S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Jameson, Staff-Surg Lawrence (geology, palaeontology)

Born: Date not known, Place not known.
Died: Date not known, Place not known.

Lawrence Jameson was a staff-surgeon at the Cape by 1828 and collected rocks and minerals at the places where he was stationed. He resided in Grahamstown from about 1838. In 1839 he published the first geological account of the Eastern Cape, under the title "A few general remarks on the geology of Grahams's Town and its vicinity". His remarks were published in the Grahamstown Journal in three installments, on 3, 24 and 31 January. In part his views were speculative, but he dealt at some length with matters that were important to the local settler community, such as the availability of ground water, the suitability of soil types for agriculture, and the materials available for brick making. He appears to have been aquainted with the views of the German neptunist A.G. Werner, and the German mineralogist J.F.L. Hausmann*. Some of his observations were accurate but others, including that of an enormous trilobite in the local clay slate, were spurious.

Jameson has been credited with discovering the first Karoo fossil reptiles. He mentions finding "a variety of fossil reptiles" in the clay slate of the Grahamstown region, as well as fossilised wood in a greywacke.

His paper created much interest among the settlers in local rocks and minerals, and caused a heated debate on the relative merits of geology and religion as explanations of the world. A.G. Bain* later recalled that he had found Gregory's articles "disjointed and obscure". Gregory left the Cape soon afterwards because of poor health. No other publications by him are known.

List of sources:
Bain, A.G. Reminiscences and anecdotes connected with the history of geology in South Africa... Transactions of the Geological Society of South Africa, 1896, Vol. 2, pp. 59-75 (first published in 1856).

De Klerk, W.J. Albany Museum. In C.R. Anhaeusser (ed.), A century of geological endeavour in southern Africa, 1895-1995 (pp. 324-336). Johannesburg: Geological Society of South Africa, 1997.

Schwarz, E.H.L. Presidential address: The discoveries of economic importance made by the Albany pioneers. Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, 1908, pp. 49-63.

Compiled by: C. Plug