Royal Society of South Australia

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The Royal Society of South Australia (RSSA) is a Learned Society whose interest is in Science, particularly, but not only, of South Australia. The major aim of the Society is the promotion and diffusion of scientific knowledge, particularly in relation to Natural Sciences.

The Society stems directly from the Adelaide Philosophical Society founded on 10 January 1853. The title "Royal" was granted by her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1880 and the Society became known by its present designation. It was incorporated in 1883.

Adelaide Philosophical Society[edit]

The Society had its origins in a meeting at the Stephens Place home of J. L. Young (founder of the Adelaide Educational Institution) on the evening of 10 January 1853. Members inducted were Messrs. John Brown, John Howard Clark, Davy, Doswell, Charles Gregory Feinaigle, Gilbert, Gosse, Hamilton, Hammond, W. B. Hays, Jones, Kay, Mann, W. W. Whitridge, Williams, Wooldridge and John Lorenzo Young.[1] J. Howard Clark was elected secretary. On 15 September rules were adopted and His Excellency the Governor Sir Henry Young was elected president.[2] At the time of its first Annual General Meeting membership had risen to 35.[3] T. D. Smeaton has also been credited with helping found the Society.[4]

It became the Royal Society of South Australia late in 1880, to follow the terminology adopted by the other Australian colonies, and perhaps hoping to emulate their success.[5]


There are five classes of members:[6]

  • Honorary Fellows,
  • Sustaining Fellows,
  • Fellows,
  • Associate Fellows and
  • Student Fellows

Awards and medals[edit]

The society awards:[7]

List of presidents[edit]

Royal Society of South Australia Presidents:[8]

Term Name
1853–1854 Young, Sir Henry Sir Henry Young
1855 Babbage, Benjamin Benjamin Babbage
1856–1861 MacDonnell, Sir Richard Sir Richard MacDonnell
1862–1868 Daly, Sir Dominick Sir Dominick Daly
1869–1872 Ferguson, James James Ferguson
1877 Jervois, Sir William Sir William Jervois
1878–1879 Tate , Ralph Ralph Tate
1880–1881 Way, Sir Samuel Sir Samuel Way
1882 Todd, Sir Charles Sir Charles Todd
1883 Whittell, H. J.H. J. Whittell
1884 Lamb, Sir Horace Sir Horace Lamb
1885 Mais, Henry Henry Mais [9]
1886–1889 Rennie, Edward Edward Rennie
1889 Stirling, Sir Edward Sir Edward Stirling
1890–1891 Blackburn, Thomas Thomas Blackburn [10]
1892–1894 Tate, Ralph Ralph Tate (2nd term)
1895–1896 Howchin, Walter Walter Howchin
1897–1899 Cleland, William Lennox William Lennox Cleland
1900–1903 Rennie, Edward Edward Rennie (2nd term)
1903–1921 Verco , Sir JosephSir Joseph Verco
1921 Rogers, Richard Sanders Richard Sanders Rogers [11]
1922–1924 Pulleine, Robert Robert Pulleine [12]
1925 Mawson, Sir DouglasSir Douglas Mawson
1926 Osborn , Theodore Theodore Osborn
1927 Jones, Frederic Wood Frederic Wood Jones
1927–1928 Cleland, Sir JohnSir John Cleland
1929–1930 Ward, Leonard Keith Leonard Keith Ward
1931 Fenner, Charles Charles Fenner [13]
1932 Johnston, Thomas Harvey Thomas Harvey Johnston [14]
1933 Prescott, James Arthur James Arthur Prescott
1934 Black, John McConnell John McConnell Black
1935 Campbell , Thomas Draper Thomas Draper Campbell [15]
1936 Madigan, Cecil Cecil Madigan
1937 Hale, Herbert Mathew Herbert Mathew Hale [16]
1938 Davidson, James James Davidson [17][18]
1939 Fry, Henry Henry Fry
1940 Segnit, Ralph W. Ralph W. Segnit
1941 Cleland, Sir John Sir John Cleland (2nd term)
1942 Wood, Joseph Garnett Joseph Garnett Wood
1943 Cooke, William Ternent William Ternent Cooke [19]
1944 Womersley , Herbert Herbert Womersley [20]
1945 Mawson, Sir Douglas Sir Douglas Mawson (2nd term)
1946 Piper, Clarence Sherwood Clarence Sherwood Piper [21]
1947 Trumble, Hugh Christian Hugh Christian Trumble [22]
1948 Swan , D. C. D. C. Swan
1949 Tindale , Norman Norman Tindale [23]
1950 Kleeman, A. W. A. W. Kleeman
1951 Cotton, B. C. B. C. Cotton
1952 Andrewartha, H. G. H. G. Andrewartha [24]
1953 Dickinson , S. B. S. B. Dickinson
1954 Taylor, J. K. J. K. Taylor
1955 Southcott, R. V. R. V. Southcott
1956 Stephens, C. G. C. G. Stephens
1957 Thomas , I. M. I. M. Thomas
1958 Parkin , L. W. L. W. Parkin
1959–1960 Lothian, T. R. N. T. R. N. Lothian
1961 Southcott, R. V. R. V. Southcott (2nd term)
1962 Ludbrook, Nelly Hooper Nelly Hooper Ludbrook
1963 Hutton , J. T. J. T. Hutton
1964 Alderman , A. R. A. R. Alderman
1965 Edmonds, S.J. S.J. Edmonds
1966 Daily, B. B. Daily
1967 Womersley, H. B. S. H. B. S. Womersley
1968 Miles, K. R. K. R. Miles
1969 Mitchell, F. J. F. J. Mitchell
1970 Wells, C. B. C. B. Wells
1971 Inglis, W. G. W. G. Inglis
1972 Wopfner, H. H. Wopfner
1973 Lee, K. E. K. E. Lee
1974 Gross , G. F. G. F. Gross
1975 Holmes , J. W. J. W. Holmes
1976 Twidale, C. R. C. R. Twidale
1977 Webb, B. P. B. P. Webb
1978 Szent-Ivany, J. J. H. J. J. H. Szent-Ivany
1979 Ling, J. K. J. K. Ling
1980 Shepherd, S. A. S. A. Shepherd
1981 Bonython , Warren Warren Bonython
1982–1983 Corbett, D. W. P. D. W. P. Corbett
1984 Womersley, J. S. J. S. Womersley
1985–1986 Tyler, M. J. M. J. Tyler
1987 Scott, T. D. T. D. Scott
1988–1989 Mayo, G. M. E. G. M. E. Mayo
1990–1992 Locket , N. A. N. A. Locket
1992–1994 Williams, W. D. W. D. Williams
1994–1996 Davies, M. M. Davies
1996–1998 White, T. C. R. T. C. R. White
1998–2000 Williams, M. A. J. M. A. J. Williams
2000–2002 Alley, N. F. N. F. Alley
2002–2004 Wiebkin, O. W. O. W. Wiebkin
2004–2006 Fitzpatrick, Rob W. Rob W. Fitzpatrick [25]
2006–2008 Pring, Allan Allan Pring [26]
2008–2010 Jennings, John John Jennings [27]
2010–2012 Souter, Nicholas J. Nicholas J. Souter
2012–2014 Williams, Craig R. Craig R. Williams
2014–2016 Bull, C. Michael C. Michael Bull
2016–Present Long, J. J. Long

Verco Medal recipients[edit]

"The medal shall be awarded for distinguished scientific work published by a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Australia. It is the highest honour that the Society can bestow on one of its Fellows. Only those who have made a significant, outstanding contribution to their field(s) of study receive the award."[7]

The medal is named in honour of Joseph Verco. The first award of the medal was to Prof Walter Howchin in 1929.[28]

Previous winners include:

Year Name
1966 Alderman
2004 Alley, NevilleNeville Alley [29]
1962 Andrewartha, HerbertHerbert Andrewartha
1996 Archer (paleontologist), MikeMike Archer (paleontologist)
1989 Beveridge, IanIan Beveridge
1930 Black, John McConnellJohn McConnell Black
2003 Bowie, JohnJohn Bowie [30]
1933 Cleland, John BurtonJohn Burton Cleland
De Deckker, PatrickPatrick De Deckker
1960 Finlayson, Henry HerbertHenry Herbert Finlayson
1999 Fitzpatrick, RobRob Fitzpatrick
1970 Glaessner, MartinMartin Glaessner [31]
1946 Hale, Herbert M.Herbert M. Hale
1935 Johnston, Thomas HarveyThomas Harvey Johnston [32]
1929 Howchin, WalterWalter Howchin
1976 Hutton
1963 Nelly Hooper Ludbrook
1945 Madigan, CecilCecil Madigan
1931 Mawson, DouglasDouglas Mawson
1971 Mountford, Charles P.Charles P. Mountford
1972 Parkin
1957 Piper, Clarence SherwoodClarence Sherwood Piper [33]
1938 Prescott, James ArthurJames Arthur Prescott
1967 Pryor
2008 Shepherd, ScoresbyScoresby Shepherd
2010 Smith, MikeMike Smith [34]
1965 Southcott
1961 Specht
1968 Sprigg, RegReg Sprigg
1959 Stephens
1974 Thomas
1975 Thomson
1956 Tindale, NormanNorman Tindale
1980 Tyler, Michael J.Michael J. Tyler
1955 Ward, Leonard KeithLeonard Keith Ward
White, TomTom White
2007 Williams, MartinMartin Williams [35]
1990 Williams, William David (Bill)William David (Bill) Williams [36]
1943 Womersley, HerbertHerbert Womersley
1969 Womersley, Hugh Bryan SpencerHugh Bryan Spencer Womersley [37]
1944 Wood, Joseph GarnettJoseph Garnett Wood
1973 Wopfner [38]
1932 not awarded
1934 not awarded
1936–1937 not awarded
1939–1942 not awarded
1947–1954 not awarded
1958 not awarded
1964 not awarded

Notable members[edit]

Notable members of the Royal Society of South Australia have included:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Adelaide Philosophical Society South Australian Register 11 January 1853 p.3 accessed 30 May 2011
  2. ^ Adelaide Philosophical Society South Australian Register 19 September 1853 p.3 accessed 30 May 2011
  3. ^ Adelaide Philosophical Society South Australian Register 30 January 1854 p.3 accessed 30 May 2011
  4. ^ "The Late Mr. T. D. Smeaton". The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929). Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia. 19 February 1908. p. 5. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  5. ^ "Tuesday, October 12, 1880.". The South Australian Advertiser. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 12 October 1880. p. 4. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Membership, Royal Society of South Australia Inc.
  7. ^ a b Awards & Medals, Royal Society of South Australia Inc.
  8. ^ List of Presidents, RSSA
  9. ^ Sally O'Neill, 'Mais, Henry Coathupe (1827–1916)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, Melbourne University Press, 1974, pp 200-201
  10. ^ Blackburn, Thomas (1844–1912), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  11. ^ Joyce Gibberd, 'Rogers, Richard Sanders (1861–1942)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, Melbourne University Press, 1988, p. 443.
  12. ^ Neville Hicks, Helen McIntosh, 'Pulleine, Robert Henry (1869–1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, Melbourne University Press, 1988, pp 306-307.
  13. ^ Lynne Trethewey, 'Fenner, Charles Albert Edward (1884–1955)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, pp 481-482.
  14. ^ Dorothea F. Sandars, 'Johnston, Thomas Harvey (1881–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, Melbourne University Press, 1983, p. 501.
  15. ^ Tasman Brown, Ruth Rogers, 'Campbell, Thomas Draper (1893–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, pp 361-362.
  16. ^ Hale, Herbert Mathew (1895–1963), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  17. ^ Davidson, James (1885–1945), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  18. ^ T. O. Browning, 'Davidson, James (1885–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, pp 226-227.
  19. ^ Cooke, William Ternent (1877–1957), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
    Margaret Macilwain, 'Cooke, Constance Mary Ternent (1882–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, Melbourne University Press, 2005, pp 76-77.
  20. ^ Womersley, Herbert (1889–1962), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  21. ^ Piper, Clarence Sherwood (1903–1988), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  22. ^ Trumble, Hugh Christian (1903–), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  23. ^ Tindale, Norman Barnett (1900–1993), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
  24. ^ Andrewartha, Herbert George (1907–1992), Encyclopedia of Australian Science,
    L. C. Birch and T. O. Browning, Herbert George Andrewartha 1907-1992, Historical Records of Australian Science, vol.9, no.3, 1993.
  25. ^ Dr. Rob W. Fitzpatrick, CSIRO
  26. ^ Dr. Allan Pring, SA Museum
  27. ^ Dr. John Jennings, University of Adelaide
  28. ^ Award of the Sir Joseph Verco Medal 1929-1976, TRSSA, Vol 100, p.208,
  29. ^ The Board of South East Energy
  30. ^ Frog research – more than skin deep, 16 December 2003, also at
  31. ^ Glaessner, Martin Fritz (1906–1989),
  32. ^ Johnston, Thomas Harvey (1881–1951),
  33. ^ Piper, Clarence Sherwood (1903–1988),
  34. ^ Dr Mike Smith, National Museum of Australia
  35. ^ Royal Society honours for two, Adelaidean, October 2007,
  36. ^ Williams, William David (1936–),
  37. ^ Womersley, Hugh Bryan Spencer (1922–),
  38. ^ Dr Helmut Wopfner—Biography, PESA News, June/July 2010, p.56
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Cumming, D.A. and Moxham, G. They Built South Australia published by the authors February 1986 ISBN 0-9589111-0-X

External links[edit]