WILKINSON, Charles Smith (1843-1891)


WILKINSON, Charles Smith (1843-1891)
geologist
was born at Pottersbury, Northamptonshire, England, on 22 August 1843. He was the fourth son of David Wilkinson, C.E., who was associated with Stephenson in the production of early locomotives. The family settled in Melbourne in 1852, and the boy was educated at a private school conducted by the Rev. T. P. Fenner. At 16 he was given a position in the geological survey office and in 1861 he became a field assistant to Richard Daintree (q.v.) with whom he was associated in the survey of part of southern Victoria. In 1863 he was sent to explore the Cape Otway country and in 1866 succeeded Daintree when the latter left for Queensland. Two years later Wilkinson's health broke down, he resigned from the survey, and spent the next four years at Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. He passed the examination for licensed surveyor in 1872, and was sent by the surveyor-general of New South Wales to the new tin-mining district in New England, New South Wales, on which he reported, and in 1874 he was appointed geological surveyor. In 1875 he was transferred to the mines department with the title of geological surveyor in charge. The systematical geological survey of New South Wales was begun under his direction, and much valuable work was done. In 1876 he was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of London and in 1881 a fellow of the Linnean Society. In 1883 and 1884 he was president of the Linnean Society of New South Wales and in 1887 president of the Royal Society of New South Wales. He died after a short illness on 26 August 1891. He was survived by his wife and two children. His Notes on the Geology of New South Wales was published by the mines department in 1882, and about 80 of his reports and papers are listed in the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales for 1892, p. 9.
Wilkinson gained the respect and affection of all who knew him. He was an excellent man of science who did good work in connexion with the mining industry, and was the first to suggest to the government the possibility of finding subterranean water in western New South Wales. The first bore was put down under his direction. The fine collection of minerals in the Sydney geological survey museum was founded and largely brought together by him.
H. C. Russell, Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, 1892, p. 6; The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 August 1891; J. H. Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; The Geological Magazine, 1891, pp. 571-3.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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