Dr. John MacCulloch (1773-1835)

[Badge: British Army] Badge: British Army; Click to enlarge [jpeg:50K]

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Surgeon, geologist, surveyor

John McCulloch was born 6 October 1773 and showed an early love for things scientifical. As his family were then living in Cornwall, he was educated, first at Plympton, then at Penzance, and, finally, at Lostwithiel Grammar Scools. In 1790 he went to Edinburgh to prosecute his medical studies and obtained his diploma as a physician at the age of 18. He subsequently entered the Royal Artillery as an assistant surgeon rising to Surgeon, and in 1803, accepted a situation as Chemist to the Board of Ordnance.

In 1807 he was residing at Blackheath where he practised as a physician. It is said his knowledge of medicine, geology, minerology, chemistry and trigonometry were second to none and perhaps never exceeded by any other individual of his time. He was, moreover, skilled in architecture, drawing and music.

In 1811, McCulloch was engaged by the government of Scotland to make a grand survey of the country. He consequently gave up his medical practise and directed his energies into the line of work for which he is most famous. His surveys included examining the principal mountains, making geological observations, and collecting materials for a mineralogical map of Scotland. In 1814, McCulloch was permanently appointed geologist to the Trigonometrical Survey.

In recognition of his groundbreaking work he was made president of the Royal Geographical Society and in 1820 was elected a Fellow of the prestigious Royal Society. In 1826, he embarked on an ambitious and extensive geological and mineralogical survey of Scotland which was conducted every summer from 1826 to 1832. During the winters of these years he put in order the observations he had made in the summer, drew sections and prepared maps. This monumental work, the labour of one individual, has never been surpassed by any undertaking of a similar nature.

For some years after his geological triumph in Scotland, he acted as the Principal Lecturer on chemistry and geology at the East India Company's training establishment at Addiscombe. He married late in life (1835) one Miss White, but did not last the year, being thrown from a carriage and being severely injured. His right leg had to be amputated and he only survived the operation a few hours. He was buried at Gulval, near Penzance, Cornwall, where his father had resided some years before. Thus ended the life of one of the most brilliant McCullochs to bear the name.

Dr. John McCulloch [10K JPEG; Click to View]

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