Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mary Buckland

Well, this is pretty different from other posts, but I want to get a photo of Mary Morland Buckland on the web, so when someone Googles her, they can get this image.

I had searched for a picture of Mary Buckland while preparing a presentation for the 125th Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America.  I was asked to make a presentation in the "Great Books" session, and I chose to present on William Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise (1826).  Except that I called it "William and Mary Morland Buckland's Bridgewater Treatise" because Mary Buckland (nee Morland) was an important partner in Buckland's works, including illustrating, editing, and general partnership in all things paleontological.  She was already a practicing paleontologist (though that label wasn't yet used) when she met William Buckland, marrying him about 5 years later.

Mary Morland Buckland wikipedia bio

In her short bio in Wikipedia, they have used a silhouette of the family, first published in their daughter Elizabeth's Life and Letters of William Buckland.  I think Mary Buckland made this silhouette, but I am not entirely sure.  It's pretty cute because it shows what a menagerie their house was, with oldest son Frank under the table.  Mary is holding fossils -- ammonites, it looks like.

She was well known for her illustrations, particularly of vertebrates.  Her work was used by Cuvier, Conybeare, Agassiz, and of course in Bucklands' work. You can find some of those illustrations, and a few blog entries on Mary Morland (Buckland) on the web.

Finally, a few days before GSA, I found a photo portrait of Mary Buckland.  She looks to be in her later years.  She bore 9 children, five of whom survived to adulthood.  She home-schooled them.  She partnered with William Buckland in his paleontological works and did large illustrations for his Oxford lectures.  So here is the only known picture of Mary Buckland:
Now I want to see if I Google Mary Buckland, if I get this picture.  It's from plate 5 in Burgess, G.H.O., 1967.  The Eccentric Ark.  The Curious World of Frank Buckland.  NY Horizon Pres (I scanned it from  the US edition, which I bought used).  Figure caption:  Mary Buckland, from an original photograph in the possession of Mrs. Phyllis Cursham.


  1. Great post! I'm amazed that we even have a picture of her at all, as I haven't even found any of Buckland aside from the usual engravings. I've been researching Buckland and the general history of paleontology for the last few years, mostly out of my own personal interest, but also because I'm currently writing a historical novel which features the Dean himself! Mary only makes a brief appearance, and that's mostly because I couldn't find very much information about her or her children. For instance, we read that they had nine children, only five of whom lived to adulthood, and yet I can't find a definite roster or family tree for them anywhere, and know next to nothing about them aside from disinterested references in either Frank's biography or the latter written for Rev. Buckland himself. So you know of any available source where we can such information?

    1. Ah, sorry I didn't see this comment sooner! I have a powerpoint with some family-tree information, e.g., which I could send you, are we allowed to post e-mail addresses here? jbourgeo2000 at yahoo.com
      P.S. I am a big fan of the Dean, and recently have tried to learn more about the family.