Sue Young Histories

Francis Galton 1822 – 1911

May 05, 2010

Sir Francis Galton FRS 1822 – 1911, cousin of Douglas Galton, half cousin of Charles Darwin, was an English Victorian polymath, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician. He was knighted in 1909.

Galton was a relative of Charles Darwin, Erasmus Alvey Darwin, Thomas Henry Huxley, Edward Hesketh Gibbons Pearson, Hensleigh Wedgwood,

Galton was interested in spiritualism and he was a colleague of Robert Masters Theobald, James John Garth Wilkinson, and George Wyld, and he was also a friend of Russell Gurney, Richard Partridge (whose brother Samuel Thomas Partridge was a famous homeopath),

Francis Galton (cousin of the Darwin’s), having caught the fad for Spiritualism, arranged a séance in January 1874 at Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s house with those attending including Charles Darwin, Hensleigh Wedgwood and Thomas Henry Huxley.

Charles Darwin’s son George Darwin hired the medium Charles Williams… (it is possible that Robert Masters Theobald, and George Wyld, were also present),

Galton had a prolific intellect, and produced over 340 papers and books throughout his lifetime. He also created the statistical concept of correlation and widely promoted regression toward the mean.

He was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human differences and inheritance of intelligence, and introduced the use of questionnaires and surveys for collecting data on human communities, which he needed for genealogical and biographical works and for his anthropometric studies.

He was a pioneer in eugenics, coining the very term itself and the phrase “nature versus nurture.” His book, Hereditary Genius (1869), was the first social scientific attempt to study genius and greatness. As an investigator of the human mind, he founded psychometrics (the science of measuring mental faculties) and differential psychology. He devised a method for classifying fingerprints that proved useful in forensic science.

As the initiator of scientific meteorology, he devised the first weather map, proposed a theory of anticyclones, and was the first to establish a complete record of short-term climatic phenomena on a European scale. He also invented the Galton Whistle for testing differential hearing ability.

Of interest:

Sir Douglas Strutt Galton KCB FRS 1822 – 1899, cousin of Francis Galton, was a British engineer, who was educated by Thomas Arnold, whose son Matthew Arnold was an advocate of homeopathy. Douglas Strutt Galton** **was also married to Marianne Nicholson, who was  Florence Nightingale’s cousin. (\_Strutt\_Galton)


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