Page 59
Previous/Next Page
Science and the making of VictoriaRoyal Society of Victoria
Table of Contents

Royal Society of Victoria - Approaching Centenary


Contact us
Royal Society of Victoria—Approaching Centenary

It was in November 1859 that the Philosophical Institute of Victoria was granted permission by Queen Victoria to assume the title of 'Royal Society of Victoria'. Continuity of all activities, including publication, was maintained, so that there would be justification for regarding 1854 (the date of foundation of the Victorian Institute, which amalgamated with the Philosophical Society to become the Philosophical Institute) as the date of origin of the Royal Society of Victoria. It has, however, been decided to mark the assumption of the present title—'Royal Society of Victoria'—by centenary celebrations in 1959–60. 8 November 1859 was the date borne on a dispatch from the Duke of Newcastle to Sir Henry Barkly, K.C.B., Governor of Victoria at the time.

The dispatch read, "I have received your dispatch 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'." The announcement reached the President, Dr. Mueller, on 3 January 1860, and at the next annual meeting, in the following March, His Excellency the Governor was—with his permission—elected President.

Plans for the celebration of the centenary will be announced later, but the attention of the Council has already been drawn by the late Professor O. W. Tiegs, F.R.S. (who for many years was himself a Councillor, and Chairman of the Library Committee), to the coincidence that 1859–60 was also the date of publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, and that Dr. (later Baron) Ferdinand von Mueller, one of Australia's greatest biologists, was President at the time. Tiegs had just completed, before his untimely death, a most important review of the Origin of the Arthropods. Doubtless the combination of these circumstances will influence the Society in its plans for some appropriate occasion to mark its centenary in 1959–60.

Very early in its history, the Philosophical Institute of Victoria was invited by the Royal Society of Arts in London and also by the State Government, to consider and report on The Resources of the Colony of Victoria, and an expert committee was engaged for years in gathering material on the climate of Victoria and the capabilities of its soil, mineral resources, building materials, indigenous vegetable resources, agriculture and horticulture, animal products including fisheries, harbours, rivers and internal communication. The 80-page report of this committee is an appendix to the volume of Proceedings and Transactions for 1860, now an intensely interesting and fundamental historical document.

The Burke and Wills Expedition marks a highlight in the public activity of the Royal Society, which was responsible for the notion of the exploration, and for all arrangements and expenditure connected with it.

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

People in Bright Sparcs - Barkly, Henry; Burke, Robert O'Hara; Darwin, Charles; Hills, Edwin Sherbon; Mueller, Dr Ferdinand; Tiegs, Oscar Werner; Wills, William John

Previous Page Royal Society of Victoria Next Page

Hills, Edward Sherbon 1957 'Royal Society of Victoria - Approaching Centenary', The Australian Journal of Science, vol.19, no.4, February 1957, pp. 144-45.

© Copyright of Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre and The Royal Society of Victoria 2001
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher