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.


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Access Information

Access to records within this collection is open, however an appointment may be required. Please email Archives and Special Collections for advice:

Acquisition Information

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

Other Finding Aids

See also University of Glasgow Collections

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)

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Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Applications for permission to quote should be sent to Archives and Special Collections, please email:

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

The plan collection was originally known as PC/N Gregory. It was renumbered DC 005 in 1975. Its original source of acquisition is unknown.


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