Politically within the society, the mid-18th century featured a " Whig supremacy" as the so-called "Hardwicke Circle" of Whig-leaning scientists held the society's main Offices. Named after Lord Hardwicke , the group's members included Daniel Wray and Thomas Birch and was most prominent in the 1750s and '60s. The circle had Birch elected secretary and, following the resignation of Martin Folkes , the circle helped oversee a smooth transition to the presidency of Earl Macclesfield , whom Hardwicke helped elect.  Under Macclesfield, the circle reached its "zenith", with members such as Lord Willoughby and Birch serving as vice-president and secretary respectively. The circle also influenced goings-on in other learned societies, such as the Society of Antiquaries of London . After Macclesfield's retirement, the circle had Lord Morton elected in 1764 and Sir John Pringle elected in 1772.  By this point, the previous Whig "majority" had been reduced to a "faction", with Birch and Willoughby no longer involved, and the circle declined in the same time frame as the political party did in British politics under George III , falling apart in the 1780s. 
Robert was born in Cape Town, and played a part in the anti-apartheid student movement in the 1960s. Educated in law at the University of Cape Town, he went on to study Political Science at the University of Manchester. From 1967 to 1976, he taught at the newly founded University of Zambia in Lusaka. Following his return to the UK, he moved into publishing and became the Managing Editor of Zed Books which focused on developing countries, in particular giving a voice to local, socially committed public intellectuals and people's movements in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Latin America. He is a trustee of the International African Institute and serves on the Council of the Caine Prize for African Writing. He also spends much time involved in a range of environmental issues, notably climate change.
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IN MEMORIAM Dr KG Tregonning MBE (1923-2015)