Charles Darwin awarded Royal Society's Copley Medal
Darwin was awarded the Copley Medal; the highest honor bestowed by the Royal Society.
Busk and Falconer, both members of the X-Club, nominated him. Awarding the Copley Medal to Darwin caused much anger among the older Fellows of the Society, most of whom wanted Adam Sedgwick to get the award. It was agreed upon to give Darwin the medal, but only if it was explicitly stated that his "Origin of Species" book was not a contributing factor in their decision. Awarding the Copley Medal to Darwin was a sign of how influential the X-Club had become in Royal Society politics. Darwin was naturally very pleased. As was suspected, the Church of England was not at all happy with this turn of events.
Lobbying brought Darwin Britain's highest scientific honour, the Royal Society’s Copley Medal, awarded on 3 November 1864. That day, Huxley held the first meeting of what became the influential X Club devoted to "science, pure and free, untrammelled by religious dogmas". By the end of the decade most scientists agreed that evolution occurred, but only a minority supported Darwin's view that the chief mechanism was natural selection.
The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society of London for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science, and alternates between the physical sciences and the biological sciences". Awarded every year, the medal is the oldest Royal Society medal still being awarded, having first been given in 1731 to Stephen Gray, who received it for "his new Electrical Experiments: - as an encouragement to him for the readiness he has always shown in obliging the Society with his discoveries and improvements in this part of Natural Knowledge". The medal was created following a donation of £100 to be used for carrying out experiments by Sir Godgery Copley, for which the interest on the amount was used for several years. The conditions for the medal have been changed several of times; in 1736, it was suggested that "a medal or other honorary prize should be bestowed on the person whose experiment should be best approved", and this remained the rule until 1831, when the conditions were changed so that the medal would be awarded to the researcher that the Royal Society Council decided most deserved it. A second donation of £1666 13s. 4d. was made by Sir Joseph William Copley in 1881, and the interest from that amount is used to pay for the medal. The medal in its current format is made of silver gilt and awarded with a £5000 prize.
Since its inception, the medal has been awarded to a number of notable scientists, including 52 winners of the Nobel Prize: 17 in Physics, 21 in Physiology or Medicine, and 14 in Chemistry. These include Frederick Sanger, who was awarded the Copley Medal in 1977 "[i]n recognition of his distinguished work on the chemical structure of proteins and his studies on the sequences of nucleic acids" and is one of four people to have won multiple Nobel Prizes, having won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1958 and 1980. John Theophilus Desaguliers has won the medal the most often, in 1734, 1736 and 1741. The medal was most recently awarded to Roger Penrose in 2008 "for his beautiful and original insights into many areas of mathematics and mathematical physics. Sir Roger has made outstanding contributions to general relativity theory and cosmology, most notably for his work on black holes and the Big Bang."