DUNN, Edward John (1844-1937)


DUNN, Edward John (1844-1937)
geologist
was born at Bristol, England, on 1 November 1844 the son of Edward Herbert Dunn. He arrived in Sydney with his parents in 1849. In 1856 he was living at Beechworth, where he was educated at the Church of England school and later by a tutor. He entered the land survey office in that town, had experience in surveying, in 1864 joined the geological survey under Selwyn (q.v.) and was trained in geological work by G. H. F. Ulrich. He remained with the survey until it was abolished in 1869 and in the same year qualified as a mining surveyor. In 1871 he went to Cape Colony and was employed by the government reporting on mines. He prepared the first geological map of South Africa, and in 1872 travelled through Bushmanland accompanied by 15 troopers of the Northern Border police. He was able to gather much information about the Bushmen which he embodied in his work on The Bushman, which, however, was not published until nearly 60 years later. In 1873 he went to London, studied at the school of mines, Jermyn-street, and obtained his certificate for assaying. In 1883 he prophesied that the Transvaal would become an infinitely richer gold-bearing country than any yet discovered. He returned to Victoria in 1886 and went into private practice. As a result of one of his reports the coalfield at Korumburra, Victoria, was developed. He was appointed director of the geological survey of Victoria in 1904, and in 1905 was awarded the Murchison medal by the Geological Society of London. He applied the portion of the fund allotted to him with the medal towards the cost of publishing his monograph on Pebbles which appeared in 1911. He retired from the Victorian geological survey in 1912, but kept up his interest in his subject through a vigorous old age. He published a comprehensive work on the Geology of Gold in 1929, being then in his 85th year and his book on The Bushman, based on his own experiences in South Africa, came out two years later. He died on 20 April 1937. He married in 1875 Elizabeth Julie Perchard who survived him with a son and two daughters. A list of his publications will be found in In Memory of Edward John Dunn, Melbourne, 1937.
Dunn was an excellent field geologist and administrator who did valuable work over a long period, and particularly in connexion with the coal and gold mines of South Africa and Australia. His collection of Bushmen objects was given to the Pitt Rivers museum at Oxford, his australites and pebbles went to the British Museum, and his collection of Victorian stones to the mines department museum, Melbourne.
In Memory of Edward John Dunn; Industrial Australian and Mining Standard, 1 May 1937; The Argus, 21 April 1937; Preface to The Bushman; The Victorian Naturalist, June 1937.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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