Papers of John Walter Gregory, 1864-1932, geologist and explorer, Professor of Geology, University of Glasgow, Scotland, 1904-1929

Scope and Content

Professor Gregory and Mr H F Varian led an expedition to the Highlands of Angola in the Spring of 1912. From the evidence of the maps in this collection, it would appear that they were seeking mineral deposits that could be exploited using the new Benguela Railway to transport the products. 22 maps are from this expedition. There are also 4 maps relative to Zimbabwe in 1905.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Walter Gregory was born on the 27 January  1864  . His father was John James Gregory, a wool merchant at Bermondsey, London, and Sittingbourne, Wast Sussex, England. In 1895, he married Audrey, the daughter of the Rev. Ayrton Chaplin of Bassets, Chelmsford, England. They had one son and one daughter. John Walter Gregory was educated at Stepney Grammar School, Bow, London, England. He studied at the University of London while working in the family business. He joined the British Museum as an assistant in the Geology department in 1887 and this took him, in 1891, to the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin of the Western States, America, and, in 1892, to East Africa. In  1896  , he joined Sir Martin Conway's expedition across Spitzbergenin the Arctic Cirlce. He remained at the British Museum until  1900  when he was appointed the Professor of Geology & Mineralogy at the University of Melbourne, Australia. In the same year he was also appointed the Civilian Director of the Scientific Staff on the Antarctic Expedition, although, in 1901, he resigned from this post. In  1902  , Gregory accepted the Directorship of the Geological Survey in the Mines Department, Victoria, Australia. Two years later, in 1904, he joined the  University of Glasgow , Scotland, as Professor of Geology where he remained until his retirement in  1929  .

John Walter Gregory was involved in expeditions to numerous places including: Lake Eyre, Australia, 1901-1902; Cyrenaica, 1908; Southern Angola, 1912; and the Alps of Chinese Tibet, 1922. He was the President of the Geological Section of the British Association in 1907, of the Geographical Society in 1919, and of the Geological Society 1928-1930. He was also a member of various geographical and geological societies. Gregory was a prolific writer and his publications include: The Rift Valley: a narrative of a journey to Mount Kenya and Lake Baringo (1896); Catalogue of Fossil Bryozoa in the British Museum Vol. I, II & III (1896, 1899, 1908); The Mount Lyell Mining Field, Tasmania (1904); The Foundation of British East Africa (1901); The Dead Heart of Australia (1906); The Rift Valleys and the Geology of East Africa (1921); The Menace of Colour (1925); Human Migration and the Future (1928); Elements of Economic Geology (1928); (with C J Gregory) To the Alps of Chinese Tibet (1923); The Story of the Road (1932). In addition to these books he wrote numerous scientific papers on geology, on fossil corals and on mining geology. Professor Gregory died on the 2 June  1932  .

Source: Who was Who 1929-1940 Vol.III (1941, London) and Dictionary of National Biography.


There is no hierarchical arrangement

Conditions Governing Access


Acquisition Information

Permanent Loan : Mr William B Irving : Ayr : 1979 (additional deposit)

Other Finding Aids

There is no item level finding aid.

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)1029) and London (NRA18909)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures

Custodial History

The plan collection was originally known as PC/N Gregory. It was renumbered DC005 in 1975. Its original source of acquisition is unknown.


None expected

Related Material

Records of the Benguela Railway Company in the Tanks Group Archive (TANKS) John Rylands University Library of Manchester (GB 0133) Photographs of the Benguela Railway, National Railway Museum Library and Archives (GB 0756) Correspondence 1899-1904 (MS 1329) Cambridge University: Scott Polar Research Institute (GB 0015) Report on Caribbean 1899 Natural History Museum (GB 0060) Correspondence and papers Royal Geographical Society (GB 0402) Correspondence Oxford University: Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts (GB 0161) Correspondence with the Palestine Exploration Fund 1931 Palestine Exploration Fund (804527) Letters (19) from Alfred Deakin (3296A) National Library of Australia (AU 0635). For contact details of all repositories with a GB code, see the  National Register of Archives search page , at the Historical Manuscripts Commission.

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives,ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives,Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Compiled by Hannah Westall, Archives Assistant, 07 June 2000

Geographical Names