Robert Were Fox FRS (April 26, 1789 – July 25, 1877), English geologist and natural philosopher, known today mainly for his work on the temperature of the earth and his construction of a compass to measure magnetic dip at sea. He was a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and was descended from members who had long settled in Cornwall, although he was not related to George Fox who had introduced the community into the county.
Fox was born in 1789 at Falmouth, the son of Robert Were Fox (1754 - 1818) and his wife, Elizabeth Tregelles. In 1814, Fox the Younger married Maria Barclay (1785 – 1858), daughter of Robert and Rachel Barclay of Bury Hill, near Dorking, Surrey. Her sister, Lucy, married Fox's elder brother, George Croker Fox. Robert Were Fox the Younger and his wife had three children, Anna Maria (1816 – 1897), Barclay (1817 – 1855) and Caroline (1819 – 1871). Caroline became a noted diarist.
Fox was involved in many aspects of his family's businesses, along with his many brothers. He also served as Honorary Consul of the U.S.A in Falmouth from 1819 to 1854.
Fox's gardens at Rosehill and Penjerrick, near Falmouth, became noted for the number of exotic plants which he and his son, Barclay, had naturalized.
Robert Were Fox the Younger died on July 25, 1877 and was buried at the Quaker Burial Ground at Budock.
Fox's work was in what today would be referred to as geophysics. He was distinguished for his researches on the internal temperature of the earth, contributing papers to the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, and being the first to prove that temperature definitely increases with depth (the geothermal gradient), his observations being conducted in Cornish mines from 1815 for a period of forty years. In 1829 he began a set of experiments on the artificial production of miniature metalliferous veins by means of the long-continued influence of electric currents, and his main results were published in 1836.
In 1834 Fox constructed an improved form of deflector dipping needle compass, or dip circle, for polar navigation. One was used by Sir James Clark Ross on his Antarctic expedition and used to discover the position of the South magnetic pole.
Robert Were Fox, his cousin, George Croker Fox (1784-1850) and brother, Alfred Fox, assembled excellent collections of minerals, which are now in the British Museum (Natural History), given by Arthur Russell.
Honours and activities
Fellow of the Royal Society (Elected September 9, 1848)
The Society owns a collection of 125 letters addressed to Fox and his family.
Fox was an active member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in its early days.
Fox was a founder, in 1833, of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society.
The following is a very incomplete list.
Fox, Robert W. (1822). "On the Temperature of Mines". Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall2: 14 – 28. Retrieved on 2007-12-08.
Fox, Robert W. (1827). "Some Further Observations on the Temperature of Mines". Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall3: 313 – 328. Retrieved on 2007-12-08.
Fox, Robert Wear (sic) (1828). "Experiments Illustrative of the Influence of Voltaic Electricity on Copper Pyrites". The Annals of Electricity, Magnetism, and Chemistry3: 133 – 134. Retrieved on 2007-12-08.
Fox, Robert Were (1828). "Some Observations of Metalliferous Veins, and their Electro-magnetic Properties". Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall3: 21 – 28. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.
Fox, Robert Were (1830). "On the Electro-Magnetic Properties of Metalliferous Veins in the Mines of Cornwall". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London120: 399 – 414.
Fox, Robert Were (1831). "On the Variable Intensity of Terrestrial Magnetism, and the Influence of the Aurora Borealis upon It". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London121: 199 – 207.
Fox, Robert Were (1830 – 1837). "On Certain Irregularities in the Magnetic Needle, Produced by Partial Warmth, and the Relations Which Appear to Subsist between Terrestrial Magnetism and the Geological Structure and Thermo-Electrical Currents of the Earth". Abstracts of the Papers Printed in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London3: 123 – 125.
Fox, Robert Were (1840). "Some Remarks on Electric Currents in Metalliferous Veins". The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal28: 267 – 270. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.
Fox, Robert Were (1846). "On Certain Pseudo-Morphous Crystals of Quartz". The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal40: 115 – 120. Retrieved on 2007-12-08.
Fox, Robert W. (1855). "On Sand-worn Granite near the Land's-End". Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London11: 549 – 550. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.
Fox, Robert W. (1858). "Report on the Temperature of Some Deep Mines in Cornwall". Report of the Twenty-Seventh Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science11: 96 – 101. London: John Murray. Retrieved on 2007-12-09.
A Catalogue of the Works of Robert Were Fox, F.R.S., with a Sketch of his Life (1878), by J. H. Collins, Truro, Lake & Lake.
Notes and references
^ The main source for this article is ODNB entry: Denise Crook, ‘Fox, Robert Were (1789–1877)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 13 June 2006. A Catalogue of the Works of Robert Were Fox, F.R.S., with a Sketch of his Life, by John Henry Collins, Lake & Lake, Truro, 1878 (66 pages and 2 plates) referred to by Encyclopedia Britannica (1911) has not been seen by the current editor. Page 133 of the Dictionary of National Biography (1899) also has information on Fox.
^ His father bore the same name and lived 1754–1818. He also merited an entry in ODNB: Philip Payton, ‘Fox, Robert Were (1754–1818)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 13 June 2006.
^ Barclay family tree Note that at least three members of the family had the name "George Croker Fox".
^ Barclay Fox's journals also have been published.
^ Sandra & George Pritchard's Fox Rosehill Garden website (accessed 9 December 20077). The Fox Rosehill Gardens and Penjerrick are now both open to the public.
^ Fox, Robert Wear (sic) (1837). "Experiments Illustrative of the Influence of Voltaic Electricity on Copper Pyrites". The Annals of Electricity, Magnetism, and Chemistry1: 133 – 134. Retrieved on 2007-12-08.
^ Denise Crook, ‘Fox, Robert Were (1789–1877)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 15 Nov 2007
^ Fox, Robert Were (1836). "Observations on Mineral Veins". Reports of the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society. Retrieved on 2007-12-08.
In A New and Universal Dictionary of the Marine by William Falconer, improved and modernised by William Burney; T. Cadell & William Davey and John Murray, 1830: Pages 122, 123 and Plate IX, Figure 11, the dip of a needle is defined as
"a certain property which all needles possess when rubbed with a lodestone of inclining the north end below the level of the horizon: this property found to increase in going northward."