Pentland, Joseph Barclay (DNB00)

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PENTLAND, JOSEPH BARCLAY (1797–1873), traveller, born in Ireland in 1797, was educated at Armagh and at Paris university, where his knowledge of comparative anatomy gained him the friendship of Cuvier. He became secretary to the consulate-general in Peru in 1827, and was consul-general in Bolivia from 1 Aug. 1836 until 1839. In 1826 and 1827, in company with Woodbine (afterwards Sir Woodbine) Parish [q. v.], he surveyed a large portion of the Bolivian Andes which had rarely been visited by Europeans. He took extensive observations on the snow-lines and on the heights of the mountains, the majority of which are either extinct volcanos or volcanos of exhausted activity. Gualtieri was found to be 22,000 feet high, Arequipa 18,300 feet, Chirquibamba 21,000 feet, Illimani 21,300 feet, and Sorata 24,800 feet. He was the first to measure these mountains, and succeeding explorers have been of opinion that he somewhat exaggerated their altitudes. The mean elevation of the perpetual snow-line was 16,990 feet, and the elevation of the whole range is so great that the mean height of the practicable passes through them exceeds 14,650 feet. During his journey he found fossils of Silurian age at a height of 17,000 feet, and of carboniferous limestone at 14,000 feet above the sea. Pentland also visited the mountain lake of Titicaca. He saw that its outlet was the river Desaguadero, whereas all maps up to that period had represented the river as running into the lake. In 1838 he made a tour in the southern province of ancient Peru, visiting Cusco, the capital, and the many interesting localities around that city (Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, 1835 v. 70–89, with two maps, 1838 viii. 427, and Proceedings, 9 March 1874, pp. 215–16; Humboldt, Kosmos, Sabine's edit. 1846–58, i. 362, vol. iv. pt. i. p. lxxxv).

From 1845 he made Rome his winter residence. He was so well acquainted with the topography and antiquities of the city that he was selected to act as guide to the Prince of Wales on the two occasions of his visiting Rome. He edited for John Murray ‘A Handbook of Rome and its Environs. Ninth edition, carefully revised on the spot,’ 1860; also the tenth and eleventh editions of 1871 and 1872; ‘A Handbook for Travellers in Southern Italy,’ sixth edition, 1868, and ‘A Handbook for Travellers in Northern Italy,’ eleventh edition, 1869. He aided James Fergusson (1808–1886) [q. v.] in his ‘Sketches of the Antiquities of Cusco,’ and Mrs. Somerville with information on the geology of South America for her ‘Physical Geography,’ 1848. He died at 3 Motcomb Street, London, on 12 July 1873, and was buried in Brompton cemetery.

[Foreign Office List, July 1873, p. 154, January 1874, p. 203; Athenæum, 6 Sept. 1873, p. 309.]

G. C. B.