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Martin Lister.
Plate from Historiae Conchyliorum (1691).
Martin Lister (c. 1638, Radclivemarker, Englandmarker - 2 February 1712, Epsommarker), English naturalist and physician, was born at Radclive, near Buckinghammarker. He was the son of Sir Martin Lister and Susan Temple. He was connected to a number of well known individuals. He was the nephew of both James Temple, the regicide and also of Sir Matthew Lister, physician to Anne, queen of James I, and to Charles I. He was also a cousin of Sarah Jennings.

He was educated at St John's College, Cambridgemarker, 1655, graduated in 1658/9, and was elected a fellow in 1660. He became F.R.S. in 1671. He practised medicine at Yorkmarker until 1683, when he removed to Londonmarker. In 1684 he received the degree of M.D. at Oxfordmarker, and in 1687 became F.R.C.P.

He contributed numerous articles on natural history, medicine and antiquities to the Philosophical Transactions. His principal works were Historiae animalium Angliae tres tractatus (1678); Historiae Conchyliorum (1685 1692), and Conchyliorum Bivalvium (1696). As a conchologist he was held in high esteem, but while he recognized the similarity of fossil mollusca to living forms, he regarded them as inorganic imitations produced in the rocks.

In 1683 he communicated to the Royal Society (Phil. Trans., 1684), an ingenious proposal for a new sort of maps of countries; together with tables of sands and clays, such as are chiefly found in the north parts of England. In this essay he suggested the preparation of a soil or mineral map of the country, and thereby is justly credited with being the first to realize the importance of a geological survey. He died at Epsom on 2 February 1712. .

The ridge Dorsa Lister on the Moon was named after him.

See also

Historiae animalium, by Conrad Gesner


  • Dr. Martin Lister: A bibliography by Geoffrey Keynes. (Includes illustrations by Lister's wife and daughter).


  1. This article incorporates text from the Encyclopedia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain
  2. Published by St Paul's Bibliographies (UK) with an ISBN 0 906795 04 4

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