Harkness, Robert (DNB00)

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HARKNESS, ROBERT (1816–1878), geologist, born at Ormskirk, Lancashire, on 28 July 1816, was educated at Dumfries and at Edinburgh University (1833-4). He resided at Ormskirk, pursuing scientific studies, until 1848, when he removed with his father to Dumfries. His first paper was read before the Manchester Geological Society in April 1843, on 'The Climate of the Coal Epoch.' His papers on the geology and fossils of southwestern Scotland brought him into repute as a geologist, and in 1853 he was appointed professor of geology in Queen's College, Cork. In 1854 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 1856 of the Royal Society of London. In 1876 he was required to add physical geography, zoology and botany, and mineralogy to his former curriculum, and this serious addition to his labours broke down his health; he had just resigned his chair, and was finishing his work when he died, on 5 Oct. 1878, of heart disease. Many of his papers on physical geology and palæontology are of much value. He clearly showed the existence of both lower and upper Silurian deposits in the south of Scotland, added considerably to the knowledge of the geology of the highlands, explored the remarkable sandstones and breccias of Dumfriesshire, most of which he identified as Permian, and elucidated the Silurian deposits of the Lake district of the north of England. In conjunction with Professor H. A. Nicholson, he did much to unveil the structure of the grapholitic deposits of the Coniston series. He was a sound reasoner, an acute observer, an excellent teacher, and an enthusiast in his work. A list of his scientific papers, over sixty in number, is given in the Royal Society's ' Catalogue of Scientific Papers.'

[Nature, 10 Oct. 1878; Geol. Mag. 1878, p. 576; president's address to Geol. Soc. London, 1879, pp. 41-4.]

G. T. B.