Adam Sedgwick: Letters and Papers

Scope and Content

Section I

A-H. Letters to Sedgwick, 1821-1849, relating to English geology, museum accessions, etc.

Section II

A-Z, AA-II. Letters to Sedgwick, 1850-1872, relating to geology, the work of John William Salter, museum accessions, Lucas Barratt, etc. The correspondents include Harry Govier Seeley, Henry Keeping and Henry Wilkinson Cookson.

JJ-OO. Letters to George William Featherstonhaugh and Osmond Fisher, 1827-c.1890s. The correspondents include Sir Richard Owen, Roderick Murchison and his wife, William Buckland, and Charles Lyell.

Section III

A-C. Letters from Sedgwick collected for his biography, 1820-c.1870s. The correspondents include G.W. Featherstonhaugh and H.G. Seeley.

D-G. Transcripts of letters to and from Sedgwick, 1828-1872. The correspondents include R. Murchison, John Beete Jukes, William Willoughby Cole (3rd Earl of Enniskillen), and C. Lyell.

H. Notebooks of Sedgwick and the Rev. Holmes of Freckenham, near Newmarket.

I. Letters about the Sedgwick Memorial, 1873.

Section IV

A-D. Letters to Professor Robert Harkness, c.1851-1878. The correspondents include Sedgwick, R. Murchison and C. Lyell.

Section V

A-S. Papers of Thomas McKenny Hughes, 1818-1916. Material mainly connected with Hughes's work on theLife and letters of the Reverend Adam Sedwick, such as publications by Sedgwick, letters about Sedgwick, and Hughes's own notes, with correspondence and reviews of the finished biography. The correspondents include John George Goodchild, Thomas Davidson, Charles John Adrian Meyumler;, Valentine Searles Wood senior, and Valentine Searles Wood junior.

Administrative / Biographical History

Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873) was born in Dent, Yorkshire, on 22 March 1785, and educated at Sedbergh School and Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1808. He gained a Fellowship in 1810, was ordained in 1816, and was elected to the Woodwardian Professorship of Geology at Cambridge in 1818. Over the next fifty years he lectured regularly and did much to promote the study of natural science in the university, and was a founder of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. He often spent his vacations carrying out fieldwork in Great Britain, and helped to increase the university's geological collections. He published many papers, and was active in the Geological Society, Royal Society and British Association. He was also involved in much university business and in Church affairs, becoming a canon of Norwich Cathedral in 1834. He died on 27 January 1873.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Department of Geology, 1964.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room. There is also a card index to the collection.


John Willis Clark and Thomas McKenny Hughes's Life and letters of the Reverend Adam Sedgwick (Cambridge, 1890) drew on material from the collection, some of which was removed by Clark himself and not restored subsequently.