Hull, Edward (1829–1917), geologist, was born 21 May 1829 in Antrim town, eldest son of John Dawson Hull, a Church of Ireland curate; no details are known of his mother. He was educated at TCD (BA 1850), and in 1850 he joined the geological survey on the recommendation of Thomas Oldham (qv) and was trained by Joseph Beete Jukes (qv) in north Wales. He carried out geological mapping in Cheshire, Wiltshire, and Gloucestershire, and on the south Lancashire coalfield. By 1867 he had been promoted to district surveyor in the geological survey of Scotland, and was in effect second-in-command.
Two years later (1869), following the death of Jukes he was appointed local director of the geological survey of Ireland. However, Hull's twenty-one-year period of tenure was not particularly easy, and he was often in open conflict with his senior geologist, the fiery-tempered George Henry Kinahan (qv). His interpretation of the geological age of the Old Red Sandstone strata in Munster also proved controversial, in that he decided they were older than did his survey colleagues – in this he was proved incorrect. However, he did oversee the publication of the one-inch-to-one-mile geological maps for the whole of the island. For much of his directorship he also served as professor of geology in the Royal College of Science for Ireland. He undertook geological expeditions to Hungary (1873) and the USA (1890); but he is most closely associated with the Palestine Exploration Fund, under whose auspices he visited Palestine and Sinai (1883–4), accompanied by Horatio Herbert Kitchener (qv).
Hull published a number of books including The coal-fields of Great Britain: their history, structure, and duration (1861; 5th ed. 1905); A treatise on the building and ornamental stones of Great Britain and foreign countries (1872); The physical geology and geography of Ireland (1878; 2nd ed. 1891); Contributions to the physical history of the British Isles. With a dissertation on the origin of western Europe, and of the Atlantic Ocean (1882); and Monograph on the sub-oceanic physiography of the north Atlantic Ocean (1912). The last two were important early examples of studies on oceanic geology, a field now of great economic importance, but in Hull's period a new and novel research subject. He also penned an autobiography, Reminiscences of a strenuous life (1910). He was elected FRS (1867), was conferred with an honorary LLD by the University of Glasgow (1879), and received the Murchison medal of the Geological Society of London (1890). On his retirement from the geological survey of Ireland, Hull moved in 1891 to London, where from 1900 he was secretary to the Victoria Institute. He died 18 October 1917 at his home in London.
He married (1857) Mary Catherine Henrietta Cooke of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England; they had two sons and four daughters. One of his daughters was Eleanor Henrietta Hull (qv), founder of the Irish Texts Society and sometime president of the Irish Literary Society of London.