- John Ball (naturalist)
He was born in
Dublin, and educated at Oscott Collegenear Birmingham, and at Christ's College, Cambridge. He showed in early years a taste for natural science, particularly botany; and after leaving Cambridgehe travelled in Switzerlandand elsewhere in Europe, studying his favourite pursuits, and contributing papers on botany and the Swiss glaciers to scientific periodicals.
In 1846 he was made an assistant poor-law commissioner, but resigned in 1847, and in 1848 stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate for Sligo. In 1849 he was appointed second poor-law commissioner, but resigned in 1852 and successfully contested the Carlow County constituency in the Liberal interest. In the
British House of Commonshe attracted Lord Palmerston's attention by his abilities, and in 1855 was made Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, a post which he held for two years.
At the colonial office he had great influence in furthering the cause of natural science, particularly in connection with equipment of the
Palliser Expeditionin Canada(for his efforts, the Ball Rangein the Canadian Rockieswas named after him), and with William Jackson Hooker's efforts to obtain a systematic knowledge of the colonial floras.
In 1858 he stood for County Limerick, but was beaten, and he then gave up politics and devoted himself to natural history. He was first president of the Alpine Club (founded 1857), and it is for his work as an Alpinist that he is chiefly remembered, his well-known "Alpine Guide" (
London, 1863 - 1868) being the result of innumerable climbs and journeys and of careful observation recorded in a clear and often entertaining style. He also travelled in Morocco(1871) and South America(1882), and recorded his observations in books which were recognized as having a scientific value. [Tyndall pages 169,352,380,406 "veined ice of glacier, if unweathered, shows no tendency to cleave"] He died in London.
*cite book| title=The Glaciers of the Alps| author=John Tyndall| date=1896
publisher=Longmans, Green and Co.| url=http://www.archive.org/details/glaciersalpsbeing00tyndrich NEW EDITION
*Gordon L. Herries Davies, ‘Ball, John (1818–1889)’, [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/1217 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography] , Oxford University Press, 2004
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