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William Conybeare

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Rev. William Daniel Conybeare, FRS (Born::June 7, 1787Died::August 12, 1857) was an English geologist born in London, England on June 7, 1787. He was grandson of John Conybeare and son of Dr. William Conybeare. He was first educated at Westminister School. In 1805 he went to Christ Church, Oxford [1] where he studied with William Buckland [2]. In 1808 he earned his degree of BA, with a first in classics and a second in mathematics. He went on to earn his MA three years later. In 1821 he, along with Henry De la Beche, earned recognition by describing the Plesiosaurus, from fragmentary remains alone. His work was later proved in 1823 by Mary Anning, who discovered better-preserved Plesiosaur remains [3].

He helped to found the Bristol Philosophical Institution in 1822. During this year he also published his most principle work, the Outlines of the Geology of England and Wales, which was co-authored by William Phillips. From 1823 to 1836 he was rector of Sully in Glamorganshire, a vicar of Axminster from 1836 to 1844, and was appointed the dean of Llandaff in 1845. In 1844 he was awarded the Wollaston medal by the Geological Society of London [4].

His publications include many geological memoirs to Transactions of the Geological Society as well as to the Annals of Philosophy and Philosophical Magazine. Some of his most important memoirs, which were co-authored by Dr. William Buckland, are those on the south-western coal district of England, which he published in 1824. In 1839 he also wrote on the valley of the Thames, on Elie de Beaumont's theory of mountain-chains, and on the great land-slip which occurred near Lyme Regis [5].

He firmly believed that geologic science confirmed and supported the biblical account. His work in paleontology was held second to his devotion to God. He is also said to have denounced Lamarck’s transmutational theories as “monstrous [6].” On the August 12, 1857, only a few short months after his son’s death, he died at Ichenstoke [7]. He is buried near the Chapter House at Llandaff Cathedral [8].


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