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The Royal Geographical Society

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  • Raymond Edward Priestley (1886 - 1974)
    PRIESTLEY, Sir RAYMOND EDWARD (1886-1974), scientist and vice-chancellor, was born on 20 July 1886 at Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, England, second son of Joseph Edward Priestley, headmaster of Tewk...
  • E. Frederick H. McSwiney (1858 - 1907)
    Fred was born the night of February 28 or early March 1 in Kronstadt, Port of St. Petersburg, where his father was the Anglican Chaplain serving the large British population in St. Petersburg at that t...
  • William (Billy) Daniel McSwiney, Captain, FRGS (1861 - 1906)
    Billy (William Daniel McSwiney) was born in Kronstadt, Russia, where his father was Anglican Chaplain to the (British) Russia Company at Cronstadt and St. Petersburg. All but the eldest of his siblings...
  • Sir Harry Verney, 2nd Baronet (1801 - 1894)
    4 September 1826 Succeeded to the title of 2nd Baronet Calvert, of Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, England. Son Harry wrote a letter dated October 9 1826 (from Harry Calvert ), with the address of Ch...
  • John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll (1845 - 1914)
    "John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll KG KT GCMG GCVO VD PC (6 August 1845 – 2 May 1914), usually better known by the courtesy title Marquess of Lorne, by which he w...

The Royal Geographical Society

The Royal Geographical Society (RGS), (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the UK's learned society and professional body for geography, founded in 1830. It is a world leader in advancing geography and supporting its practitioners in the UK and across the world.

The Society has over 16,500 members and its work reaches millions of people each year through publications, research groups and lectures.

The Society was founded in 1830 under the name Geographical Society of London as an institution to promote the 'advancement of geographical science'. It later absorbed the older African Association, which had been founded by Sir Joseph Banks in 1788.

Founding members of the Society included Sir John Barrow, Sir John Franklin and Sir Francis Beaufort. Under the patronage of King William IV it later became known as The Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and was granted its Royal Charter under Queen Victoria in 1859.

From 1830 – 1840 the RGS met in the rooms of the Horticultural Society in Regent Street, London and from 1854 -1870 at 15 Whitehall Place, London. In 1870, the Society finally found a home when it moved to 1 Savile Row, London.

In 1911 Earl Curzon, the former Viceroy of India, was elected as the Society's President (1911–1914). The premises in Savile Row were sold and the present site, Lowther Lodge in Kensington Gore, was purchased for £100,000 and opened for use in April 1913.

Lowther Lodge was built in 1874 for the Hon William Lowther by Norman Shaw, an outstanding domestic architects of his day. Extensions to the east wing were added in 1929, and included the New Map Room and the 750 seat Lecture Theatre. The extension was formally opened by HRH the Duke of York (later King George VI) at the Centenary Celebrations on 21 October 1930.

The early history of the Society is inter-linked with the history of British Geography, exploration and discovery. Information, maps, charts and knowledge gathered on expeditions was sent to the RGS, making up its now unique geographical collections. The Society published its first journal in 1831 and from 1855, accounts of meetings and other matters were published in the Society Proceedings.

In 2004, The Society's historical Collections relating to scientific exploration and research, which are of national and international importance, were opened to the public for the first time. In the same year, a new category of membership was introduced to widen access for people with a general interest in geography. The new Foyle Reading Room and glass Pavilion exhibition space were also opened to the public in 2004 – unlocking the Society intellectually, visually and physically for the 21st century. For example, in 2012 the RGS held an exhibition, in the glass Pavilion, of photographs taken by Herbert Ponting on Captain Robert Falcon Scott's expedition to the South Pole in 1912.

Bold links are to Geni profiles. Other links are to external web pages.

Presidents of the Royal Geographical Society

19th century

20th century

21st century

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