Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Daintree, Richard

1197713Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 13 — Daintree, Richard1888Robert Hunt

DAINTREE, RICHARD (1831–1878), geologist, was born at Hemingford Abbotts, Huntingdonshire, in December 1831. He was educated at the Bedford grammar school and at Christ's College, Cambridge. Suffering from delicate health in his younger days, he was recommended to try the effects of a voyage to Australia. He sailed for Melbourne, and landed there towards the end of 1852. Having a taste for scientific pursuits, he was brought into contact with Mr. A. R. C. Selwyn, the government geologist of Victoria. This acquaintance led to his being chosen by Mr. Selwyn as his assistant in 1854.

In 1856 Daintree returned to England and entered as a student in Dr. Percy's laboratory in the Royal School of Mines, in which he worked from November 1856 to May 1857. He was a zealous student, became an efficient assayer and a fairly good practical chemist, and at the same time learned photography, which he found of great use to him in his future geological surveys. In August 1857 Daintree returned to Melbourne, and in 1858 he was appointed field geologist on the geological survey of Victoria, which had been established on a firm basis by the energy of the director, Mr. A. R. C. Selwyn, and he actively worked on that survey for seven years. He commenced his work in the Western port district, especially directing his attention to the Cape Paterson coal formation. He explored the Bass river, and underwent severe privation in penetrating the dense scrubs of that district.

In 1864 Daintree resigned his position on the Victorian survey, and entered into pastoral pursuits on the river Clarke, Burdekin river, North Queensland. About this period he made an examination of the New South Wales coalfield, and studied the order of the modes of occurrence of gold in the rocks. After which he communicated to the Geological Society of London his views on the origin of these auriferous deposits. In 1869 Daintree was appointed government geologist for North Queensland. During the three years between 1869 and 1871 he examined large areas in North Queensland, including the Gilbert and Etheridge rivers and the Ravenswood district, which has since proved to be highly auriferous. In 1872 the Queensland government appointed Daintree special commissioner to the London exhibition, and in consequence he left the colony. He was appointed agent-general to the colony of Queensland in March 1872. He held that post until 1878, when he was compelled to resign it by failing health. On his retirement he was made C.M.G. A constant recurrence of intermittent fever, contracted while working out the geology of the goldfields of Queensland, led him to spend the winters of 1876 and 1877 at Mentone. He died in England on 20 June 1878.

Daintree's explorations in Australia added considerably to our knowledge of the coalfields of New South Wales, and of the auriferous deposits of the extensive colony of Queensland. Daintree's work on the geology of that colony was so complete, and was regarded by the government as so useful, that they contributed largely to the cost of its production and publication.

[Quarterly Journal of Geological Society, xiv. 1858, xxxv. 1872, &c.; Daintree's Notes on the Geology of the Colony of Queensland; Lectures on Gold, delivered at the Museum of Practical Geology, 1853; Etheridge's Description of the Palæozoic and Mesozoic Fossils of Queensland, 1872.]

R. H-t.