Robert Bakewell, An Introduction to Geology

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 1369
  • Dates of Creation
      n.d. [1820s?]
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      250 x 200 mm. 1 volume. Paginated, 282 pages (1-282), plus 4 unused folios. Three inserts: painted illustrations. Medium: paper. Binding: Leather (calf)
  • Location
      Collection available at The John Rylands Library, Deansgate

Scope and Content

Contents: A manuscript copy of Robert Bakewell's An Introduction to Geology. The identity of the copyist and the date of compilation is unknown. However, the paper on which the manuscript is written has the watermark "Weatherley 1822" indicating that it was composed in the 1820s at the earliest, after the first edition of the Geology was published. A loose note found with the volume, composed at a later date, suggests the text may be in Bakewell's hand, although there is no definite evidence provided for this. The copy is fair with very few corrections. Three painted illustrations have been inserted between pp. 54-55, 88-89 and 196-197.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Bakewell was born in 1767 at Nottingham into a Quaker family. His father was a wool stapler, and Robert followed him into this trade, moving to Wakefield, West Yorkshire to work. There he married Apphia, daughter of Thomas Simpson, in 1791, and adopted her Unitarian religion.

In 1808, Bakewell's published Observations on the Influence of Soil and Climate upon Wool, which derived from his interest in natural history. After getting into financial difficulties, Bakewell gave up the wool trade and moved to London were he worked as a geological consultant, assisting landowners exploit mineral resources on their properties. He was also a peripatetic public lecturer, and he lectured on geology, at Manchester in 1811 (he published a geology of Manchester in 1814). In 1813 he published An Introduction to Geology, which provided a introductory guide to the geology of Great Britain; this was very successful and went through five editions.

Bakewell enjoyed considerable influence as a geologist, both Charles Lyell and Adam Sedgwick acknowledged his work. Bakewell stressed the practical value of geology, and he was critical of other geologists who he considered over-emphasised Continental theorists such as Abraham Gottlob Werner; this earned him the disapproval of some embers of the Geological Society, and he never became a member of this body. In 1819 he published An introduction to Mineralogy, which was addressed to a non-specialist audience.

On the death of his first wife in 1820, he remarried, and his second wife's wealth allowed him to pursue his geological studies on the Continent. Bakewell continued to publish on geology in the 1830s, composing the geological sections of J R Macculloch's Statistical Account of the British Empire (1837). He died at his home n Hampstead, London in 1843.

Conditions Governing Access

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The manuscript was one of a number of items purchased by the University of Manchester Library from Mrs R Cliffe on 17 May 1967 for £600 (accession no. 530690).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the manuscript can be supplied for private research and study purposes only, depending on the condition of the manuscript.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the manuscript. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The custodial history of the item is unknown. The name "John Hall" is inscribed on the flyleaf, but there is nothing to indicate this individual was the copyist, and this may have been added at a later date.


Bakewell's NDNB entry has been used in compiling this description,H. S. Torrens, 'Bakewell, Robert (1767-1843)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2013 [, accessed 26 July 2016].