The quality and richness of Perthshire's natural environment were formative influences on a young James Croll (1821–1890), which left him with a life-long appreciation of nature, landscape and natural meditation. Although Croll himself declares to have had little interest in geology in his earlier years, it became a central theme of his scientific understanding, which implies the clear influence of both his local environment and of his father David, a stonemason. His family and friends also shaped him in other ways, not least his love of reading, his unconstrained thinking and intellectual acuity. He inherited his father's moral character, amiability and an excitement about intellectual inquiry, which drew friends to him who made great efforts to assist him in his work, both personally and professionally, and played a role in his being offered a position by James Geikie with the Geological Survey of Scotland. Croll's financial position was often precarious; he spent a good deal of his life in relative poverty. Whilst this affected his opportunities for formal learning, it may well have led to his ability to think creatively and to seek answers more broadly than he might have if he had been able to engage in a more formal education. Ill health, which affected him throughout his life, could be seen to both hamper his work – but also through circumstance lead him to pursue a more academic path, as other routes of work were shut off to him. Ultimately Whitefield, Wolfhill and the wider Perthshire countryside in which he grew up can clearly be seen to have influenced his life in many ways, even, perhaps, to the extent of his chosen surname.