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I now go on to my principal subject. Williamson's father, John Williamson, originally a gardener, was well known for his researches on the Natural History of the Yorkshire coast, and was for 27 years curator of the Scarborough Museum. Previously to that, John Williamson kept a private museum of his own, and it was in the room next to this that William Crawford Williamson was born on November 24, 1816. John Williamson's cousin, William Bean, was also an active local naturalist, known especially for his work on the Yorkshire Fossil Flora; the genus Beania is named after him.
Our Williamson's mother, born Elizabeth Crawford, was the eldest of 13 children of a Scarborough jeweller and lapidary. Young Williamson used to spend much time in the Crawford's workshop, watching them cutting and working with the diamond—the agates from the gravels of the coast. "A youthful training," he says, "which became of the utmost value to me more than a third of a century later, when scientific research required me to devote much of my own time to similar work."
In 1826 the famous William Smith and his wife established themselves in the Williamson's house, and stayed there for two years. Williamson's early recollections of the "Father of English Geology" must have been inspiring. His father was also a friend and correspondent of Sir Roderick Murchison.
The appearance of Phillips' classic volume, Illustrations of the Geology of Yorkshire, in 1829, gave young Williamson his first introduction to true scientific work. His father at once set to work to name from this book the fossils he collected, and his son was called in to help. "My evenings throughout a long winter were devoted to the detested labour of naming these miserable stones." "Pursuing this uncongenial task gave me in my 13th year a thorough practical familiarity with the palaeontological treasures of Eastern Yorkshire. This early acquisition happily moulded the entire course of my future life."
Those were not the days of the half-educated. Young Williamson, in addition to his special scientific training, had the advantage of a classical education, at schools both in