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Many authors choose to present the history of a complex subject by breaking it up into major threads and following the history of each thread separately.I have chosen instead to provide a chronology of significant works and their authors with a view to providing a sense of how perspectives on Geology changed over time.In the 1700's belief in a 6000 year old Earth crumbled.Attempts to calculate the age of the Earth from physical considerations yielded estimates that ranged from 75,000 years (Buffon, 1774) to several billion years (de Maillet, Buffon).Descartes, however, attempted to discern a physical history of the Earth.His account was plausible by the immature standards of the Science of his times; however it quite definitely did not match the Biblical account of a completed creation in six days.Notable observations included: ran from about 1780-1850.
During the early part of this period there was a considerable amount of activity by runs from AD 1850 to the present.
The selections and comments here are not a complete exposition of the works of the authors mentioned; rather they were chosen to illustrate and exemplify changing perspectives over time.
In Europe the issue of the age of the Earth was not a serious one prior to the rise of science; the history of the Earth was assumed to be accounted for in Genesis.
The catastrophists (Cuvier 1812, de Beaumont 1852, Buckland 1836) accepted that the Earth was old; they disagreed with the kind of change and the rate of change that had occurred over that long history.
There was no single estimate of the Earth's age in the mid 1800's and no good way to arrive at one.