The Personal Archives of Tannatt William Edgeworth DAVID (1858-1934)

Born in Wales, David studied at Magdalen College School, Oxford (1870-1876) and Oxford University from which he graduated as Bachelor of Arts in 1880. In 1881, David carried out geological research in Wales. In 1882, he accepted the position of Assistant Geological Surveyor to the NSW Government; he worked on the NSW Geological Survey, especially mapping and correlating the coalfields of NSW. In 1886, David and his assistant, GA Stonier, discovered the South Maitland coalfield in the Hunter River Valley.

The University of Sydney Senate, at its meeting of 2 March 1891, appointed David to lecture on geology during Lent Term. He was appointed Professor of Geology and Physical Geography at the Senate meeting on 18 May 1891. This decision was opposed by the Committee in England appointed to select a Professor. On retiring in December 1924, David was appointed Emeritus Professor (Senate Minutes 22 Dec 1924).

In 1900, David was awarded fellowship of the Royal Society of London after organising successful expeditions to Funafuti, a coral atoll in the Pacific Ocean, then in the British colony of the Gilbert and Ellise Islands, now in Tuvalu. This followed the failure of an expedition organised by the Royal Society in 1896. The objective of the expeditions was to bore a column of coral to a depth of 600 feet. It was hoped that analysis of such a column would provide evidence to help support or refute Charles Darwin's theory on the origin of coral atolls.

Numerous works authored by David were published by scientific and daily presses. A major work, "Geological Map of the Commonwealth of Australia" was published in 1932.

Glaciation was of especial interest to David. He was a member of the Glacial Research Committee of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). In 1907-09, David took leave from the University to accompany the British Antarctic Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton. In the company of Douglas Mawson and Alistair Mackay, he was the first to reach the Magnetic South Pole.

After retiring from the University, David continued work on a treatise on the geology of Australia, a work he failed to complete. In the late 1920s, he became involved in a controversy on the fossil nature of samples of South Australian rock.

David was an accomplished fund-raiser. For example, he used his influence to obtain essential funds to enable Shackleton's expedition to Antarctica in 1907-09 to proceed. Subsequently, he gave public lectures to raise further funds for this expedition and funds for the Australasian Antarctic Expedition led by Douglas Mawson in 1911-14.

In 1885, David married Caroline Martha Mallett, then Principal of the NSW Government Department of Public Instruction's Hurlstone Training College for Women. In 1916, he served in battlefields in France and Belgium. Awards included FRS (1900), honorary DSc degrees from universities of Oxford (1911), Manchester, Wales, Cambridge, Sydney, Bigsby Medal (1899) and Wollaston Medal (1920) both from the Geological Society of London, Clark Medal of AAAS, CMG (1910), and KBE (1920).

References used and not cited in the text: SU Archives P11; David's application for Chair at the University of Sydney dated 1891 in SU Archives: Biog 909; DF Branagan and TG Vallance, "Australian Dictionary of Biography".

The David series lists and the David items lists are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.