The Society was founded in 1807. It was partly the outcome of a previous club known as the Askesian society, and among the more prominent founders were William Babington, Humphry Davy and George Greenough. It received its Royal Charter in 1825 from George IV.
In 1831 it began issuing an annual scientific award for geology, known as the Wollaston Medal.
Since 1874 the Society has been based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. It is a member of the Science Council.