Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Interesting Genealogical Connections of the Lunar Society Members and their Offspring

Charles Darwin's theories of evolution and natural selection have shaken the world.  To this day they draw controversy.  Some religious groups feel that these theories are in direct contradiction to their belief systems.  Many of the great intellectuals of the Age of Enlightenment, while fiercely defending scientific inquiry were very religious in their own right. Look, for example, at Joseph Priestley.  While many of his era would have considered his religious views heretical, he firmly believed in God and that scientific inquiry would only give man a deeper understanding of Him.

In my ramblings into the Age of Enlightenment, English Industrial Revolution and the Lunar Society, in particular, I had known of two of the eminent members being Erasmus Darwin, the noted doctor, and Josiah Wedgwood, the famous manufacturer of porcelain. I knew that Erasmus Darwin had written some interesting material about "evolution" and I knew that he was the grandfather of Charles, the noted naturalist.

What I didn't know was that Erasmus Darwin's son Robert (Charles' father) had married Josiah Wedgwood's daughter Susannah (Charles' mother). Talk about a great gene pool. Wow!  No wonder Charles could have put it all together.

Also, Samuel Galton, another Lunar Society member, Quaker and noted arms manufacturer, was the grandfather of Francis Galton, the eminent Victorian intellectual who originated statistical methods for many areas of scientific research and developed the concept of statistical correlation. Francis lived at Fair Hill, which was the site of the Priestley house and Laboratory that was burned down in the Birmingham Riots of 1791. Francis' other grandfather was Erasmus Darwin. Zingo! Another one.

So long as we are on this genealogy stuff. Mary Priestley, Joseph Priestley's wife was the daughter of John Wilkinson, the famous ironmaster of Wilkinson sword fame.
This was quite a fraternity. I'm sure that there were many more. If you know of any others, please let me know.

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