30 December 1850|
31 July 1913 (aged 62)|
Shide, Isle of Wight, England
|Occupation||scientist, educator, foreign advisor to Japan|
|Known for||Foreign advisor to Meiji Japan|
Lyell Medal (1894)|
Royal Medal (1908)
Milne was born in Liverpool, England, the only child of John Milne of Milnrow, and at first raised in Rochdale and later moved to Richmond near London. He was educated at King's College London (AKC in Applied Science, 1870) and the Royal School of Mines.
In the summers of 1873 and 1874, following a recommendation by the Royal School of Mines, Milne was hired by Cyrus Field as a mining engineer to explore Newfoundland and Labrador in search of coal and mineral resources. During this time he also wrote papers on the interaction of ice and rock, and visited Funk Island, writing another paper on the newly extinct great auk. In December, 1873 Milne accompanied Dr. Charles Tilstone Beke on an expedition to determine the true location of Mount Sinai in northwest Arabia. He took the opportunity to study the geology of the Sinai Peninsula and passed on a collection of fossils to the British Museum.
Career in Japan (1875–1895)
Milne was hired by the Meiji government of the Empire of Japan as a foreign advisor and professor of mining and geology at the Imperial College of Engineering in Tokyo from 8 March 1876, where he worked under Henry Dyer and with William Edward Ayrton and John Perry. Partly from a sense of adventure and partly because he suffered from seasickness, he travelled overland across Siberia taking three months to reach Tokyo. In 1880, Sir James Alfred Ewing, Thomas Gray and John Milne, all British scientists working in Japan, began to study earthquakes following a very large tremor which struck the Yokohama area that year. They founded the Seismological Society of Japan (SSJ). The society funded the invention of seismographs to detect and measure the strength of earthquakes. Although all three men worked as a team on the invention and use of seismographs, John Milne is generally credited with the invention of the horizontal pendulum seismograph in 1880. Milne's instruments permitted him to detect different types of earthquake waves, and estimate velocities. In addition, the foreign professors trained Japanese students including Seikei Sekiya who would become, at the Imperial University, the first professor of seismology at any university in the world and his successor, Fusakichi Omori who refined Milne's instruments to detect and record finer vibrations.
Order of the Rising Sun
In June, 1895, Milne was commanded to attend a meeting with His Imperial Majesty Emperor Mutsuhito and following this, returned to England. Soon after his arrival he learned that the Emperor had conferred upon him a rare distinction, The Third Grade of the Order of the Rising Sun and a life pension of 1,000 yen. This was in recognition of Professor Milne's contributions to seismology during his long residence in Japan.  
Contributions to anthropology
From 1882, Milne contributed also to anthropology. He helped to develop theories on the origin of the Ainu of northern Japan and on the prehistoric racial background of Japan in general. He excavated for several years in the Omori shell mound and introduced the concept of the Koropok-guru race, linked with the Inuit. Koropok-guru is from an Ainu word meaning "the man under the rhubarb," i.e. a small person. An Ainu legend concerning their existence seems first to have been reported by Milne. But he believed their prehistoric sites to be only in Hokkaidō. For northeastern Japan proper, he supported the tradition which ascribed prehistoric sites to the Ainu, who lived in pits and made stone implements and pottery. He considered the inhabitants of the Kurile Islands, Sakhalin and southern Kamchatka to be of a different race, but possibly related to the Koropok-guru. He anticipated the work of scientists who recognised, in excavated materials, different prehistoric cultures for Hokkaidō and northeastern Japan. His first cousin William Scoresby Routledge (related through his mother, Emma Twycross) was also an anthropologist. With his wife Katherine, Routledge worked in the early twentieth century in East Africa with the Kikuyu and on Easter Island (Rapa Nui).
Career in England (1895–1913)
After a fire on 17 February 1895 destroyed his home, observatory, library, and many of his instruments. Milne resigned his posts on 20 June 1895 and returned to England with his Japanese wife, settling at Shide Hill House, Shide, on the Isle of Wight, where he continued his seismographic studies. He was made a professor emeritus of Tokyo Imperial University.
He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1887 and persuaded the Society to fund 20 earthquake observatories around the world, equipped with his horizontal pendulum seismographs. His network initially included seven in England, three in Russia, two in Canada (one in Toronto and one in Victoria British Columbia), three on the east coast of the United States, and one in Antarctica, eventually growing to total 40 worldwide. These stations sent their 'station registers' to Milne, where the data formed the basis of Milne's researches. For the next 20 years, Milne’s seismological observatory was the world headquarters for earthquake seismology. In 1898, Milne (with W. K. Burton) published Earthquakes and Other Earth Movements, which came to be regarded as a classic textbook on earthquakes.
The need for international exchange of readings was soon recognized by Milne in his annual "Shide Circular Reports on Earthquakes" published from 1900 to 1912. This work was destined to develop in the International Seismological Summary being set up immediately after the First World War.
To mark the one hundredth anniversary of Milne's death, a public artwork has been commissioned for Little London near the harbour at Newport. The local Parish Council is providing a detailed explanatory board at Shide.
- Who's Who 1914, p. xxiii
- John Milne (1893). The Miner's Handbook: A Handy Book of Reference on the Subjects of Mineral Deposits, Mining Operations, Ore Dressing, Etc. For the Use of Students and Others Interested in Mining Matters. C. Lockwood and Son. p. 95.
- McKeegan, Alice (27 October 2007). "Famous scientists on road to name wrangle". rochdaleobserver.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-04-22.
- John Milne: Considerations on the Flotation of Icebergs-Geological Magazine (Decade II) (1877), 4: 65–71 Cambridge University Press 
- Relics of the Great Auk on Funk Island, by John Milne. The Field, 27 March, 3, 10 April 1875.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Inventor, John Milne
- Gregory Clancey. Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868–1930 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006).
- Otani, Shunsuke (2006). "A Japanese View of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Disaster". Earthquake Spectra, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. 22: S183–S205.
- L.K. Herbert-Gustar and P.A. Nott , biography of Milne John Milne, Father of Modern Seismology in 1980 pp 120 ISBN 0-904404-34-X
- Paul Kabrna "John Milne – the Man who Mapped the Shaking Earth" ISBN 978-0-9555289-0-3 Published by Craven & Pendle Geological Society in March 2007.pp68
- "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 2012-03-05.[permanent dead link]
- Clancy, Gregory. (2006). Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity, 1868–1930. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 9780520246072; OCLC 219039402
- Herbert-Gustar, A. Leslie and Patrick A. Nott. (1980). John Milne, Father of Modern Seismology. Tenterden: Paul Norbury. ISBN 9780904404340; OCLC 476242679 Japanese edition 1981
- Paul Kabrna (2007). John Milne: The Man who Mapped the Shaking Earth. Craven & Pendle Geological Society. ISBN 978-0-9555289-0-3.
- Nishioka, Hideo; Schenck, W. Egbert (1937), "An Outline of Theories concerning the Prehistoric People of Japan", American Anthropologist, 39: 23, doi:10.1525/aa.1937.39.1.02a00030
- Robert Stonely. The History of the International Seismological Summary, Geophysical Journal Research (1970), 20, 343–349
- British Geological Survey:Scotland: A Catalogue of Archive Materials associated with John Milne.
- John Milne (1893). The Miner's Handbook: A Handy Book of Reference on the Subjects of Mineral Deposits, Mining Operations, Ore Dressing, Etc. For the Use of Students and Others Interested in Mining Matters. C. Lockwood and Son.
- John Milne (1886). Earthquakes and Other Earth Movements. New York: D. Appleton And Company.
- John Milne (1898). Seismology. K. Paul, Trench, Trübner & Company, Limited.
- Milne, John (2009), "VI.—Considerations on the Flotation of Icebergs", Geological Magazine, 4 (2): 65, Bibcode:1877GeoM....4...65M, doi:10.1017/S0016756800148617
- Milne, J (1877), "On the Action of Coast-Ice on an Oscillating Area", Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, 33 (1–4): 929–931, doi:10.1144/GSL.JGS.1877.033.01-04.53
- John Milne: Ice and Ice-work in Newfoundland :Geological Magazine, July, August, September, 1876.
- Seismological Journal of Japan, Volume 11, By John Milne, Nihon Jishin Gakkai (Japan). Earthquake Effects, Emotional and Moral. 1887.
- Burton, W.K.; Ogawa, K; Milne, John (1894). Great Earthquake In Japan 1891. Yokohama, Japan: Lane, Crawford & Co. OCLC 3617644., with 30 Plates
- John Milne: The Prehistoric Remains of Japan, Notes on Stone Implements from Otaru and Hakodate, 1879
- Milne, John (1881), "The Stone Age in Japan; with Notes on Recent Geological Changes which Have Taken Place", The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 10: 389, doi:10.2307/2841541, JSTOR 2841541
- Yamashita, Shinji; Bosco, Joseph; Seymour Eades, Jeremy (2004). The Making of Anthropology in East and Southeast Asia. Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1-57181-258-2.
- Seismological Journal of Japan, Jishin Gakkai. Articles by John Milne. Volumes 5, 8,12 (5 articles), 13,15,16 (2 articles), 17 (5 articles). Book digitized by Google and uploaded to the Internet Archive ()
- John Milne (1878). III.—Across Europe and Asia.—Travelling Notes. Geological Magazine (Decade II), 5, pp 29–37 doi:10.1017/S0016756800146254
- Hudson, Mark: Cave art by the Epi-Jomon people – Heritage of Japan
- John Milne The Waterway to London, as explored in the "Wanderer" and "Ranger" with sail, paddle and oar.1869 The British Library
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
- John Milne, Father of Modern Seismology – a site providing much information with many multiple links and references – compiled to celebrate the centenary of his death
- John Milne on Tokyo University library website (Japanese, includes photographs)
- Carisbrooke Castle Museum – collection includes many thousand original historic images
- Isle of Wight County Record Office – original material including manuscripts and images
- Earthquakes – A Seismograph Measures Earthquakes at inventors.about.com
- John Milne: Isle of Wight's earthquake science pioneer – BBC News article, 31 July 2013
- John Milne – by International Seismological Centre (ISC) in UK. ISC is the 1964 successor to the ISS