David T. Ansted

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David Thomas Ansted, 1850

David Thomas Ansted (5 February 1814 – 13 May 1880) was an English geologist and author.[1]

Youth, education[edit]

Ansted was born in London on 5 February 1814. He was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, and after taking his degree of MA in 1839 was elected to a fellowship of the college.[2][3]

Inspired by the teachings of Adam Sedgwick, his attention was given to geology,[2] and he was a respected geologist by age 30. [1] In 1840, he was elected professor of geology in King's College London, a post which he held until 1853. From 1845, he was also a lecturer at the East India Company's Military Seminary at Addiscombe, and professor of geology at the College for Civil Engineers at Putney.[2]

He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1844, and from that date until 1847 he was vice-secretary of the Geological Society. The practical side of geology now came to occupy his attention and he visited various parts of Europe as a consulting geologist and mining engineer.[2]

In 1870 he was awarded a Telford Medal by the Institution of Civil Engineers for his paper 'On the Lagoons and Marshes of certain parts of the Shores of the Mediterranean'[4]

Books, surveying coal fields in the eastern US[edit]

David T. Ansted

Dr Ansted's Gold-Seekers Manual (1849) attempted to improve the prospects of emigrants to the California gold rush. His other published works include Geology, introductory, descriptive, & practical (1844), The Geologist's Text-Book (1845), Syllabus of lectures on mineralogy, geology, and practical geology ... (1848), An elementary course of geology, mineralogy, and physical geography (1850), The Great Stone Book of Nature (1853), The applications of geology to the arts and manufactures... (1865). He was the co-author with Robert Gordon Latham of The Channel Islands (1862).[5][6]

By 1853, Ansted's reputation was sufficient that he was hired by potential investors to survey promising coal fields along the New River in southern Virginia in the United States, and he was one of the earlier geologists to identify the rich bituminous coal seams which lay there. His work set the stage for a mining boom in the area, where he invested in land along the Midland Trail in Fayette County in what became the new state of West Virginia in 1863 during the American Civil War (1861–65).

A protégé of Dr. Ansted, William Nelson Page (1854–1932), became a leading industrialist and developer of iron furnaces, coal mines and railroads in the area, leading and managing such enterprises as the Victoria Furnace in Goshen, Virginia and the Gauley Mountain Coal Company for absentee investors, many of whom were based overseas in the United Kingdom.

Charles Darwin[edit]

Dr. Ansted exchanged correspondence with Charles Darwin about 1860. In 1868, Dr Ansted became an Examiner in Physical Geography to the Science and Art Department of King's College.

Ansted died at Melton near Woodbridge in Suffolk, England on 13 May 1880;[2] he is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.


The town of Ansted in Fayette County was named in his honor in 1873.

See also[edit]


  1. ^  Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1885). "Ansted, David Thomas". Dictionary of National Biography. 2. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 37. 
  2. ^ a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ansted, David Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 84. 
  3. ^ "Ansted, David Thomas (ANST832DT)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ minutes of proceedings of the institution of civil engineers. p. 210. 
  5. ^ "Review of The Channel Islands by D. T. Ansted and R. G. Latham". The Popular Science Review. 2: 381–385. 1862. 
  6. ^ Ansted, D. T.; Latham, R. G. (1865). The Channel Islands (2nd ed.). London: W. H. Allen; with illustrations by Paul J. Naftel