1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Godwin-Austen, Robert Alfred Cloyne

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1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 12
Godwin-Austen, Robert Alfred Cloyne

GODWIN-AUSTEN, ROBERT ALFRED CLOYNE (1808–1884), English geologist, the eldest son of Sir Henry E. Austen, was born on the 17th of March 1808. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, of which he became a fellow in 1830. He afterwards entered Lincoln’s Inn. In 1833 he married the only daughter and heiress of General Sir Henry T. Godwin, K.C.B., and he took the additional name of Godwin by Royal licence in 1854. At Oxford as a pupil of William Buckland he became deeply interested in geology, and soon afterwards becoming acquainted with De la Beche, he was inspired by that great master, and assisted him by making a geological map of the neighbourhood of Newton Abbot, which was embodied in the Geological Survey map. He also published an elaborate memoir “On the Geology of the South-East of Devonshire” (Trans. Geol. Soc. ser. 2, vol. viii.). His attention was next directed to the Cretaceous rocks of Surrey, his home-county, his estates being situated at Chilworth and Shalford near Guildford. Later he dealt with the superficial accumulations bordering the English Channel, and with the erratic boulders of Selsea. In 1855 he brought before the Geological Society of London his celebrated paper “On the possible Extension of the Coal-Measures beneath the South-Eastern part of England,” in which he pointed out on well-considered theoretical grounds the likelihood of coal-measures being some day reached in that area. In this article he also advocated the freshwater origin of the Old Red Sandstone, and discussed the relations of that formation, and of the Devonian, to the Silurian and Carboniferous. He was elected F.R.S. in 1849, and in 1862 he was awarded the Wollaston medal by the Geological Society of London, on which occasion he was styled by Sir R. I. Murchison “pre-eminently the physical geographer of bygone periods.” He died at Shalford House near Guildford on the 25th of November 1884.

His son, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Haversham Godwin-Austen (b. 1834), entered the army in 1851, and served for many years on the Trigonometrical Survey of India, retiring in 1877. He gave much attention to geology, but is more especially distinguished for his researches on the natural history of India and as the author of The Land and Freshwater Mollusca of India (1882–1887).