Foundation of the Society
There had been no mineralogical society in Britain since the short-lived British Mineralogical Society came to an end in 1806. Many mineralogists had joined the Geological Society of London and contributed papers to its publications for several years.
We know that Professor N. Story-Maskelyne had considered trying to form a mineralogical society and had consulted W. H. Miller and others, had been discouraged by their opinions, and had abandoned the idea. Some years later our Society was successfully launched as a result of energetic and enthusiastic work by Joseph Henry Collins, mineralogist and mining engineer, who in 1868 had been appointed lecturer to the Miners’ Association of Cornwall and Devon. Collins met with good support from his friends and colleagues in Cornwall and he issued a first proposal setting out the objectives of the Society and giving a first list of prospective members. This list included the names of A. H. Church, J. H. Collins, Sir William Crookes, T. Davies, Sir Clement Le Neve Foster, R. P. Greg, Marshall Hall, Townshend M. Hall, S. Haughton, F. W. Rudler, and T. A. Readwin. Readwin was an enthusiastic supporter of Collins in trying to recruit members and on the first proposal his name appears as co-secretary with Collins pro tem. But some of the prospective members did not think he was quite the man for the job and in the event Collins only was appointed Secretary. ( – extracted from an article by W. Campbell Smith, 1976. Mineral. Mag. 40)
A second proposal form was circulated later and the list of ‘first’ members in this was much longer. Many of these, seventeen of them, were members of the Scientific Club at 7 Saville Row, which was managed by Captain Marshall Hall, and it was at this club on Hall’s invitation that the inaugural meeting was held on 3 February 1876.
At the meeting, Henry Clifton Sorby presided and it was resolved to form a society to advance the study of mineralogy and petrology to be called ‘The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland’. The Society was to consist of Ordinary Members, Associates, and (Overseas and Foreign) Corresponding Members. Sorby was elected President, J. H. Collins Secretary and Editor of the Magazine, R. P. Greg, Treasurer, and Professors Houghton and Heddle Vice-Presidents.