Sedgwick | Adam | 1785-1873 | geologist and professor of geology, University of Cambridge

Biographical Information

Occupation, Sphere of Activity

Adam Sedgwick's lectures on Geology proved extremely popular despite being optional. This had a large impact on the shaping of English educated opinion on Geology. Sedgwick had a clear and vivid lecturing style.

Sedgwick expanded a geological collection, making it into one of the finest museums in the world. The present Sedgwick museum was erected as a memorial to him. Sedgwick was an excellent field geologist. He worked with Roderick Impey Murchison on the Eastern Alps and believed that Lyell's principles of uniformity should be tested by empirical observation and not assumed a priori.

His most important geological work led to the foundation of the Cambrian system. This arose out of a desire to penetrate the fossil record back to its farthest limits.


Father, Richard Sedgwick, vicar of the rural parish of Dent

Other Significant Information


Honours, Qualifications and Appointments

1808: Awarded Degree in Mathematics with distinction, Trinity College, University of Cambridge

1810: Elected Fellow, Trinity College, University of Cambridge

1817: Ordained

1818: Elected Woodwardian Professor of Geology, University of Cambridge

1818: Elected Fellow, Geological Society of London

1829-1831: Appointed President, Geological Society of London

1863: Awarded Wollaston Medal

1863: Awarded Copley Medal


List of sources for the biographical information:

Dictionary of Scientific Biography Volume II, (New York, Scribner's, 1981)