Skip to main content

Carpenter, William Benjamin, 1813-1885



William Benjamin was an English physician, invertebrate zoologist and physiologist. He was instrumental in the early stages of the unified University of London.

He attended lectures at Bristol Medical School, later studied at University College London (1834–35), and then went to the University of Edinburgh (1835–39), where he received his MD in 1839. He was elected as a member to the American Philosophical Society in 1845. In 1871, he received an LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

His work in comparative neurology was recognised in 1844 by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was appointed as Fullerian Professor of Physiology at the Royal Institution in 1845.

He did valuable research in marine zoology, notably in the lower organisms, such as Foraminifera and Crinoids. These researches gave an impetus to deep-sea exploration and led Carpenter alongside the naturalist C. W. Thomson to lead the exploration missions of HMS Lightning and HMS Porcupine in northern Scotland from 1868 to 1870. The analysis of the physical observations made during these first cruises allowed Carpenter to sketch a new theory of the global ocean circulation, which differed in several points from the pioneering theory of the hydrographer M. Maury. Based on the context of the time including the development of underwater telegraphy, Carpenter was the main architect in convincing both the Admiralty and the British government to undertake a large-scale oceanographic expedition in order to extend observations on a global scale. These efforts led to the HMS Challenger circumnavigation from 1872 to 1876 which was the first major oceanographic expedition.

Found in 4 Collections and/or Records:

John C. Warren papers

Identifier: VPA 116
Scope and Contents The collection consists of materials relating to the mastodon specimen bought by the museum from Dr. Warren's family in 1906. It consists of papers and illustrations. copies of correspondence between Warren and other researchers copies of pages from the Visitors' Book from the Warren Museum in Boston copy of a letter from Dr. Matthew sent to Frederic Augustus Lucas...
Dates: 1831-1963; 1968-1970; Majority of material found in 1831-1906

William Benjamin Carpenter African expedition field photographs

Identifier: PPC .C32
Scope and Contents

Field photographs of the African expedition.

Dates: 1936

William Benjamin Carpenter Eozzon Canadaense photograph

Identifier: PPC .C33
Scope and Contents

Torn out excerpt from a journal with one photograph.

Dates: 1867

William Benjamin Carpenter Libyan desert field photographs

Identifier: PPC .C321
Scope and Contents

Field photographs in the desert, mainly of camels, expedition members, and encampments.

Dates: 1938

Additional filters:

Photographic Print Collection 3
Fossils -- Catalogs and collections 1
Mammals, Fossil -- New York (State) -- Newburg -- Pictorial works 1
Mastodons -- New York (State) -- Newburg -- Pictorial works 1
Vertebrates, Fossil 1