, covering innumerable villages and towns, and employing tens of thousands of people in over 30 collieries. The two companies which came to dominate the district were Caledonian Collieries Limited, and J & A Brown & Abermain-Seaham Collieries Limited (a merger of three formerly separate companies). These 2 companies merged in 1960 forming Coal & Allied Industries Limited, who bought Hebburn Co in July 1967.