3rd June 1726

Father of modern geology is born in Edinburgh

James Hutton was a trailblazer who argued that our planet was far more ancient than previously believed. He had come to this conclusion after examining the Scottish landscape, and particularly the rocks from which it was formed.

Understanding that rocks were not static, but moved extremely slowly, he deduced that the planet could not be as young as many religious scholars claimed.

Early life and education

Hutton was born in Edinburgh in 1726 to William, a former treasurer of the city, and Sarah. His father died when James was just three years old and Sarah brought him up alone. He was educated within the city, first at the high school, and then at the University of Edinburgh. In fact, he attended the university twice: first to study humanities and then to study medicine.

Hutton’s first job was as an apprentice in a law firm, but he lasted less than a year there before switching to a career in physics, which also allowed him to study to become a doctor. In his mid-twenties, he inherited a couple of farms, moved to one of them, and here began his study of the surface of the earth, which developed his interest in geology. This interest continued upon his return to Edinburgh, and part of the city’s Salisbury Crags is now known as Hutton’s Section in honour of his studies there.

Study and travel

While in Edinburgh, he became friendly with many other scientists and academics, including James Watt and Adam Smith. He also became a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. By now, most of his time was taken up with the study of geology and he travelled both in the UK and in northern Europe to study.

James Hutton died in Edinburgh, apparently from the effects of bladder stones and was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard where the stone marking his position names him The Founder of Modern Geology.



Other events that occured in June

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