21st August 1835

Mapmaking geologist John MacCulloch died

Guernsey-born John MacCulloch is credited with introducing the word “malaria” into the English language.

His lengthy essay on the illness didn’t entirely pin the blame on mosquitos. He wrote, “this is the unseen, and still unknown poison to which Italy applies the term that I have borrowed, Malaria”.

He described it as an “unknown agent of disease [to which] the term marsh miasma has been applied” because it was common among the “lower orders” of people – likely to work the land – in “France, Italy, Holland and elsewhere, and not less known to at least our own rural population… since every labourer in Lincolnshire or Essex believes that his ague is the produce of the fens”.

However, aside from that addition to the English language, his greatest contribution to our understanding of the world around us was his surveying and map-making.

A life on the mainland

As his name would suggest, MacCulloch was half Scottish. The rest of him was Sarnian, but he didn’t spend much of his life on Guernsey. After qualifying as a medical doctor in Edinburgh, he joined the Geological Society of London. He also taught at the Royal Military Academy.

In 1811, aged 38, he wrote a paper on the geological structure of Guernsey. The subject matter hinted at the field of interest which would consume much of the rest of his life.

He moved to Scotland to perform a wide range of geological surveys and experiments. There, he produced an extensive “Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, including the Isle of Man”.

In 1826 the government contracted him to draw up a geological map of Scotland. This task consumed every summer from them until his death in 1835. Although he completed the task just before he died, it wasn’t published until the following year.

He was 61 when he died in hospital in Cornwall, having broken his leg on his honeymoon. The leg had had to be amputated and he succumbed a few days later.


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Other events that occured in August

The Saumarez Memorial foundation stone was laid 1st
Guernsey won double-silver at the Commonwealth Games 2nd
Earl Grey was appointed Governor of Guernsey 3rd
A boy scout fell 250ft over a Torteval Cliff 4th
Jethou tenant was rescued from an up-turned boat 5th
A tomato ship and a tanker collided 6th
Human remains were found on Lihou 7th
The Beatles played at Candie Gardens 8th
The RAF bombed Guernsey Airport 9th
Guernesiais linguist Marie de Garis died 10th
Alderney experienced a total eclipse of the sun 11th
A minister was found dead at Icart Point 12th
Guernsey steam tramway is granted its concession 13th
Police found a bomb in Bluebell Wood 14th
Hanois Lighthouse’s foundation stone was laid 15th
Charlie Chaplin played in St Peter Port 16th
St Peter Port inundated with fish 17th
A royal visit… of sorts
The Rolling Stones played St Peter Port 18th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was published 19th
Archaeologist Crystal Bennet was born 20th
Mapmaking geologist John MacCulloch died 21st
St Sampson pensioner was buried in a landslide 22nd
Trident VI ran aground on its return from Herm 23rd
Queen Victoria visited Guernsey 24th
The post-Occupation military government was disbanded 25th
Wesleyans celebrated 100 years on Guernsey 26th
Oliver Reed was jailed in Guernsey 27th
Guernsey’s Reform Law was enacted 28th
Winston Churchill visited Guernsey with his wife 29th
Philip de Saumarez was discharged as a Jurat 30th
Jersey swimmers set a round-Guernsey record 31st