Charlotte Murchison

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Charlotte Murchison
Born Charlotte Hugonin
(1788-04-18)18 April 1788
Nursted House, near Petersfield, Hampshire
Died 9 February 1869(1869-02-09) (aged 80)
Belgravia, London
Fields Geology
Spouse Roderick Murchison

Charlotte Murchison (18 April 1788 – 9 February 1869) was a Scottish amateur geologist. Married to the important nineteenth century geologist Roderick Impey Murchison, she had a strong influence in the career of her husband.

In 1815, Charlotte Hugonin met Roderick Impey Murchison (1792–1871) and married him on 15 August of the same year. She was the daughter of General Francis Hugonin (d. 1836). Her husband followed some rather expensive pursuits and in an attempt to occupy him in more intellectual pursuits, Charlotte travelled throughout Europe with him in 1816–1818.[1] They met Mary Somerville (1780–1872), who was a scientific writer and became a lifelong friend of the couple.[2]

During this time Charlotte became very interested in geology and after much persuasion, her husband also developed an interest in the subject in 1824. By 1825, Charlotte and Roderick were involved in geology field trips in the south coast of England. However it was Charlotte who began to collect fossils and sketch the rocky outcrops of the coastline. This was the first of many field trips with eminent geologists including Mary Anning (1799–1847). Charles Lyell described her as an invaluable assistant. Lyell and the Murchisons travelled in Europe in 1828, with Charlotte engaged in fossil collecting and sketching geological structures and landscapes.[3] She accompanied her husband on his geological fieldwork tours of England and Wales 1831 to 1836, and contributed many drawings and sketches to the resulting seminal work, 'The Silurian System', produced by Roderick in 1839.

In 1838 when her mother died, Charlotte was left a significant fortune. The couple were able to move to a prestigious house at 16 Belgrave Square, London. Their soirees became a meeting place for scientists and politicians as a result of Charlotte's hospitality skills.[citation needed]

Later Mary Anning wrote "Mrs Murchison was an amiable accomplished woman, drew prettily and what was rare at the time she had studied science, especially geology and it was chiefly owing to her example that her husband turned his mind to those pursuits in which he afterwards obtained such distinction".[citation needed]

Charlotte Murchison died on 9 February 1869 at Belgrave Square, London.[4]


  1. ^ "Murchison [née Hugonin], Charlotte". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Kölbl-Ebert, Martina (1997). "Charlotte Murchison (Née Hugonin) 1788-1869" (PDF). Earth Sciences History. History of Earth Sciences Society. 16 (1): 39–43. 
  3. ^ Kölbl-Ebert, Martina (2007). "The geological travels of Charles Lyell, Charlotte Murchison and Roderick Impey Murchison in France and northern Italy (1828)". Geological Society, London, Special Publications. 287 (1): 109–117. doi:10.1144/SP287.9. 
  4. ^ "MURCHISON Dame Charlotte". England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966. Retrieved 30 October 2013.