Charles Lyell: Theory, Contribution, Education, Facts, Books & Net Worth

Sir Charles Lyell is a profound geologist who thoroughly demonstrated the power of natural causes in Earth’s history. He rose to fame with his book titles Principles of Geology. The book helped garner a lot of attention from the audience and acknowledged that Earth was shaped by natural processes that are still applicable today.

Along with that, Lyell also explained climate change, shifting boundaries of ocean and continents, differences in temperature and rainfall. In this article about Charles, we will discuss how this amazing geologist discovered astounding theory. Let’s start with some quick facts;

Quick Facts of Charles Lyell

Full Name

Sir Charles Lyell, Baronet

Nick Name

Charles Lyell

Birth Date

November 14, 1797

Age of Death

77 years old

Date of Death

February 22, 1875



Birth Place

Kinnordy House, Angus, Scotland

Father’s Name

Charles Lyell

Grand Father’s Name

Charles Lyell



Known For



Not Known




Not Known


Kings College, Exeter College





Marital Status



Mary Horner

Net Worth

Not Known

Social Media


Nationality, Parents, and Siblings

Charles was born on the 14th day of November in 1797 in Kinnordy house. He came from a wealthy family and was the eldest among ten children. His father’s name is also Charles Lyell, who worked as a translator and scholar of Dante. His father was the one who exposed him to observe nature and study it.

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Not to mention his grandfather’s name is also Charles Lyell, who made a fortune by transporting the Royal Nocay at Montrose. When he was a child, Lyell spent most of his childhood at Bartley Lodge located in the New Forest, Hampshire, Southern England. As a matter of this geologist belongs to Scottish nationality.

Childhood and Education

Charles’s father always inspired him to study and sparked some interest in the field of geology. In 1816, he enrolled in Exeter College, Oxford, and studied under the tutelage of William Buckland. In December 1819, he received BA Hons, a second class degree in classics, and later got M.A in the next year.

He was attracted by Robert Jameson‘s lectures in Edinburg and went to it in 1821. In the year 1823, Lyell was elected to joint secretary of the Geological Society. That is also the time when he had poor vision and dedicated his full time to geology.

Charles Lyell
Charles is a Scottish Geologist

Eventually, he chose law as his profession and entered lincoln’s Inn in 1820. By 1827, he left his career in law and sought after geology. Not to mention he was selected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


Charles briefly started his career as a lawyer in the 1820s and became a Professor of Geology at King’s College London in 1830. After that, he was busy publishing astounding theories in the field of geology. Similarly, he had a range of interests in the field of paleontology, glaciology, stratigraphy, prehistoric archaeology, paleoanthropology.

Among all, he had made his name from the doctrine of uniformitarianism. It is also known that he played a pivotal role in pushing the studies of loess further. Charles was well aware of the fact that geological surveys could have economic advantages. He succeeded in citing mineral-rich countries.

Charles Lyell
Charles Lyell was a renowned geologist

Moreover, he endorsed many surveys and advanced his study of geology. He extended his work in the coal and oil industry too. As a matter of fact, the concept of the earthquake was also developed by this amazing geologist. Prior to his theory, the majority of people thought that the earthquake was considered as the destruction human being brought on themselves.

Luckily his principle made the cause of the earthquake crystal clear. During his youth, Charles vigorously studied two volcanoes Vesuvius and Etna. Furthermore, Lyell revealed that icebergs could e the means of transport of erratics. Also, he proposed that when the iceberg melts, it rains down on earth. This theory suggested the presence of diluvium, the word drift, term for the loose, nowadays known as till.

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Moreover, Lyell established the classification of geological deposits, long known as the Tertiary period. In 1828, he migrated to Roderick Impey Murchison to the south of France. In accordance with his book Principles of Geology, he named the four parts Eocene, Miocene, Pliocene, and Recent.

Working with Other Reputable Scientist

unlike other Charles appreciated and acknowledged other men in science. In 1826, he was fascinated by the work of Lamarck’s Zoological Philosophy. In 1827, he wrote to Mantell explaining his happiness and admiration for his work. Later on, Charles restored the transmutation of species with natural theology.

Darwin and Lyell were long-time friends, along with Hooker and Huxley. He was also the one who promoted his work on Origin of Species. Despite the fact that he disagreed with most contents of the books, he supported Darwin.

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Lyell had his own religious belief, and he rarely agreed with the fact of evolution. Among all, he had a hard time difficulty believing in natural selection as the main component in evolution.

Charles Lyell Wife and Kids

This multitalented geologist walked down the aisle with beautiful Mary Horner In 1832. Also, she was Leonard Horner‘s daughter and regularly associated with the Geological Society of London. The couple shared an inevitable love for geology, literature, and each other.

Charles Lyell
Charles died in the year of 1875

They got married in Bonn and went on a honeymoon in fancy places such as Switzerland and Italy. Surprisingly, Mary’s sister Katherine also married Lyell’s younger brother, Henry. In 1840, Charles traveled through the United States, Canada and wrote several books. Unfortunately, his wife died in 1873, and a couple of years later, Charles left this world.

Charles Lyell Cause of Death

Charles was a brilliant man who dedicated his whole life to the field of Geology. After his wife’s demise, he was involved in daily work to forget the dreadful change as far as possible.

According to some reliable resources, it is reported that Lyell’s died while revising the Principles of Geology for its 12th edition. His body was buried in Westminster Abbey, where there is a bust of him by William Theed.

Charles Lyell Net Worth

During Charles’s lifetime, he discovered many theories and published several books. That alone let him earn enough money to spend his livelihood. Sadly his net worth is not revealed to the general mass. But we bet it was pretty much.

Awards and Honors

In 1848, Charles was honored as a Knight and made a Baronet in 1864. In 1858, he was laureate of the Copley Medal of the Royal Society and received the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society in 1866. The highest pen in Yosemite National Park is named Mount Lyell after his name.

Amongst others, Lyell Range in north-west Western Australia is named after Charles. In addition to this, Southwest Nelson in the South Island of New Zealand and Lyell Range Lyell River, as well as the gold mining town of Lyell, were all named after him.

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Even more, there is a Lyell Glacier in South Georgia named after him. In Rochester, New York, there is an Avenue, Lyell Avenue, named after him. A jawless fish named Cephalaspis Lyelli from the Old Red Sandstone of southern Scotland is also named after Charles by Louis Agassiz.

Books and Publications

The first-ever book of Charles is none other than Principles of geology. He was a good friend of famous geologist Charles Darwin and has contributed to Darwin’s thinking on the process of evolution. Once the famous geologist Darwin wrote in On the Origin of Species,

“He who can read Sir Charles Lyell’s grand work on the Principles of Geology, which the future historian will recognize as having produced a revolution in natural science, yet does not admit how incomprehensibly vast have been the past periods of time, may at once close this volume.”

Not to mention, Charles has helped to arrange publication in 1858 for Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace on natural selection. Furthermore, he published the second and third volumes of Principles of Geology in 1832 and 1833, respectively. There is no denying that these three books established credentials as the most important geological theorist and doctrine of uniformitarianism.

During his venture in North America, he succeeded in releasing his books. In 1845 he published Travels in North America and A Second Visit to the United States of North America in 1849.

Social Media Presence

Unfortunately, Charles Lyell is not active on any social media platforms. He was from 17th century and during that time the world was not that advance to have internet. Henceforth, there was no possible way Charles could be active on any social media platforms.

Quotes of Charles Lyell

  • Never call an accountant a credit to his profession; a good accountant is a debit to his profession. – Charles Lyell
  • It has long been a fact familiar to geologists, that both on the east and west coasts of the central part of Scotland, there are lines of raised beaches, containing marine shells of the same species as those now inhabiting the neighbouring sea. – Charles Lyell
  • In valley drift we meet commonly with the bones of quadrupeds which graze on plains bordering rivers. – Charles Lyell
  • So far, therefore, as we can draw safe conclusions from a single specimen, there has been no marked change of race in the human population of Switzerland during the periods above considered. – Charles Lyell
  • In reply, I can only plead that a discovery which seems to contradict the general tenor of pervious investigations is naturally received with much hesitation. – Charles Lyell


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