John Herman Merivale was born on the 19th of May 1851 at the Cloisters, Westminster. His father was Charles Merivale, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons, later Dean of Ely and a classical scholar and author. Merivale was educated at Felsted and Winchester schools and then in 1871 became the first student at the College of Physical Science in Newcastle. He served his apprenticeship as a mining engineer at the South Hetton and Murton Collieries in County Durham. After completing this he took control of mining properties belonging to Lord Carlisle and was also appointed manager at Netherton Colliery.
Merivale developed an interest in teaching and lectured on mining subjects for night-schools at different colliery villages and between 1878 and 1880 lectured for the Mechanics’ Institute in Newcastle. In 1880 he was appointed to the newly established Chair of Mining at the College of Physical Science. He was awarded an honorary MA from Durham University in 1884.
Merivale became a partner with his father-in-law J.R. Liddell at the Broomhill Coal Company and became agent when the latter died in 1895, resigning his Chair at the same time. He was involved in trade appointments, such as arbitrations and strike awards and was called to give his services at the great Whitehaven disaster in 1910 and was one of the five mining referees in connection with the 1909/1910 Finance Act.
He was elected as a member of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers in 1877, was a member of Council for 40 years, Vice-President from 1899 to 1906, President from 1906 to 1908 and Honorary Secretary and then Secretary from 1908 until his death in 1916.
He gave papers to the Institute, compiled a book, Notes and formulae for mining students, and for many years edited the Colliery manager’s pocket book.
Merivale died at home in Togston, Northumberland on the 18th November 1916 and was buried in Amble churchyard.
(These notes are based mainly on the memoir by Judith Merivale and others in Transactions – Institution of Mining Engineers 54 1916-17, 364-366)