The Reverend William Buckland Died this Day in 1856
The Reverend William Buckland, English clergyman, academic, naturalist and passionate geologist died this day in 1856. It was Buckland who was given the task of scientifically describing the first species of dinosaur to be recognised as an extinct reptile. The dinosaur was Megalosaurus and the description took place in 1824. The full species name for Megalosaurus is Meglosaurus bucklandii (after Buckland). The Reverend Buckland was given the task of examining a fossilised piece of lower jaw, although the name had already been given to the animal by another scientist – James Parkinson two years earlier. Although regarded as eccentric (mainly because he kept wild animals such as bears at his home), William Buckland went on to become Dean of Westminster Abbey.
He dedicated himself to working on scientific studies of the make up and landscape of the British Isles and his work became standard texts for other academics in Late Georgian and Early Victorian England. His most influential work, attempted to link the increasing amount of fossil evidence to accepted religious beliefs. Three editions of “Observations on the Organic Remains contained in caves, fissures, and diluvial gravel attesting the Action of a Universal Deluge” were produced during his lifetime.
He was appointed Dean of Westminster Abbey in 1845, one of our favourite “Buckland snippets”, pieces of trivia concerning this scientist, is that, he had engraved onto his umbrella the words “Stolen from Dean Buckland”.