The Yorkshire Philosophical Society was founded in 1822 by four gentlemen of York:

– William Salmond (1769-1838), a retired colonel and amateur geologist;
– Anthony Thorpe (1759-1830), an attorney in the firm of Thorpe and Gray (now Grays, Solicitors);
James Atkinson (1759-1839), a retired surgeon;
William Venables Vernon later known as William Vernon Harcourt, (1789-1871), Vicar of Bishopthorpe, son of Archbishop Vernon of York.

The first three of these gentlemen met for the first minuted meeting of the Society on 7th December 1822. The primary purpose of this was to bring together and find a suitable home for their personal collections of fossil bones. These had been discovered at the recently explored Kirkdale Cave in the North Riding of Yorkshire. William Salmond being a keen geologist was one of the leaders of the exploration of the cave.

Vernon was elected to the Society and attended the second meeting on 14th December at which the prospectus was drawn up “to establish at York, a philosophical society, and to form a scientific library and a museum.”

Vernon went on to be one of the driving forces of the Society and became President.