JR Mortimer Obituary


BORN* 1825. DIED 1911.

BY the death of John Robert Mortimer the geologists of East Yorkshire lose one of the few remaining members of their ' old guard'. Though the chief scientific work of his life was done in the domain of archaeology, culminating five years ago in the publication of his great work entitled Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, Mr. Mortimer likewise rendered notable service to geology by his writings and, above all, by bringing together the unrivalled collection of fossils from the Chalk of the Yorkshire Wolds, now housed in the private museum that he built at Driffield. 

Mortimer was born in the Wold village of Fimber, and dwelt there until manhood, when he shifted his residence to Driffield, a few miles distant, where the rest of his life was spent, and where he died, on August 19 last, at the ripe age of 86 years. When a child he was of delicate health ; indeed, throughout life his health was never robust, but he was endowed with a tough vitality, mental energy, and an indomitable spirit which carried him through many troubles and remained with him up to the last. So lately as the present year he sent a paper to be read at the British Association meeting at Portsmouth, on  "The Stature, etc., of our Ancestors in East Yorkshire". His business of corn merchant and maltster brought him in contact with all  the people of  the countryside, so  that when  anything rare or curious was unearthed he soon had news of it. By  this means and by his long-continued excavations of  the barrows and other prehistoric burial-places, he was enabled to accumulate a store of archaeological material which is of peculiar value as a strictly localized record of  t he early races  t h at inhabited  the district.

During  the years of his middle life Mortimer regularly attended the meetings of  the British Association. He contributed papers on the Yorkshire Chalk to  the Geological Society in 1869, 1875, and 1876, and  to  the Geologists' Association in 1877 and 1890. He also published several geological papers in  the Proceedings of  the Yorkshire Geological (and Polytechnic) Society. A complete bibliography of his writings is contained in an illustrated sketch of his life by Mr. T. Sheppard,  F.G.S., which appeared in  the Naturalist for last May (No. 652).

His wife, a daughter of  the Rev. T Mitchell, vicar of Sancton and Holme-on-the-Wolds, died six years ago. They had a family of six children, five of whom survive  them.

Mr. Mortimer was a man of impressive personality—tall,  lithe, active in all his movements, and until a few months before his death almost untouched by age. His kindliness and his energy endeared him  to all his numerous friends, and he has left a lasting memory in t he district for which he had such a loyal affection. .

G. W. L.

Geological Magazine Vol 8 Issue 10

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1911