Skip to main content

Prestwich, Sir Joseph, 1812-1896 (Knight, geologist)



  • Existence: 1812 - 1896


Sir Joseph Prestwich (1812-96), knight and geologist, was born on 12 March 1812 at Pensbury, Clapham. He went to a school in South Norwood, and then to Richard Valpy's school in Reading, from where he went up to University College, London, in 1828, to study chemistry and natural philosophy. In 1830, at the age of eighteen, he joined the family wine business in Mark Lane in the City of London. In 1840 Prestwich began the systematic study of the Lower Tertiary strata, on which his reputation as a geologist chiefly rests. He published A Geological Inquiry Respecting the Water-Bearing Strata of the Country around London in 1851, and served on a royal commission on water supply in 1864. In 1858 Prestwich became a member of the committee set up by the Geological Society to oversee the excavation of Brixham cave in south Devon, an untouched site which it was hoped might reveal new information on Pleistocene stratigraphy and on the antiquity of the human race. In 1874 Prestwich was offered the chair of geology at Oxford and held the chair until 1888, working in the museum, leading field excursions, and giving regular courses of lectures. Sir Joseph Prestwich died at Darent Hulme on 23 June 1896.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


Sir Joseph Prestwich: Letter to T. McKenny Hughes, 1882

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.4251/1130
Scope and Contents From the Fonds:

Artificial collection of single item or small collection accessions. Mainly correspondence but includes other papers.

Dates: 1882
Conditions Governing Access: From the Fonds: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (