Deans Yard, 17A, London SW1P 3PB, United Kingdom
Conybeare was educated first at Westminster school.
Oxford OX1 2JD, UK
Conybeare went in 1805 to Christ Church, Oxford, where in 1808 he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts, with a first in classics and second in mathematics, and proceeded to Master of Arts three years later.
In 1844, Conybeare was awarded the Wollaston medal by the Geological Society of London.
(An analytical examination into the character, value, and ...)
An analytical examination into the character, value, and just application of the writings of the Christian fathers during the ante-Nicene period.
Educated first at Westminster school, Conybeare went in 1805 to Christ Church, Oxford, where in 1808 he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts, with a first in classics and second in mathematics, and proceeded to Master of Arts three years later. Attracted to the study of geology by the lectures of Dr John Kidd he pursued the subject with ardour.
Conybeare took a curacy in Suffolk, became rector of Sully (Glamorganshire) in 1822, took his family living as vicar of Axminster (Devon) in 1836, and became dean of Llandaff in 1845. An early member (1811) of the Geological Society of London, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1832. In addition to his scientific work he published works on biblical and patristic theology and was Bampton lecturer at Oxford in 1839.
Conybeare was one of the most active early members of the “Oxford school” of geology and was a close associate of William Buckland. He was one of the most able British exponents of the synthesis of progressionism and catastrophism, which dominated geology in the 1820’s and 1830’s.
His most important single work was his great enlargement and improvement of William Phillips’ compilation of English stratigraphy. This created a synopsis of stratigraphical knowledge that was at the time unrivaled in detail and accuracy. In the general introduction to the Outlines, Conybeare considered the range of “actual causes” but regarded them as inadequate to explain such phenomena as the “diluvium” (glacial drift) and the form of valleys; for these he proposed diluvial explanations, although without stressing any concordance with the scriptural Flood. The Outlines described British stratigraphy back to the Carboniferous and was termed “Part I”; Adam Sedgwick was to have assisted Conybeare with a second volume on the earlier strata, but it was never published. Conybeare collaborated with Buckland in a stratigraphical memoir on the coal fields around Bristol that was much admired as a model of clear description and reasoned inference; he also attempted a general correlation with Continental stratigraphy and tectonics.
Some fragmentary fossil remains from the Lias of Lyme Regis prompted Conybeare’s main work in paleontology. From a detailed comparison of normal reptiles and the highly aberrant Ichthyosaurus, he inferred that the new remains were intermediate in anatomy. This reconstruction of the Plesiosaurus, which excited great interest, was later confirmed by the discovery of a more complete skeleton. His functional anatomy clearly was modeled on Cuvier; but he stressed the interest of intermediate forms as “links in the chain” of organisms, showing, however, by an explicit rejection of Lamarck’s transmutation, that the chain was that of an échelle des êtres, not an evolutionary series.
Conybeare’s exposition of the catastrophist-progressionist synthesis was both more able and more moderate than that of Buckland. He argued in 1829 that the fluvial erosion postulated by Lyell for the valleys of central France was inadequate to explain the form of the valleys of the Thames and other British rivers and suggested that the more powerful agency of a “diluvial” episode was required to account for them. He defended the progressionist viewpoint on directional climatic change against the criticisms of John Fleming and later (1830-1831) wrote one of the most important defenses of the whole progressionist synthesis in answer to the more radical attack of Lyell’s Principles of Geology. The moderate and flexible character of his catastrophism is shown, however, by his skepticism about Élie de Beaumont’s theory of the parallel and paroxysmal elevation of mountain ranges: here he not only criticized the hasty generalization of the theory and its inapplicability to British geology but also emphasized the slow and gradual nature of many - though not all - tectonic movements. His presidency of the Geology Section of the British Association in 1832 gave him an opportunity to review the general progress of the science. Here, and later in an important letter to Lyell, he expounded his own theoretical viewpoint. This combined an actualistic method in geology with an acceptance of occasional paroxysmal episodes, the overall trend of earth history being one of progressive diminution in the intensity of geological processes coupled with a progressive rise in the complexity of the organic world, culminating in the appearance of man.
(An analytical examination into the character, value, and ...)1839
Conybeare married in 1814, thought the name of his wife is unknown. He had 3 sons.