the Society

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society is a charity whose purpose is ‘To promote the advancement of science, literature and the arts in the City of Leeds and elsewhere, and to hold, give or provide for meetings, lectures, classes, and entertainments of a scientific, literary or artistic nature.’

The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, founded in 1819, is today a registered charity dedicated to promoting the advancement of science, literature and the arts in the City of Leeds. To this end it makes grants and provides a range of lectures and other cultural activities.The Society is keenly interested in cultural developments in Leeds and the region, and is constantly looking for new ways to further its aims.

Our title dates back to the time of our foundation in 1819, when the word Philosophical meant Scientific. Our logo shows Minerva the Roman Goddess of Wisdom.


Members of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society enjoy a number of benefits. These normally include:

  • a free copy of the Society’s Annual Review
  • free or reduced-rate copies of other publications supported financially by the Society
  • invitations to special events arranged for members
  • information about the lectures, concerts and other cultural activities supported by the Society
  • an invitation to the dinner and lecture which follow the Annual General Meeting


We are now delighted to offer either Full or Associate membership:

1) The annual subscription for Full membership is £25, due on 1st October each year. New members of the Society who join after 1st April are not required to pay a further subscription until October of the following calendar year.

2) Associate Membership is available for those aged 18 to 25 for which there is a registration fee of £5.
Communication with Associate Members is solely by email.

To enquire about membership, please e-mail the Treasurer at:


Our History


One of the most enduring contributions the Phil and Lit has made to Leeds was its museum, which still forms a significant part of the City Museum collection today. It included outstanding collections of Roman sculpture, ancient coins, geological and botanical specimens from across the world, and rare animal skeletons, as well unique items like the mummy of Nesyamun and the snarling Bengal tiger, still favourites. From the opening of Philosophical Hall in 1821 enthusiastic members had tracked down, bought, and donated a huge variety of objects – a celebration of wealth, travel in distant lands, interest in other cultures, and the desire to explore and understand the natural world. The Society’s dedicated curators classified and labelled them, put them on display, and preserved them for future generations. In 1921, a hundred years after its foundation, the Society transferred Philosophical Hall and its entire collection to the Council to provide a public museum for the city. Today the Society continues to provide grants to support the museum service.

Click here to read an excellent blog piece by Russell Croft about the City Museum and the Leeds Mummy



The Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society Ltd is a registered charity, registration number 224084, and is a company limited by guarantee, company number 177204. It is governed by its memorandum and articles of association adopted 2 July 1997, replacing the memorandum and articles of 1921.

The Society’s postal address is: c/o Leeds City Museum, Cookridge Street, Leeds LS2 8BH.

The Society is managed by a Council of up to fifteen unpaid trustees, who act both as directors for Companies Act purposes and trustees for Charities Act purposes. A third of the fifteen Council members retire by rotation at every Annual General Meeting, when new trustees can be proposed. The officers of the Society, all of whom are trustees, are the President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. The officers are elected by and from the Council every year. The bulk of the Society’s annual income derives from its investments.

Officers of the council

List of Presidents

  • 1820-26 JOHN MARSHALL
  • 1826-28 REV. W. H. BATHURST, M.A.
  • 1828-31 MICHAEL THOS. SADLER, M.P.
  • 1831-33 WILLIAM HEY
  • 1833-35 JAMES WILLIAMSON, M.D.
  • 1835-37 REV. JOSEPH HOLMES, M.A.
  • 1840-42 ADAM HUNTER, M.D.
  • 1842-45 JOHN HOPE SHAW
  • 1850-51 WILLIAM WEST, F.R.S.
  • 1854-57 JOHN HOPE SHAW
  • 1858-59 REV. W. F. HOOK, D.D.
  • 1859-61 REV. ALFRED BARRY, M.A.
  • 1861-63 THOS. PRIDGIN TEALE, F.R.S.
  • 1863-66 REV. THOS. HINCKS, B.A.
  • 1866-68 CHARLES CHADWICK, M.D.
  • 1868-72 JOHN DEAKIN HEATON, M.D.
  • 1872-74 REV. CANON WOODFORD, D.D.
  • 1874-76 J. I. IKIN, F.R.C.S.
  • 1876-78 REV. J. H. McCHEANE, M.A.
  • 1878-81 T. CLIFFORD ALLBUTT, M.D., F.R.S.
  • 1881-83 REV. JOHN GOTT, D.D.
  • 1883-85 J. E. EDDISON, M.D.
  • 1885-86 EDWARD ATKINSON, F.L.S.
  • 1886-89 THOMAS MARSHALL, M.A.
  • 1889-92 THOS. PRIDGIN TEALE, M.A., F.R.S.
  • 1892-94 REV. J. H. D. MATTHEWS, M.A.
  • 1896-98 EDMUND WILSON, F.S.A.
  • 1898-1900 NATHAN BODINGTON, M.A., Litt.D.
  • 1900-02 J. H. WICKSTEED, President Inst.M.E.
  • 1902-04 ARTHUR SMITHELLS, B.Sc., F.R.S.
  • 1904-06 J. E. EDDISON, M.D.
  • 1906-09 E. KITSON CLARK, M.A., F.S.A., M.Inst.C.E.
  • 1909-11 REV. J. R. WYNNE-EDWARDS, M.A.
  • 1911-12 C. T. WHITMELL, M.A., B.Sc., F.R.A.S.
  • 1912-14 P. F. KENDALL, M.Sc., F.G.S.
  • 1914-17 REV. W. H. DRAPER, M.A.
  • 1917-19 JAMES E. BEDFORD, F.G.S.
  • 1919-22 SYDNEY D. KITSON, M.A., F.S.A., F.R.I.B.A.
  • 1922-24 ARTHUR J. GRANT, M.A.
  • 1924-26 WALTER GARSTANG, M.A., D.Sc., F.Z.S.
  • 1928-30 F. W. BRANSON, F.I.C.
  • 1930-32 E. O. DODGSON
  • 1932-34 A. GILLIGAN, D.Sc., F.G.S.
  • 1934-36 R. WHIDDINGTON, M.A., D.Sc., F.R.S.
  • 1936-39 HUGH R. LUPTON, M.C., M.A.
  • 1939-46 W. M. EDWARDS, M.C., M.A.
  • 1946-48 E. A. SPAUL, D.Sc., Ph.D.
  • 1948-50 W. L. ANDREWS
  • 1950-52 J. N. TETLEY, D.S.O., LL.D.
  • 1952-54 TERRY THOMAS, M.A., LL.D., B.Sc., Ph.D.
  • 1954-56 H. C. VERSEY, D.Sc., F.G.S.,
  • 1956-58 H. S. VICK, J.P.
  • 1958-60 H. ORTON, M.A., B.Litt.
  • 1960-62 SIR GEORGE MARTIN, LL.D., J.P.
  • 1962-64 E. J. WOOD, M.A.
  • 1964-66 R. D. PRESTON, D.Sc., F.R.S., F.Inst.P.
  • 1966-68 J. LE PATOUREL, M.A., D.Phil.
  • 1968-70 G. P. MEREDITH, M.Sc., M.Ed., Ph.D.
  • 1970-72 J. G. WILSON, M.A., Ph.D., F.Inst.P.
  • 1972-74 J. TAYLOR, M.A.
  • 1974-76 H. HENSON, D.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.E.S.
  • 1976-78 P. R. J. BURCH, M.A., Ph.D.
  • 1978-81 R. REED, M.Sc., Ph.D
  • 1983-85 B. R. HARTLEY, M.A., F.S.A.
  • 1985-87 D. COX, B.A., A.L.A.
  • 1987-89 B. COLVILLE, M.B., B.S., F.R.C.G.P.
  • 1989-91 I. S. MOXON, M.A., B.A.
  • 1991-93 R. F. M. BYRN, M.A., Ph.D.
  • 1993-95 MRS J. E. MORTIMER, B.A.
  • 1995-97 A. C. CHADWICK, B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc., C.Biol., F.I.Biol., F.R.G.S.
  • 1997-99 O. S. PICKERING, B.A., B.Phil., Ph.D., Dip.Lib.
  • 1999-03 P. J. EVENNETT, B.Sc., Ph.D., Hon. F.R.M.S.
  • 2004-06 M. R. D. SEAWARD, M.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc., F.L.S.
  • 2007-09 C. J. HATTON, B.Sc., Ph.D., C.Phys., F.Inst.P.
  • 2010-13 A. C. T. NORTH, B.Sc., Ph.D., C.Phys., F.Inst.P.
  • 2014-16 J. M. HILL B.A., D.Phil., D.Univ., F.E.A., F.R.S.A.
  • 2016-20 C. J. HATTON, B.Sc., Ph.D., C.Phys., F.Inst.P.
  • 2020- G.E. Blair, B.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.S.B., F.L.S.