Robert_Were_Fox_the_Younger

Robert Were Fox the Younger

Robert Were Fox FRS (26 April 178925 July 1877) was an English geologist, natural philosopher and inventor. He is known mainly for his work on the temperature of the earth and his construction of a compass to measure magnetic dip at sea.

Life and family

He was a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and was descended from members who had long settled in Cornwall, although he was not related to George Fox who had introduced the community into the county.

Fox was born on 26 April 1789 at Falmouth, the eldest son of Robert Were Fox (1754 – 1818) and his wife, Elizabeth Tregelles. He had nine siblings.

In 1814, Fox the Younger married Maria Barclay (1785 – 1858), daughter of Robert and Rachel Barclay of Bury Hill, near Dorking, Surrey. Maria's sister, Lucy, married Fox's elder brother, George Croker Fox.

Robert Were Fox the Younger and his wife had three children, Anna Maria (1816 – 1897), Barclay (1817 – 1855) and Caroline (1819 – 1871). Both Caroline and Barclay Fox's journals have been published.

Robert Were Fox the Younger died on July 25, 1877 and was buried at the Quaker Burial Ground at Budock .

Business interests

Fox was involved in many aspects of his family's businesses, along with several of his brothers. He also served as Honorary Consul of the U.S.A in Falmouth from 1819 to 1854.

Fox and Joel Lean were granted a patent in 1812 for their modifications of steam engines.

Horticultural interests

Fox's gardens at Rosehill and Penjerrick, near Falmouth, became noted for the number of exotic plants which he and his son, Barclay, had naturalized.

Scientific work

Fox's work was in what today would be referred to as geophysics. He was distinguished for his researches on the internal temperature of the earth, contributing papers to the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, and being the first to prove that temperature definitely increases with depth (the geothermal gradient), his observations being conducted in Cornish mines from 1815 for a period of forty years. In 1829 he began a set of experiments on the artificial production of miniature metalliferous veins by means of the long-continued influence of electric currents, and his main results were published in 1836.

In 1834 Fox constructed an improved form of deflector dipping needle compass, or dip circle, for polar navigation. One was used by Sir James Clark Ross on his Antarctic expedition and used to discover the position of the South magnetic pole..

He was a key person in the development of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society and its promotion of scientific research and training. He was an active member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

Robert Were Fox, his cousin, George Croker Fox (1784-1850) and brother, Alfred Fox, assembled excellent collections of minerals, which are now in the British Museum (Natural History), given by Arthur Russell.

Honours and activities

The Society owns a collection of 125 letters addressed to Fox and his family.

Selected writings

The following is a very incomplete list of Fox's writings. According to The Dictionary of National Biography (1889), Fox authored 52 scientific papers.

Notes and references

Further reading

External links

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