Portlock, Joseph Ellison
PORTLOCK, JOSEPH ELLISON (1794-1864), British geologist and soldier, the only son of Nathaniel Portlock, captain in the Royal Navy, was born at Gosport on the 30th of September 1794. Educated at the Royal Military Academy he entered the Royal Engineers in 1813. In 1814 he took part in the frontier operations in Canada. In 1824 he was selected by Colonel (afterwards Major-General) T. F. Colby (1784-1852) to take part in Ordnance Survey of Ireland. He was engaged for several years in the trigonometrical branch, and subsequently compiled information on the physical aspects, geology and economic products of Ireland. In 1837 he formed at Belfast a geological and statistical office, a museum for geological and zoological specimens, and a laboratory for the examination of soils. The work was then carried on by Portlock as the geological branch of the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, and the chief results were embodied in his Report on the Geology of the County of Londonderry and of parts of Tyrone and Fermanagh (1843), an elaborate and well-illustrated volume in which he was assisted by Thomas Oldham. After serving in Corfu and at Portsmouth he was, in 1849, appointed Commanding Royal Engineer at Cork, and from 1851-1856 he was Inspector of Studies at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. For a short time commanding officer at Dover, when the Council of Military Education was formed in 1857 he was selected as a member.
During these years of active service he contributed numerous geological papers to the scientific societies of Dublin and to the British Association. He published in 1848 a useful treatise on geology in Weale's " Rudimentary Series" (3rd. td., 1853). He was president of the geological section of the British Association at Belfast (1852), and of the Geological Society of London (1856-1858). He wrote a Memoir of the late MajorGeneral Colby, with a Sketch of the Origin and Progress of the Trigonometrical Survey (reprinted in 1869 from Papers on Subjects connected with the Royal Engineers, vols. iii.-v.). He also contributed several articles on military subjects to the 8th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1837. He died in Dublin on the 14th of February 1864.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)