FITTON, William Henry. 14992



Autograph Letter Signed, to Lady Elphinstone, about reclaiming a packet of papers belonging to Fitton’s sisters. 4 pp. 6 x 4 inches, in good condition. 8 Croft, 22 June 1849. William Henry Fitton (1780 – 1861), Irish physician and geologist. His Observations on some of the Strata between the Chalk and the Oxford Oolite, in the South-east of England (Trans. Geol. Soc. ser. 2, vol. iv.) embodied a series of researches extending from 1824 to 1836, and form the memoir known as Fitton’s Strata below the Chalk. In this work he established the true succession and relations of the Upper and Lower Greensand, and of the Wealden and Purbeck formations, and elaborated their detailed structure. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society in 1815, and he became president of the Geological Society of London in 1827–1829. His house then became a meeting place for scientific workers, and during his presidency he held a conversazione open on Sunday evenings to all fellows of the Geological Society. From 1817 to 1841 he contributed to the Edinburgh Review many essays on the progress of geological science, and reviews of the groundbreaking books of William Smith (geologist), Charles Lyell, and Roderick Murchison. Around 1825, according to Charles Babbage’s autobiography, he invented the thaumatrope, which was later commercially publicised by Dr. John Ayrton Paris (to whom the invention is more usually attributed).