Sir Richard Vyvyan, 8th Baronet

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Sir Richard Vyvyan

Personal details
Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan

6 June 1800
Trelowarren, Cornwall
Died15 August 1879(1879-08-15) (aged 79)
Resting place Mawgan-in-Meneage, Cornwall [1]
Political party Tory/Ultra-Tory
Spouse(s)not married
Childrenno issue
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
ProfessionScientist, politician

Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, 8th Baronet (6 June 1800 15 August 1879) was an English landowner and Tory politician who sat in the House of Commons variously between 1825 and 1857.



Vyvyan was born at Trelowarren, Cornwall, the son of Sir Vyell Vyvyan, 7th Baronet and his wife Mary Hutton Rawlinson, daughter of Thomas Hutton Rawlinson of Lancaster. He was educated at Harrow School and at Christ Church, Oxford but did not take a degree. In 1820, he succeeded to the baronetcy and Vyvyan family estates on the death of his father. He became a lieutenant-colonel commandant in the Cornwall yeomanry cavalry on 5 September 1820.

On his death his estate consisted of 9,738 acres (3,941 ha) in twenty-five Cornish parishes with a rent roll of £18,147. [1] He left no issue and his successor was Sir Vyell Donnithorne Vyvyan, 9th Baronet (1826–1917)

Political career

In 1825, Vyvyan was elected Member of Parliament for Cornwall. [2] He held the seat until 1831. From 1831 he represented Okehampton, [3] but upon the passage of the Reform Act 1832, he moved to Bristol, serving until 1837. [4] He later served as Member for Helston from 1841 until 1857. [5] Vyvyan was High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1840.

Scientific work

In 1826, Vyvyan was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for his "considerable literary and scientific acquirements especially in the Philosophy of Natural History", [6] previously having been a Fellow of the Geological Society. [6] He was also the patron of Charles Thomas Pearce, who he initially employed as his secretary in about 1843, and with whom he undertook “researches on light, heat, and magnetism of the Moon’s rays” over a period of years. Between 1846 and 1848, they shared a house built by Decimus Burton in London's Regent’s Park, called St. Dunstan’s Villa.


Vyvyan was an advocate of Lamarckian evolution and transmutation of species. He was erroneously suspected of writing Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation until he denied authorship. [7] Historian of science Pietro Corsi has written that Vyvyan "endorsed a quasi-Lamarckian transformation of species, together with phrenology and a broadly evolutionary cosmology." [8]

Scientific writings

He also published several letters and speeches. His letter ‘to the magistrates of Berkshire on their practice of ‘consigning prisoners to solitary confinement before trial, and ordering them to be disguised by masks,’ passed into a second edition in 1845. His account of the fogou or cave at Halligey, Trelowarren, is in the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall (1885, viii. 256–8).

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  1. 1 2 "Funeral Of The Late Sir R R Vyvyan, Bart., Of Trelowarren". The Cornishman (59). 28 August 1879. p. 4.
  2. Leigh Rayment Commons constituencies beginning with C part 6
  3. Leigh Rayment Commons constituencies beginning with O
  4. Leigh Rayment Commons constituencies beginning with B Part 6
  5. Leigh Rayment Commons constituencies beginning with H part 2
  6. 1 2 "Fellow: Vyvyan; Sir; Richard Rawlinson (1800 - 1879)". Royal Society. 1826.
  7. Secord, James A. (1994). Introduction. In Robert Chambers. Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation and Other Evolutionary Writings. University of Chicago Press. p. 41. ISBN   0-226-10073-1
  8. Corsi, Pietro. (2005). Before Darwin: Transformist Concepts in European Natural History. Journal of the History of Biology (2005) 38: 67–83.

Further reading

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir William Lemon, 1st Baronet
John Hearle Tremayne
Member of Parliament for Cornwall
With: John Hearle Tremayne 18251826
Edward William Wynne Pendarves 18261831
Succeeded by
Edward William Wynne Pendarves
Sir Charles Lemon
Preceded by
William Henry Trant
John Thomas Hope
Member of Parliament for Okehampton
With: John Thomas Hope
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
James Evan Baillie
Edward Davis Protheroe
Member of Parliament for Bristol
With: James Evan Baillie 18321835
Philip John Miles 18321837
Succeeded by
Philip William Skinner Miles
Francis Henry Fitzhardinge Berkeley
Preceded by
John Basset
Member of Parliament for Helston
Succeeded by
Charles Trueman
Baronetage of England
Preceded by
Vyell Vyvyan
(of Trelowarren)
Succeeded by
Vyell Donnithorne Vyvyan