HALL, SIR JAMES (1761–1832), Scottish geologist and physicist, eldest son of Sir John Hall, Bart., was born at Dunglass on the 17th of January 1761; and became distinguished as the first to establish experimental research as an aid to geological investigation. He was intimately acquainted with James Hutton and John Playfair, and having studied rocks in various parts of Europe he was eventually led to accept and to demonstrate the truth of Hutton’s views with regard to intrusive rocks. He commenced a series of experiments to illustrate the fusion of rocks, their vitreous and crystalline characters, and the influence of molten rocks in altering adjacent strata. He thus assisted in proving that granitic veins had been injected into overlying deposits after their consolidation. He studied the volcanic rocks in Italy and recognized that the old lava flows and the numerous dikes in Scotland must have had a similar origin. He made further experiments to illustrate the contortions of rocks. The results were brought before the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He died at Edinburgh on the 23rd of June 1832. He represented in parliament (1807–1812) the old borough of Michael in Cornwall; he also wrote an Essay on the Origin, History and Principles of Gothic Architecture (1813).
His eldest son, John Hall (1787–1860), who succeeded him, was a Fellow of the Royal Society; the second son, Captain Basil Hall (q.v.), was the distinguished traveller; the third son, James Hall (1800–1854), was a painter, art-patron, and a friend of Sir David Wilkie.