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Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
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Royal Society of Victoria 1854-1959


Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science

Philosophical Society of Victoria

Philosophical Institute of Victoria

Royal Society of Victoria



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Philosophical Institute of Victoria (continued)

In 1859 occurred a number of developments in the working of the Institute. Firstly, the proposals for Australian exploration were advanced a step further; secondly, towards the end of the year approval was granted for the change of title to 'The Royal Society of Victoria'; thirdly, the main hall of the new building was completed. The development of the exploration proposals followed a decision by the council that the project was now sufficiently large that it should not be confined to members of the Institute but should be one in which all participated. Following an earlier public meeting, at which the sum of £1,000 was promised by an anonymous donor towards the expenses of the expedition on the condition that the Institute found a further £2,000 within 12 months, the Institute took up the challenge and, by the end of the stipulated period, had not only exceeded this amount but also had the promise of £500 for transport of goods along the Murray and Darling Rivers. In addition, the government having voted the sum of £6,000 for exploration, the general exploration committee applied for and was successful in having this sum added to the moneys already raised by their own efforts. With the financial arrangements secure, the Institute felt it was in a position to embark on the project and offered the leadership of the party to Mr A. C. Gregory of New South Wales who had only recently returned from a similar journey of exploration to the north-west of Australia.

During August of the same year, the application of the Philosophical Institute to assume the title of 'The Royal Society of Victoria' was forwarded to London for the consideration of Her Majesty the Queen. At a special meeting called for 23 January 1860, the President, Dr Mueller, read a copy of a despatch from His Grace the Duke of Newcastle to His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly as follows:

Downing Street.

8th November, 1859

I have received your despatch No. 70 of the 5th of August last, requesting, on behalf of the members of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, of which you are the Patron, that Her Majesty will be pleased to permit that Society to assume the title of 'The Royal Society of Victoria'.

Having laid this application before the Queen, I have much pleasure in informing you that Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to signify her assent to it, and to sanction and approve of the Philosophical Institute in future assuming the title of 'The Royal Society of Victoria'.

I have etc.

(Signed) Newcastle
Governor Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B.

Letter to Sir Henry Barkly

Figure 1 Draft of notification of permission to use title 'Royal Society of Victoria', from Duke of Newcastle to Sir Henry Barkly, 8 November 1859.

This approval arrived at a most opportune time as it coincided with the completion of the hall of the new buildings in the master plan for the new site. This hall also afforded temporary accommodation for the museum of the Institute, and supplied necessary accommodation for sectional meetings. The opinion was expressed at the time that it was hoped to complete another section of the master plan at an early date so as to afford facilities to those members desirous of prosecuting experimental studies, and enable the sections of the Institute to carry out their researches successfully. As an expression of the valuable services rendered to the Institute in the completion of this hall by their honorary architect, Mr Joseph Reed, the council presented him with a life membership.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Philosophical Institute of Victoria; Royal Society of Victoria

People in Bright Sparcs - Barkly, Henry; Gregory, Augustus Charles; Mueller, Dr Ferdinand; Reed, Joseph

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Pescott, R. T. M. 1961 'The Royal Society of Victoria from then, 1854 to now, 1959', Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, vol. 73, no. 7, pp. 1-40.

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