1845 - 1937
Walter Howchin was born in Norwich, England on January 12, 1845. His father was a Methodist minister and he also became one and was ordained in 1864. Howchin had an early interest in Geology and, while posted at various parishes, studied the local Northumberland geology. In 1876 he collaborated with H.B. Brady in a monograph on Carboniferous and Permian foraminifera. In 1978 Howchin became a fellow of the Geological Society of London.
For medical reasons (probably tuberculosis) Howchin emigrated in 1881 to Australia to recover. He was elected to the Royal Society of South Australia in 1883 publishing in their Transactions seventy seven, mostly geological, papers including the first on South Australian Cretaceous foraminifera.
Howchin was a lecturer in mineralogy at the Adelaide school of mines between 1899 and 1904. In 1902 he was appointed lecturer in geology and paleontology at the University of Adelaide. In 1918 he was appointed an honorary professor. After his retirement in 1920, Howchin continued his work in geology including frequent field work searching for specimens. For much of his career Howchin worked closely with another internationally respected geologist, Sir Edgeworth David.
Howchin helped lay the foundation of the stratigraphy of southern Australia. He described the extent of the two great glaciations and clearly defined the stratigraphic sequence of the Adelaide geosynclines. Howchin authored two textbooks, The Geography of South Australia in 1909 and, in 1918, The Geology of South Australia (which remained in print for several decades).
In 1907 Howchin was awarded the Clarke medal by the Royal Society of New South Wales and in 1913 the Ferdinand von Mueller medal by the Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science. He was the first recipient of the Royal Society of South Australia’s Verco medal in 1929. And in 1934 Howchin was awarded the Lyell medal by the Geological Society of London.
Howchin died November 28, 1937 in Adelaide. He left his collection of foraminifera and literature to the South Australian Museum.
Australian Dictionary of Biography
The University of Adelaide