John Michael Hancock – known universally as Jake within the geological community – was born on 10 August 1928 in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on which basis he always regarded himself as a countryman. Childhood in Salisbury was followed by secondary education at Dauntsey’s School, Market Lavington, where, unusually, he was able to take Higher Schools Geology. Richard St. John Lambert (1928–1992, later to become a distinguished Precambrian worker and isotope geologist) was a fellow pupil, and, following National Service in 1947–1949, the two went up to Cambridge together to read geology. Hancock was an undergraduate at Queens’ College, gaining a B.A....

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