James Croll – a man ‘greater far than his work

Kevin Edwards* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Popular and scholarly information concerning the life of James Croll has been accumulating slowly since the death in 1890 of the self-taught climate change pioneer. The papers in the current volume offer thorough assessments of topics associated with Croll's work, but this contribution seeks to provide a personal context for an understanding of James Croll the man, as well as James Croll the scholar of sciences and religion. Using archival as well as published sources, emphasis is placed upon selected components of his life and some of the less recognised features of his biography. These include his family history, his many homes, his health, participation in learned societies and attitudes to collegiality, financial problems including the failed efforts to secure a larger pension, and friendship. Life delivered a mixture of ‘trials and sorrows’, but it seems clear from the affection and respect accorded him that many looked upon James Croll as a ‘man greater far than his work’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-190
Number of pages20
JournalEarth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Issue numberSpecial issue 3-4
Early online date29 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

We would like to thank the following for assistance with archival services: British Geological Survey, Keyworth (Andrew L. Morrison); the British Library (Western Manuscripts); Andersonian Library, Archives and Special Collections, University of Strathclyde (Anne Cameron); The National Archives, Kew (Paul Johnson); Haslemere Educational Museum, Sir Archibald Geikie Archive (Robert Neller); Imperial College London, Records and Archives; Milton S. Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins University (James Stimpert). Jamie Bowie (Aberdeen) is thanked for cartographic assistance. We are grateful for comments from Ian Ralston and Caroline Wickham-Jones, which encouraged us to clarify various points in an earlier version of the paper.
Open Access via CUP agreement


  • Croil-Croyle-Croll
  • family history
  • friendship
  • health
  • homes
  • income
  • learned societies
  • pension


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