by Roger F.Vaughan B.A., B.Sc.
Professor James Buckman FLS, FGS. (1818-1884). Buckman was a pharmaceutical chemist, college professor, museum curator, botanist, geologist, archaeologist, author, and farmer. Together with his son S.S.Buckman they made a team that contributed to geology in the Cotswold area over a time span of nearly 100 years.
Buckman lived in Cheltenham, Birmingham and Cirencester before retiring to farm in Dorset. He was a trained pharmaceutical chemist who practised in Cheltenham, before moving to Birmingham, where he was appointed Secretary of the Birmingham Philosophical Society and became Curator of their museum(1842-47). In 1848 he moved to Cirencester to take up the position of Professor of Geology and Botany at the Royal Agricultural College, and he founded and became Curator of the Cirencester Museum.
Looking through the Club's "Minute Book" for a typical day out we find that on June 13th 1848 Buckman was with the Club when they met at the Spread Eagle in Gloucester, in bad weather, but they decided to set off anyway for Churchdown Hill "with the proverbial good fortune of the brave, and better weather than could have been expected, rewarded the steadiness of the loyal friends of science, and with the exception of an occasional shower, from which a friendly tree or a church porch afforded sufficient protection" they went continued their walk across the meadows to Churchdown Hill. On the way Buckman pointed out the different sorts of soil they crossed by the different species of graminaceae. At the top of the hill "Buckman was kind enough to throw the light of science over the wide and splendid panorama spread before us". He discussed the idea that the valley owed its fertility to having been at one time either an estuary or strait of the sea into which torrents from the neighbouring highlands had borne quantities of sand and gravel, which were spread over the surface of the stiff and obdurate Lias clay.
Among the group that day were Baker, Phelps, Jones, Wilton, White, Bayly, Knollys, Wright, Tancred and Buckman. The visitors were Etheridge, Williams and Clements. They walked back through Brockworth examining an ancient house at that time still in the possession of a Sir John Guise where Charles 1st was entertained by a Lady Guise during the siege of Gloucester.
In 1865, in partnership with Hugh Strickland, he published a much enlarged and improved edition of Murchison's "Geology of the Neighbourhood of Cheltenham". This was the first work to seriously attempt to explain the geology of the Cotswolds and Severn Valley. At this time Buckman was Professor of Geology and Botany at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, and Secretary of the Cheltenham Literary and Philosophical Institution. He obviously had wide interests, they included Roman and the Ancient British world, as well as agriculture. He published a "Geological Chart to the Oolitic Strata of the Cotswold Hills" and a Botanical Guide to the area. He amassed a large collection of Great Oolite fossils from Gloucestershire but most were destroyed during the occupation of the premises by the War Office during 1914-18. He died on the 24th November 1885. His portrait was painted by Kate the daughter of Edwin Witchell and can be found in S.S.Buckmans "Type Ammonites". His remaining collections are in the Natural History Museum, London; B.G.S. Keyworth; Manchester Museum; and the Castle Museum, Nottingham.
Updated and corrected 20.6.1999
Return to Cotteswold Geologists
Go to the homepage of Roger's World