Part Two: Setting the stage for a scientific community pg.2

 

Part Two: Setting the stage for a scientific community (continued)

 

The minutes from the third Annual meeting in 1833 record the appointment for the current year of the librarians and curators, while noting the specialised scientific groups as various as botany, zoology and mineralogy. Professionals in particular fields led groups in their own areas of expertise most notably the geologist William Edmond Logan (1798-1875) and the conchologist John Gwyn Jeffreys (1809-1885). Such support is evidence of the enthusiasm and desire of individuals in Swansea to further scientific advancement and knowledge, although it must be noted that an earlier scientific society of the town, The Cambrian Society, only existed for two years. Established in 1821 it was probably a lack of support that ceased its operation, although it was confident enough to invite Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday as honorary members. John Henry Vivian a Vice-President of the society was also the M.P. for the Borough and during his term of office he used his influence to request a Royal title for the society. The request backed by Lord John Russell was successful and in 1838 Queen Victoria granting the members the title of ‘The Royal Institution of South Wales.’ This distinguished title was in keeping with the new residence of the institution built in the Palladian style in 1838-9, and which housed a library, museum and lecture hall. There was also a laboratory which was an essential resource for its members as science was considered the primary feature of the Institution, in fact even in the organisation’s early years at Castle Square there had been laboratory facilities organised by R, V, Byers. The laboratory in the new Institute building was a planned resource which is evident from a letter to the surveyor, R, Phillips Esq. from George Grant Francis;

My dear Sir, I have the pleasure of sending you Mr. Longs scale drawing of the laboratory and will be obliged by your earliest attention to it.

Swansea’s new scientific society had an important and influential core of founding members that included local industrialists, scientists and gentry. These men were connected socially and some like William Grove (1811-1896), John Gwyn Jeffreys and Moggridge (d.1882) a noted archaeologist lived close to each other and within the vicinity of the Vivian’s Singleton Estate and Dillwyn’s residence at Sketty Hall. Henry De la Beche’s Swansea residence was also nearby and his relationship with the Dillwyn family became even more closely connected as his daughter Bessie married Lewis Weston Dillwyn’s son, Lewis Llewelyn. Initially connected by an interest in geology and their membership of the Geological Society of London, De la Beche would become an active participant of the Swansea scientific community that centred around Lewis Weston Dillwyn and the RISW. The extent of their relationship is illustrated by the numerous references by Dillwyn in his journals to meetings and dinner dates with De la Beche. Yet another personal relationship that connected the Dillwyn’s with another branch of science was the marriage of Fanny, the eldest sister of John Dillwyn Llewellyn to Moggridge.

 

Next Page, Setting the stage for a scientific community, pg. 3