1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Galton, Sir Francis

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5098531911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 11 — Galton, Sir Francis

GALTON, SIR FRANCIS (1822–), English anthropologist, son of S. T. Galton, of Duddeston, Warwickshire, was born on the 16th of February 1822. His grandfather was the poet-naturalist Erasmus Darwin, and Charles Darwin was his cousin. After attending King Edward VI.’s grammar school, Birmingham, he studied at Birmingham hospital, and afterwards at King’s College, London, with the intention of making medicine his profession; but after taking his degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1843 he changed his mind. The years 1845–1846 he spent in travelling in the Sudan, and in 1850 he made an exploration, with Dr John Anderson, of Damaraland and the Ovampo country in south-west Africa, starting from Walfisch Bay. These tracts had practically never been traversed before, and on the appearance of the published account of his journey and experiences under the title of Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa (1853) Galton was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society. His Art of Travel; or, Shifts and Contrivances in Wild Countries was first published in 1855. In 1860 he visited the north of Spain, and published the fruits of his observations of the country and the people in the first of a series of volumes, which he edited, entitled Vacation Tourists. He then turned to meteorology, the result of his investigations appearing in Meteorographica, published in 1863. This work was the first serious attempt to chart the weather on an extensive scale, and in it also the author first established the existence and theory of anticyclones. Galton was a member of the meteorological committee (1868), and of the Meteorological Council which succeeded it, for over thirty years. But his name is most closely associated with studies in anthropology and especially in heredity. In 1869 appeared his Hereditary Genius, its Laws and Consequences, a work which excited much interest in scientific and medical circles. This was followed by English Men of Science, their Nature and Nurture, published in 1874; Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development, issued in 1883; Life-History Album (1884); Record of Family Faculties (1884) (tabular forms and directions for entering data, with a preface); and Natural Inheritance (1889). The idea that systematic efforts should be made to improve the breed of mankind by checking the birth-rate of the unfit and furthering the productivity of the fit was first put forward by him in 1865; he mooted it again in 1884, using the term “eugenics” for the first time in Human Faculty, and in 1904 he endowed a research fellowship in the university of London for the promotion of knowledge of that subject, which was defined as “the study of agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations, either physically or mentally.” Galton was the author of memoirs on various anthropometric subjects; he originated the process of composite portraiture, and paid much attention to finger-prints and their employment for the identification of criminals, his publications on this subject including Finger Prints (1892), Decipherment of Blurred Finger Prints (1893) and Finger Print Directories (1895). From the Royal Society, of which he was elected a fellow in 1860, he received a royal medal in 1886 and the Darwin medal in 1902, and honorary degrees were bestowed on him by Oxford (1894) and Cambridge (1895). In 1908 he published Memories of My Life, and in 1909 he received a knighthood.