Sir Roderick Murchison was a famous Scottish Geologist, born in Tarrodale, Easter Ross in the Scottish Highlands in 1792. He was the David Attenborough of he’s day. As a young adult he spent many years in an English military college before joining the army for 8 years as an Officer. During his time in the army, Murchison fought in the Peninsular War.
After leaving the army, Murchison married Charlotte Hugonin, a general’s daughter and developed an interest in geology. Charlotte and Roderick finally settled down and made their home in Durham.
Through his interest in geology, Murchison joined the Geological Society of London and penned his first paper in 1825. He eventually became an honorary member of the Black Country Geological Society.
In 1831 he began research on the greywacke rocks on the Welsh Border, which were found below the Devonian Old Red Sandstones. Around 1837 funded by various bishops and Sir Robert Peel, he spent a lot of time working on rocks within the Dudley area. Murchison used fossils found within Dudley to help develop his theory on the Silurian System, which was published in 1839. 65% of the fossils used within this publication were from the Dudley area, including the Wrens Nest. This publication defined the Silurian period of geological history, named after an ancient welsh tribe called the Siluries.
Later work led to the establishment of the Devonian System in 1840 and the Permian System, which he developed whilst travelling in Russia and Scandinavia. Upon completing these systems, he came to hold one of the most important jobs in British geology, he became the Director-General of the Geological Survey in 1855.
In 1846 Murchison was knighted before becoming a Baron in 1866. In 1849 Murchison returned to Dudley as a senior figure in the British Association for the Advancement of Science. With him, he brought a party of top scientists to the limestone mines at Wrens Nest and Castle Hill where it was reported that 15,000 people gathered to hear Murchison speak about the fossil evidence provided by the mines, the crowd then pronounced him “King of Siluria”. He eventually died in London in 1792.