HOWCHIN, Walter (1845-1937)


HOWCHIN, Walter (1845-1937)
geologist
son of the Rev. Richard Howchin, was born at Norwich, England, on 12 January 1845. He was educated at the academy, King's Lynn, studied for the Methodist ministry, and was ordained towards the end of 1864. His first charge was Shatter Bridge not far from Newcastle-on-Tyne, and for the next 16 years he had other churches in the Tyne valley. He had begun to take an interest in geology at an early age, and found much to develop this interest in the abundant outcrops in this district of the coal-bearing and associated rocks of the Carboniferous age. At Haltwhistle he found much glacial till, the study of which led to the work that afterwards made Howchin famous. His interest in the flint implements of Northumberland was afterwards continued in the stone implements of the Australian aborigines. In 1876, in conjunction with H. B. Brolly, he did some important work on the foraminifera of Carboniferous and Permian times. He became a fellow of the Geological Society of London in 1878, and in 1881 came to Australia for health reasons. For some time he served as a supernumerary minister in South Australia, did some journalistic work, and was secretary to the Adelaide children's hospital from 1886 to 1901. He was lecturer on mineralogy at the Adelaide school of mines from 1899 to 1904, and lecturer on geology and palaeontology at the university of Adelaide from 1902 to 1918, becoming honorary professor in that year. He retired in 1920, retaining his title of honorary professor and continuing his work as a geologist for many years. He published in 1909 The Geography of South Australia, a popular book for the use of schools, which was followed in 1918 by The Geology of South Australia, a volume of well over 500 pages. The Building of Australia and the Succession of Life, with Special Reference to South Australia, was published in three parts (1925-30), and in 1934 appeared The Stone Implements of the Adelaide Tribe of Aborigines. All his life he had been publishing scientific papers, and his activity increased with age. In the last 30 years of his fife his productivity was extraordinary for a man of his years; the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of South Australia for 1933 records more than 100 of his papers. His most important work was his discovery of a series of glacial rocks in the Cambrian series of the Mount Lofty Ranges, which gave rise to much controversy. Howchin, however, succeeded in convincing not only his own colleagues but scientists in other parts of the world. He died at Adelaide on 27 November 1937 having nearly completed his ninety-third year. He married in 1869 Earlier Gibbons, who died in 1924. He was survived by two daughters. He was awarded the Clarke medal of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1907, the Ferdinand von Mueller medal by the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science in 1913, moiety of the Lyell Geological Fund, Geological Society of London in 1914, the Sir Joseph Verco medal of the Royal Society of South Australia in 1929, and the Lyell medal of the Geological Society of London in 1934.
Howchin came to Australia at 36 years of age thinking his life was practically over. The climate did wonders for him, and at 90 years of age he was a picture of vigorous old age. In return he did a large amount of sound and distinguished work, and became one of the outstanding Australian geologists of his time.
C. Fenner, Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of South Australia, 1937; The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, vol. XCIV, p. CXVIII; F. Chapman, The Age, Melbourne, 30 July 1938; The Advertiser, Adelaide, 29 November, 1937.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Howchin — /ˈhaʊtʃən/ (say howchuhn) noun Walter, 1845–1937, Australian geologist, born in England …   Australian English dictionary

  • 1937 in Australia — Infobox Australian year monarch = George VI governor general = Alexander Hore Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie pm =Joseph Lyons population = 6,835,536 australian = elections =Federal, VIC, TAS See also: 1936 in Australia, other events of 1937, 1938 in …   Wikipedia

  • Walter Howchin — (12 January 1845 ndash;1937) was a geologist who lectured in mineralogy and palaeontology at the former Adelaide School of Mines and Adelaide University.Howchin was born in Norwich, England, the son of the Rev. Richard Howchin. He was educated at …   Wikipedia

  • Medaille Clarke — Médaille Clarke La médaille Clarke est attribuée par la Royal Society of New South Wales (Australie) pour récompenser un travail remarquable en sciences naturelles. Elle a été ainsi nommé en hommage du révérend William Branwhite Clarke (1798… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Médaille Clarke — La médaille Clarke est attribuée par la Royal Society of New South Wales (Australie) pour récompenser un travail remarquable en sciences naturelles. Elle a été ainsi nommée en hommage du révérend William Branwhite Clarke (1798 1878), l un des… …   Wikipédia en Français


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