Cumming, Joseph George (DNB00)

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CUMMING, JOSEPH GEORGE (1812–1868), geologist and divine, was born on 15 Feb. 1812 at Matlock, Derbyshire. He was educated at Oakham grammar school, where he was remarkable for his grave earnestness, scarcely ever indulging in games. He was, however, fond of wrestling, and was a great walker, especially visiting Derbyshire and collecting fossil remains. He gained exhibitions at Oakham and proceeded to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was senior optime in 1834. He was ordained in 1835 to the curacy of his uncle, James Cumming [q. v.], professor of chemistry at Cambridge, and rector of North Runcton, Norfolk. In 1838 he was appointed classical master of the West Riding proprietary school, and in 1841 he became vice-principal of King William's College in the Isle of Man. Cumming remained in the Isle of Man for fifteen years, and studied the geology and antiquarian remains of the district with great care. In 1848 he published ‘The Isle of Man: its History, Physical, Ecclesiastical, Civil, and Legendary.’ In this volume he has dealt largely with the mythical tales, succinctly recording the history of the island, and carefully examining all the interesting geological phenomena. The lithological character of the island and the disturbances which have produced the subsidence of some geological formations, and the emergence of others, are carefully and accurately described.

Cumming was appointed in 1856 to the mastership of King Edward's grammar school, Lichfield. In 1858 he became warden and professor of classical literature and geology in Queen's College, Birmingham. In 1862 he was presented by the lord chancellor to the rectory of Mellis, Suffolk, which he exchanged in 1867 for the vicarage of St. John's, Bethnal Green.

Cumming married in 1838 Agnes, daughter of Mr. Peckham, by whom he had a family of four sons and two daughters, who survived him. He became a fellow of the Geological Society of London in 1846, and he published some papers in the journal of that society. He died quite suddenly on 21 Sept. 1868.

[Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 1849; Cambridge Calendar; Walford's Men of the Time, 1862; New Philosophical Magazine, 1869; Journal of the Archæological Institute.]

R. H-t.