Index of Honorary Members 1822-1890
From its inception in December 1822 the YPS gave honorary membership to numerous already distinguished gentlemen of learning, deliberately to enhance the status of the new society. As early as February 1823 there were 30 honorary members, including university men like William Buckland and Adam Sedgwick. Our president, William Venables Vernon, used his many contacts from his Oxford days and his position as the son of the Archbishop to add to their number over the next few years. Some local men were also honoured, such as William ‘Strata’ Smith and the artist William Etty. By April 1831 the total throughout Great Britain and Ireland was 69, plus ten foreign members in Paris, Geneva, Berlin, Prague, Philadelphia and New York. We counted John Dalton in Manchester, Sir Humphry Davy in London and David Brewster in Edinburgh among them.
The last-named assisted in bringing about the crowning success of the society’s early years, a gathering later in 1831 of men from all over the country and abroad at the newly opened Yorkshire Museum that established the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the BA (now the British Science Association, or BSA). Another 18 honorary memberships followed, including William Whewell of Trinity College, Cambridge (who later coined the word ‘scientist’). As the years went by and older men died, membership was awarded to the younger generation replacing them, such as Richard Owen, Charles Darwin and Thomas Huxley. By 1890 awards had been made to 250 men, 56 of them overseas. There were 59 honorary members in Great Britain and Ireland at that date, with a further 31 abroad.
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