Valentine Ball

Valentine Ball (14 July 1843 15 June 1895) was an Irish geologist, son of Robert Ball (1802-1857) and a brother of Sir Robert Ball. Ball worked in India for twenty years before returning to take up a position in Ireland.

Valentine was the second son of Robert Ball and was born in Dublin. He received his early education at Chester and later at the private schools of Dr. Henry and Dr. Benson at Dublin. He then went to the University of Dublin obtaining a B.A. in 1864, M.A. in 1872 and LL.D. in 1889. He was elected Fellow of the Geological Society of London in 1874.[1]

Ball joined the Geological Survey of India in 1864 and served until 1881. He also contributed to studies in ornithology and anthropology.[2] He was made a Fellow of the Calcutta University in 1875. His expertise on central India where he had explored for coal-fields also led to his advice being sought for the alignment of the railway line to be laid between Bombay and Calcutta. Returning to Ireland in 1881, he became professor of geology and mineralogy at the University of Dublin. In 1883 he became director of the Dublin Science and Art Museum, now the National Museum of Ireland. He was a secretary of the Royal Geological Society.[1]

He was a regular contributor to Stray Feathers, the ornithological journal founded by Allan Octavian Hume. The Andaman scops owl (Otus balli) was named after him by Hume. His writings included Jungle-Life in India (1880), The Diamonds, Coal, and Gold of India (1881), The Economic Geology of India (1881), translation of Tavernier's Travels in India (1889) and numerous notes to the journals.[1]

Ball married the eldest daughter of John Stewart Moore, of Moyarget, Antrim in 1869 and had four children.[1] Two of his daughters, Maude Mary Ball and Ethel Gresley Ball were artists.[3]


  • Ball, V. 1874. On the avifauna of the Chutia, Nagpur Division S. W. frontier of Bengal. Stray Feathers 2: 355 440.
  • Ball, V. 1877. Notes on birds observed in the region between Mahanadi and Godavari rivers. Stray Feathers 5: 410-420
  • Ball, V. 1878. From Ganges to the Godaveri, on the distribution of birds. Stray Feathers 7: 191 235.
  • Ball, Valentine (1880). Jungle life in India. Thomas de la Rue & Co. London.
  • Ball, V. 1881. The Diamonds, Coal and Gold of India. scanned
  • Ball, V. 1885. On the identification of the animals and plants of India which were known to early Greek authors. The Indian Antiquary. 14:274-287, 303-311, 334-341.


  1. Anonymous (1895). "Obituary—Prof. Valentine Ball, C.B.". Geological Magazine. 2 (8): 382–383. doi:10.1017/S0016756800123386.
  2. Ball, V. "The ethnology of Indian races". The Irish builder. 21 (461): 73–74.
  3. "Miss Maude Mary Ball". Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951. Retrieved 2018-11-16.
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