1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Blanford, William Thomas

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BLANFORD, WILLIAM THOMAS (1832-1905), English geologist and naturalist, was born in London on the 7th of October 1832. He was educated in private schools in Brighton and Paris, and with a view to the adoption of a mercantile career spent two years in a business house at Civita Vecchia. On returning to England in 1851 he was induced to enter the newly established Royal School of Mines, which his younger brother Henry E. Blanford (1834-1893), afterwards head of the Indian Meteorological Department, had already joined; he then spent a year in the mining school at Freiburg, and towards the close of 1854 both he and his brother obtained posts on the Geological Survey of India. In that service he remained for twenty-seven years, retiring in 1882. He was engaged in various parts of India, in the Raniganj coalfield, in Bombay, and in the coalfield near Talchir, where boulders considered to have been ice-borne were found in the Talchir strata—a remarkable discovery confirmed by subsequent observations of other geologists in equivalent strata elsewhere. His attention was given not only to geology but to zoology, and especially to the land-mollusca and to the vertebrates. In 1866 he was attached to the Abyssinian expedition, accompanying the army to Mágdala and back; and in 1871-1872 he was appointed a member of the Persian Boundary Commission. The best use was made of the exceptional opportunities of studying the natural history of those countries. For his many contributions to geological science Dr Blanford was in 1883 awarded the Wollaston medal by the Geological Society of London; and for his labours on the zoology and geology of British India he received in 1901 a royal medal from the Royal Society. He had been elected F.R.S. in 1874, and was chosen president of the Geological Society in 1888. He was created C.I.E. in 1904. He died in London on the 23rd of June 1905. His principal publications were: Observations on the Geology and Zoology of Abyssinia (1870), and Manual of the Geology of India, with H. B. Medlicott (1879).

Biography, with bibliography and portrait, in Geological Magazine, January 1905.