When Sir John Lubbock died in May 1913, his estate included a seemingly eclectic assortment of prehistoric stone tools and ethnographic artefacts displayed on the walls of his home at High Elms and hidden away in storage. However, detailed analysis of the history of this collection reveals a fascinating story of a man inspired by Darwin and like-minded evolutionary thinkers, who became one of the most important intellectuals in Victorian Britain to examine the controversial subject of human evolution. Six acquisitions are used in this article to explore how Lubbock began as Darwin's friend and scientific apprentice and became an international champion for the study of prehistory and the protection of prehistoric ancient monuments.
In 1865 John Lubbock (figure 1) published the first edition of his major work on prehistory, Pre-historic Times, which included the following short passage in the final chapter:
Thus, then the most sanguine hopes for the future are justified by the whole experience of the past. It is surely unreasonable to suppose that a process which has been going on for so many thousand years should have now suddenly ceased. … The great principle of Natural Selection which in animals affects the body and seems to have little influence on the mind, in man affects the mind and has little influence on the body. In the first it tends mainly to the preservation of life; in the second to the improvement of the mind and consequently to the increase of happiness. …
The future happiness of our race, which poets hardly ventured to hope for, science boldly predicts. Utopia, which we have long looked upon as synonymous with an evident impossibility, which we have ungratefully regarded as ‘too good to be true’, turns out on the contrary to be the necessary consequence of natural laws, and once more we find that the simple truth exceeds the most brilliant flights of the imagination.1
This powerfully optimistic statement, with its explicit reference to ‘Natural Selection’, reveals the overtly Darwinian inspiration at the centre of Lubbock's wider social, economic and political values: values that drove his passion for and interest in prehistory.
Two small catalogue notebooks reside within Bromley Museum and describe the acquisition by Lubbock of a collection containing more than 1000 archaeological and ethnographic artefacts during his lifetime. Many of these objects are now housed at Bromley Museum and the British Museum. Unpublished Lubbock correspondence and diaries held at the British Library, combined with the archives of fellow collectors and scientists, reveal significant insights. Through this evidence, one can explore the collecting process and the meaning of the collection as a whole.2 It was created during the period 1863–1913, and it contains representative examples from key European prehistoric sites, and prehistoric archaeological and ethnographic material from across the globe. Equally significant is the fact that the collection described in these catalogues does not include artefacts falling outside this definition.
An analysis of the number of collecting events by year and by acquisition method demonstrates how Lubbock's interest in acquiring prehistoric and ethnographic artefacts focused primarily on the decade immediately after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species3 in 1859 (figure 2).4 The theory of natural selection described by Darwin identified a credible mechanism for biological transmutation that required a long Earth history, and final abandonment of the existing Christian framework for science, which allowed only 6000 years. Darwin had not addressed the sensitive question of human evolution in the Origin.5 However, during the 1860s Lubbock, and the wider Darwinist community6 of which he was part, set about making their controversial case for human biological, cultural and social evolution over a long timeframe. Lubbock was particularly interested in the evidence for the social and cultural evolution of humans, and the first and second editions of Pre-historic Times7 (1865 and 1869) were his main contribution to this debate. His active collecting of prehistoric archaeological and ethnographic material during the 1860s is no coincidence. His growing collections provided an underpinning research base and evidence for reference in his publications.8 G. Stocking suggests that by the mid 1870s ‘certain major issues had been settled: the antiquity and descent of man, his ultimate monogenetic origin, and the progressive character of the growth of civilization.’9 This may account for the decline in Lubbock's collecting profile after the 1860s, and Stocking has suggested that Lubbock largely withdrew from the anthropological scene after the mid 1870s.10
The collection profile (figure 2), together with the explicit reference to natural selection made in Pre-historic Times, make a strong case for concluding that Lubbock's sojourn into prehistory was directly motivated by his wider Darwinist interests and his participation in the great intellectual debate about human evolution in the 1860s.11 This paper draws upon the unique historical perspective provided by the collections to examine this relationship in further detail, focusing on six specific collecting events.
The Tierra del Fuego harpoon
In 1864 Darwin gave Lubbock a bone harpoon from Tierra del Fuego for his new collection, as a mark of friendship nurtured over many years.12 A year later, Lubbock probably used this artefact to help illustrate his ideas on human evolution in Pre-historic Times (figure 3).13 They first met in 1842, when Darwin was 33 years old and Lubbock only 8. This was the year that Darwin and his young family moved into Down House, the property adjoining High Elms, where the Lubbocks lived. Lubbock, whose father was both a city banker and a well-known scientist, was the eldest son in a liberal-minded and well-connected banking family. Despite this background, Lubbock left formal education and began working full time in the family bank from the age of 14 years, and his father also had less interest in natural history. Within six years of meeting, Darwin had taken this curious young lad with a love of insects under his intellectual wing and Lubbock quickly became Darwin's scientific apprentice. Lubbock was an open book to Darwin's exciting world view; this influence was reflected in the way in which Lubbock developed interests in geology, botany, zoology and entomology over the next few years. Darwin placed great emphasis on the importance of detailed evidence, and Lubbock learnt method and observation from Darwin as well as the skills of microscopic dissection. Darwin encouraged Lubbock's father to buy his son a microscope:14 ‘He induced my father to give me a microscope, he let me do drawings for some of his books, and I greatly enjoyed my talks and walks with him.’15 In 1848 Lubbock began the ‘General Notebook of Natural History’ in which he made various observations and sketches, among which was a discussion about the races of man.16
During the 1850s Lubbock began researching scientific material Darwin had collected on the HMS Beagle voyage, and we can assume perhaps that his master taught him from experience about the importance of specimens, and the process of collecting and recording. Darwin acted as Lubbock's scientific mentor, introducing him to influential scientists, including Charles Lyell, Joseph Dalton Hooker and Thomas Huxley. He also began to share his controversial ideas on transmutation, and Lubbock was increasingly convinced: ‘When the ladies were gone to bed Charles Henry Strickland and I had a discussion on the mutability of species, and I believe we all agreed that it seemed probable that they might change into one another.’17
By the time that Origin18 was published in November 1859, Darwin regarded Lubbock as an important young convert to his ideas on evolution by natural selection:
I forget whether I told you that Hooker, who is our best British botanist & perhaps in World, is a full convert, & is now immediately going to publish his confession of Faith … Huxley is changed & believes in mutation of species; whether a convert to us, I do not quite know. We shall live to see all the younger men converts. My neighbour & excellent naturalist J. Lubbock is enthusiastic convert.19
In the same year Lubbock and fellow transmutationists began to make connections between Origin20 and a little known discovery in northern France made in the 1840s. On 26 May Lubbock read a paper about insects on behalf of an absentee contributor at the Royal Society. At the same meeting, Joseph Prestwich, a geologist, also presented a paper on ancient flint implements found in undisturbed deposits at St Acheul in the Somme valley, alongside the remains of now extinct elephant and rhinoceros. Prestwich and his antiquarian colleague, John Evans, had brought back implements of human manufacture for study, accompanied by photographs showing these very same artefacts in situ before they were removed from the ground.21 A new dimension to the evolutionary debate began to take shape, one that was to draw Lubbock into the world of human evolution, stone tools and prehistoric archaeology.
The Wilhelm Boye collection
In the summer of 1863, wooden crates arrived at Lubbock's home in Kent, packed with a collection of more than 100 prehistoric and ethnographic artefacts from Denmark and Greenland. The assemblage had been purchased by Japetus Steenstrup, Professor of Zoology at the University of Copenhagen, on Lubbock's behalf. Lubbock had met Steenstrup two years before on his first visit to Denmark with a fellow Darwinist, George Busk. Steenstrup was a long-standing correspondent of Darwin's and had spent many years working with archaeologists to study the prehistoric kitchen-midden sites22 dotted across the Danish landscape. Lubbock had travelled to Denmark to see these archaeological sites and their associated artefacts at first hand, and he was impressed by the country's research into its prehistory. He had also been inspired by the collections of Danish stone antiquities for sale in Copenhagen. Influenced by his years of apprenticeship with Darwin and by the flint implements being discovered at St Acheul and at British sites, Lubbock realized they provided evidence that could be studied and compared with other assemblages from Britain and further afield. Steenstrup was asked to look out for any such collections that he might acquire.
The resulting 1863 acquisition had originally been collected by a young Danish archaeologist, Wilhelm Boye, who worked at the National Museet in Copenhagen. From 1855 he accumulated prehistoric stone, bone and pottery finds from excavations and stray discoveries made across Denmark, including those found by workers digging drainage ditches. These Danish artefacts were accompanied by a small selection of ethnographic Inuit material sourced from Greenland, which Boye acquired for comparative purposes. Boye had also kept a catalogue notebook containing further information about finds, all of which were individually numbered, and he meticulously copied his notes into English to accompany the artefacts for Lubbock. Steenstrup instructed: ‘A catalogue of your collection written by the former owner, Mr. Boie, is in my hands. Knowing now, that we shall have the pleasure of seeing you soon, I think it must [be] that the catalogue rests here waiting your arrival, and our mutual conversation about its contents.’23
Steenstrup's letter refers to a second visit that Lubbock made to Denmark in July 1863, at the same time as the crates containing Boye's collection were sent by sea in the opposite direction. Steenstrup gave Lubbock a small, plain notebook with no title page or cover and of unremarkable appearance that listed and described each of the objects Lubbock had acquired, supplemented by occasional sketches of find locations. On his return home, Lubbock began using this notebook to record other prehistoric items he collected during his Scandinavian trip. The handwriting in the catalogue changed from Boye's scrawl to his own more rounded style, and as he continued the numbering system started by Boye, his prehistoric archaeological and ethnographic collection came into being.
The Hallstatt bucket
Some of the Danish crates arriving at Lubbock's home in 1863 were immediately redirected to the residence of John Evans at Nash Mills in Hertfordshire. Lubbock purchased the Boye collection in partnership with Evans, the antiquarian who had visited St Acheul with Prestwich in 1859. After the presentation by Prestwich to the Royal Society in 1859, Lubbock had accompanied the next excursion to northern France in April 1860, in the company of Prestwich, Busk and Sir Douglas Galton. He returned in 1862 with Prestwich and Evans, and soon developed a close friendship with Evans, centred on their shared interest in prehistory and collecting. They travelled in Europe together on several occasions in the 1860s to visit, for example, the cave sites of the Dordogne. In 1866 they jointly commissioned an excavation project at the Iron Age cemetery near Hallstatt, Austria, after visiting the site on one of these trips. During the late 1860s this project generated a significant quantity of finds for their personal collections, with some items being donated immediately to the British Museum. One of these finds was an ornately decorated bronze bucket24 dating to ca. 500 b.c. (now on display at the British Museum), which Lubbock kept at High Elms during his lifetime and his son donated to the national collection in 1916 after his father's death.
Lubbock developed many personal professional relationships within the Darwinist community during the early 1860s. He became a member of the exclusive X Club in November 1864, alongside Huxley, Busk, Hooker, Herbert Spencer and John Tyndall, among others. He was also at the heart of a more informal ‘Lubbock–Evans’ network of reforming archaeologists and ethnographers, which included Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers and Augustus Wollaston Franks.25 Although their interests and specific ideas varied, they stood side by side in the battle for human evolution. The Royal Society was one of several establishment organizations that felt their collective influence. They regarded the Society as a dangerously conservative organization under the leadership of its elderly president, Edward Sabine. During the 1860s and 1870s they worked together to transform it into a forward-thinking, professional and re-energized scientific body.26 Throughout the 1860s members of this grouping sat on the Council, with their successful nominations seeming to take place in planned rotation. In the early 1870s the death of the long-standing treasurer created an opportunity for change that the X Club and Evans grasped. By 1873, Hooker was elected President, Huxley as Secretary, Spottiswoode as Treasurer and Lubbock as a Vice President. Evans was elected to the Council. Hooker served a five-year term as President and was replaced in succession by Spottiswoode in 1878 and Huxley in 1883.27
Lubbock's prehistoric archaeology interests and collecting activities were a recurring theme in these emerging associations.28 His immediate circle of Darwinist friends was a major source of items for his collections. Evans, Hooker, Busk, Franks and Pitt-Rivers accounted for 39 of 400 total collecting transactions.29
The Le Moustier handaxe
On 27 March 1864 a small party of English visitors, including Lubbock and Evans, travelled along the Vézère valley in the Dordogne region of France from the village of Les Eyzies to a small rock shelter called ‘Le Moustier’. Lubbock acquired a small collection of ‘rude implements’, including a handaxe that one year later he made significant reference to in Pre-historic Times.30
This published monograph, inspired by his scientific friendships and collecting activities, represents Lubbock's primary public contribution to the debate on human evolution. It was one of the most influential books on prehistory in the nineteenth century and brought together earlier work that had previously been presented by Lubbock as individual papers to learned societies. These included articles on the Scandinavian and Scottish kitchen-middens, the flint implements of the Somme valley and other drift deposits, Neolithic Swiss lake villages and the cave sites of southern France. He expanded this work on prehistory with discussion on the lives of (in his words) ‘modern savages’. He connected all of these thoughts and made sense of them within an overtly political and optimistic interpretation of Darwinism, natural selection and progress.
His collections, and those of others such as Evans, had a key role in this book, providing evidence upon which his theories of human evolution and progress were grounded. His comparative analysis of collected specimens, supported by contextual evidence from prehistoric sites and ethnographic communities, led him to divide prehistory into ‘4 great epochs’ by introducing the idea of the Palaeolithic:
Firstly that of the Drift; when man shared the possession of Europe with the Mammoth, the Cave Bear, the woolly-haired rhinoceros, and other extinct animals. This we may call the ‘Palaeolithic’ Period.
Secondly the later or polished Stone age. … This we may call the ‘Neolithic’ Period.
Thirdly the Bronze age, in which bronze was used for arms and cutting instruments of all kinds.
Fourthly the Iron Age, in which that metal had superseded bronze for arms, axes, knives, etc; bronze, however, still being in common use for ornaments.31
The second edition (1869) of Pre-historic Times represented a substantial revision from the first edition (1865), reflecting significant further research and evidence gathering being undertaken by Lubbock during that period.32 In terms of his own collection, he made 32 text and illustration references in the first edition, and 55 in the second, when he was able to draw from a mature and confident research collection containing more than 870 objects.33 In the second edition Lubbock also made a specific point of identifying the location of items illustrated, including those belonging to his collection.34 More than 42% of his collection was acquired during these five years (1865–69), and a further 21% in the three years immediately afterwards. This intensity of collecting, at the same point in his life when he was actively writing about human antiquity, is no coincidence. Lubbock was conscientiously building up a personal scientific reference collection through purchase, fieldwork and donation from friends and contacts to support his research.
Correspondents from across the globe, who had read the first edition of Pre-historic Times with its reference to his collection, sent him material to assist his work. George Augustus Robinson was one such individual. He had spent almost 30 years of his life in Australia, motivated by a personal mission to protect and educate local aboriginal communities. He had returned to Europe in 1852, and in 1859 he settled in Bath. In January 1866, the year of his death, Robinson sent Lubbock two pieces of wood of the type used as fire sticks by Tasmanian aborigines, the Palawa.35 They had been given to him by ‘his … friends’36 many years before and he had kept them as a souvenir of a community and culture now on the verge of extinction. Robinson suggested that Lubbock describe the Palawa process of fire-making in the second edition of ‘your excellent work, Pre-historic Times’, because he was afraid that otherwise the practice might go unrecognized by ‘White Society’.37 Robinson died a few months after writing this letter, but he might have been proud to know that anyone reading the second and subsequent editions of Lubbock's work could see illustrations of these two pieces of wood, accompanied by a brief commentary on fire-making in Tasmanian aboriginal society.
It was during this period that Lubbock's collection came of age, reflecting the role of Pre-historic Times as an international scientific gospel. By the early 1870s this book was one of a pantheon of texts on human biological and cultural evolution informed by the debate galvanized by Darwin's publication of the theory of natural selection in 1859. It sat on the bookshelf alongside Lubbock's other work, On the Origin of Civilisation,38 and the publications of Lyell,39 Huxley,40 Edward Burnett Tylor,41 Evans42 and Darwin himself.43 Although ‘there was virtually no governmental consciousness of any serious need for anthropology either at home or abroad’,44 this was a body of work and thinking that began to influence the political, social and economic agendas of British domestic and foreign policy.45
The ‘Esquimaux knife’
On 18 July 1866 Lubbock purchased several Esquimaux artefacts from the Arctic collection of Richard Shingleton,46 auctioned by Crispe and Dracott at their saleroom in Croydon, south of London. On the same day, a local Croydon gentleman, named John Wickham Flower, who was a Fellow of the Geological Society and a collector with an interest in the antiquity of man, also presented Lubbock with an ‘Esquimaux knife’ from the Shingleton Collection that he had presumably acquired at the same auction.47 During the late 1860s Lubbock actively bought a considerable number of artefacts for his collection, particularly ethnographic material that he increasingly used for comparative purposes.48
In 1865 Lubbock wrote in Pre-historic Times:
If we wish to clearly understand the antiquities of Europe, we must compare them with the rude implements and weapons still, or until lately, used by the savage races in other parts of the world. In fact, the Van Diemaner and South American are to the antiquary what the opossum and the sloth are to the geologist.49
The Inuit and Alaskan Eskimo communities of the Arctic region held a special place in Lubbock's work. Nearly 23 pages and 10 illustrations are dedicated to their story,50 compared, for example, with 12 illustrations in total for the rest of the ethnographic sections. Of the 14 ethnographic items from his own collection referred to in the second edition, seven are both referenced and illustrated within the ‘Esquimaux’ section. The stone knife donated by Flower is the subject of Figure 214.51 Given the cost of illustration, this investment is perhaps a sign of their value and importance to Lubbock in presenting his case. The Inuit and Eskimo stone arrowheads, knives and spearheads within Lubbock's collection, which were manufactured by a pressure-flaking technique, seemed to be almost identical to the prehistoric stone artefacts discovered, for example, in the caves of southern France, accompanied by the remains of tundra species including reindeer: ‘So far, then, as the present evidence relating to the Dordogne caves is concerned, it appears to indicate a race of men living almost as some of the Esquimaux do now.’52
Lubbock's arguments regarding cultural evolution and the value of using ethnographic comparison to understand past societies are firmly rooted in his Darwinist assumptions regarding ‘the unity of the human race’,53 that ‘slow and gradual changes … still take place’,54 and that the ‘principal varieties of man are of great antiquity’.55 Lubbock's idea that natural selection applied to the human mind rather than to human biology56 encouraged him to develop an interest in widening access to learning and knowledge as a means of aiding progress towards civilization. He became actively involved in programmes that sought to give working men an elementary scientific and wider education. He joined Huxley on a tour of the working-class slums of Liverpool during the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in 1870, and joined him in becoming involved in the Working Men's Institutes. Lubbock was elected as an MP in 1870, and as part of a hectic schedule he set himself at Westminster he championed education reform and the establishment of public libraries. He supported the development of public museums that told stories of utopian progress through the use of objects and methods of communication that did not require the visitor to be able to read or write. As a Trustee at the British Museum, he proposed that the museum open in the evening for working people to visit, a proposal that was agreed.57
A review of his collecting activities suggests that Lubbock's work may also have helped influence policy-makers overseas representing Britain's global empire.58 Some colonial readers of Pre-historic Times were motivated enough by its contents to start sending Lubbock material for his collection.59 These readers included influential decision-makers, such as Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere, a career colonial administrator. Lubbock first came into contact with Frere in 1874, when he received a box of flints from the Sind region of the Indian subcontinent sent by Sir William Merewether on Frere's behalf.60 Frere wrote to Lubbock and explained how they had been found in low limestone hills near the city of Sukkur. He had first observed these strange shaped flints 25 years previously but had assumed that they were natural until he saw Pre-historic Times and realized they were of human manufacture.61 Three years later, Frere was appointed High Commissioner for South Africa. His wife, Lady Catherine Frere, wrote to Lubbock from Government House on 20 November 1877 to warn him to expect ‘a curious baked earth bushman pot’ that she had sent with Captain Penfold on behalf of her husband. Penfold left it at the Royal Society for Lubbock to collect just in time for Christmas.62
In January 1879 Frere commanded Lord Chelmsford to march on the Zulu army with 5000 men. So began the infamous Zulu War at the Battle of Isandhlwana, in which 20 000 Zulu defeated an army of less than 2000 British soldiers, leaving only 400 alive. The Victorian novelist and traveller, Anthony Trollope, dined with Frere when he visited South Africa in 1877.63 Three months after the start of the Zulu War, in April 1879, Trollope wrote to an Australian colonial administrator, strongly hinting that motives other than defence played a part in Frere's conduct: ‘Frere … is a man who thinks it is England's duty to carry English civilization and English Christianity among all the Savages. … The consequence is that we have already slaughtered 10,000 of them, and rejoice in having done so. To me it seems like civilization gone mad!’64 There would have been many factors influencing why Frere chose to act in the way he did, but his ongoing interest in Pre-historic Times and Lubbock's collection suggests in some small way that both reinforced wider imperialist perspectives that led to the tragic Zulu War of 1879.
The Avebury stone circle
In October 1871 Lubbock began to acquire the prehistoric stone circle at Avebury in Wiltshire (figure 4). He purchased a meadow that had been put on the market for development, containing a few stones and part of the bank and ditch. In contrast to the rest of his collection, the stones at Avebury could not be held in the hand: they were more than 3 m tall and tons in weight. However, they represented important scientific evidence for the debate about human cultural evolution, and it was vital that they were preserved and protected from continued destruction:
At a Committee meeting of the above Society [Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society] I had the honour of moving that ‘a special vote of our most cordial thanks be offered to Sir John Lubbock, who with a public spirit above all praise and the true love of Archaeology for which he is notorious, came forward at the right moment to rescue the Great Circle at Avebury from the profanations with which it was threatened.’ I need hardly say that this motion was heartily agreed to.65
I have bought part of Abury to prevent it being cut up for building . … I am very glad to possess part of Abury.66
Lubbock's active personal involvement in protecting the prehistoric monuments of Wiltshire began with his first visit to Stonehenge on 22 June 1862. From the very first, he was ‘delighted’ with it. He became embroiled in discussion with James Fergusson regarding the age of Stonehenge and Silbury Hill, making the case for their prehistoric origins in opposition to Fergusson's view that they were Roman in date.67
As early as February 1863 Lubbock had written to Steenstrup in Denmark about his desire to provide legal protection for (in his own words but with my emphasis) ‘our most interesting monuments of prehistoric times’. His crusade began in earnest one year after he had bought part of Avebury and two years after he was elected a Liberal MP for Maidstone in Kent. By late 1872 he had prepared his first draft Private Members' Bill for the protection of prehistoric ancient monuments: ‘The archaeologists of this Country are very anxious to stop if possible the continual destruction of Prehistoric Monuments, and at last we have agreed on a Bill and Schedule which has met with general support.’68 After many attempts, revisions and animated Parliamentary debates during the following decade, the proposed legislation finally received government support from the newly elected Gladstone government, and in 1882 the protection of listed prehistoric monuments was made into law. Not only did Lubbock and his supporters have to win the intellectual argument that these monuments were an essential part of the scientific story of human antiquity in Britain, he also needed to persuade his parliamentary peers that they were worthy of public investment and protection over the private interests of landed gentry.69
His motivation for securing ancient monuments legislation for prehistoric sites was, from the outset, influenced by his Darwinist interest in prehistory and human evolution, and not from a general antiquarian perspective. Carman70 writes convincingly that the exclusion of medieval monuments from the Bill was not just a practical tactic designed to ensure its passage through the Commons; it also gave prehistoric archaeology ultimate legal status, setting it apart from, and reinforcing, its significance over the ‘non-scientific’ antiquarian field of medieval studies. Avebury, Stonehenge and Silbury Hill were specimens for study and iconic symbols for prehistory: major pieces of evidence for the laws of cultural, social and economic progress that Lubbock espoused both in Pre-historic Times and in his wider political career.
His central role in the introduction of the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882, by which the state recognized the importance of prehistoric sites as evidence requiring national protection, was possibly one of Lubbock's greatest Darwinist achievements.
A first glance at Lubbock's diverse interests and collections might suggest that Lubbock was a Victorian polymath with antiquarian interests in archaeology and ethnography. However, a detailed study of his work and collecting reveals a man whose systematic interest in prehistory was inspired by a vision for social and cultural progress, rooted in his liberal family upbringing and heavily influenced by his scientific associations with Darwin and the wider Darwinist community. If Darwin and Lubbock had not been friends and neighbours, perhaps Lubbock would never have developed such a keen interest in human evolution, purchased Avebury and Silbury Hill, nor spent more than a decade in Parliament championing the protection of ancient monuments. Understanding the role of Lubbock in the development of prehistoric archaeology as a discipline in the late nineteenth century is therefore of immense value to historians of both science and archaeology. The personal historic collections created during the Victorian period, and now housed in our museums, represent an important resource for study that can encourage the cross-disciplinary thinking required to shed new perspectives on well-documented histories.
Thanks are due to all those who have helped me in researching John Lubbock's collections over the past 25 years. I am particularly grateful to the British Museum, Bromley Museum, the University of Durham, the University of Leicester, the University of Cambridge, the British Library, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, the Ashmolean Museum, Bodleian Library, Pitt Rivers Museum, the Danish State Archives, the University of Lund, the National Museum of Denmark, the Royal Library, Copenhagen, and the Lubbock family. This paper is based on PhD research undertaken at the University of Durham that was published by Pen & Sword Books in 2013 entitled Darwin's apprentice: an archaeological biography of John Lubbock.
↵1 J. Lubbock, Pre-historic Times, 1st edn (Williams & Norgate, London, 1865), pp. 491–492.
↵2 J. Owen, ‘The collecting activities of Sir John Lubbock, 1834–1913’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (University of Durham, 2000).
↵3 C. Darwin, On the Origin of Species …, 1st edn (John Murray, London, 1859).
↵4 Owen, op. cit. (note 2), pp. 155–161; a ‘collecting event’ is defined as a single act of collecting, such as a field trip or purchase from a shop or catalogue. It may account for only a single catalogue entry or for several.
↵5 Darwin, op. cit. (note 3).
↵6 The ‘Darwinist community’ is defined for the purposes of this article as a particular grouping within the scientific and intellectual community that participated to varying degrees in a sociocultural evolution discourse concerned with monogenesis and descent by modification; and which valued scientific empiricism, liberalism, professionalism and the separation of science from traditional religious dogma. Members of this grouping included Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Joseph Dalton Hooker, John Tyndall, Herbert Spencer, Charles Lyell, George Busk, John Evans, Joseph Prestwich, Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, Augustus Franks and Alfred Russel Wallace.
↵7 Lubbock, op. cit. (note 1); J. Lubbock, Pre-historic Times, 2nd edn (Williams & Norgate, London, 1869).
↵8 J. Owen, ‘The collections of Sir John Lubbock, First Lord Avebury (1834–1913): an open book?’, J. Mater. Cult. 283–302 (1999).
↵9 G. Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (Free Press, Macmillan, New York, 1987), p. 258.
↵10 Stocking, op. cit. (note 9).
↵11 Owen, op. cit. (note 8).
↵12 Avebury Catalogue, vol. 1, no. 277, Bromley Museum.
↵13 Figure 156 in the first edition of Pre-historic Times ‘represents the head of a Fuegian harpoon, which closely resembles the ancient Danish specimen figured in page 80’; Lubbock, op. cit. (note 1), p. 436. The harpoon used is likely to have been the specimen donated by Charles Darwin in 1864, because the illustration appears from the first edition of Pre-historic Times and a note in the second edition confirms it to be of an item in John Lubbock's collection. The only Fuegian harpoon in the collection by 1865 was the item donated by Charles Darwin.
↵14 Probably the microscope donated by the Lubbock family to Down House, the home of Charles Darwin, where it is now on display.
↵15 H. Hutchinson, Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury, 1st edn (Macmillan & Co., London, 1914), p. 23.
↵16 General Notebook of Natural History by John Lubbock, p. 93, Down House, English Heritage.
↵17 John Lubbock diary entry dated 22 September 1853, British Library MS Add 62679.
↵18 Darwin, op. cit. (note 3).
↵19 Letter from Charles Darwin to Alfred Russel Wallace, 6 April 1859, in The correspondence of Charles Darwin (ed. F. Burkhardt and S. Smith), vol. 7 (1858–1859), 1st edn, pp. 279–280 (Cambridge University Press, 1991).
↵20 Darwin, op. cit. (note 3).
↵21 C. Gamble and R. Kruszynski, ‘John Evans, Joseph Prestwich and the stone that shattered the time barrier’, Antiquity 83, 461–475 (2009).
↵22 Shell heaps also consisting of animal bone, stone tools and waste flakes and other evidence associated with the domestic waste of prehistoric human societies.
↵23 Draft letter from Japetus Steenstrup to John Lubbock, undated , Copenhagen Royal Library NKS 3460; letter from Japetus Steenstrup to John Lubbock, 21 June 1863, British Library MS Add 49640 71-72.
↵24 Likely to be part of a mixed group listed in the Avebury Catalogue: ‘772 A collection of things from Hallstatt May 1869’, British Museum accession no. 1916.6-5.356.
↵25 R. Barton, ‘The X Club: science, religion and social change in Victorian England’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis (University of Pennsylvania, 1976); W. Chapman, ‘The organisational context in the history of archaeology: Pitt-Rivers and other British archaeologists in the 18860s’, Antiquaries J. 69, 23–42 (1989); J. Owen, Darwin's apprentice: an archaeological biography of John Lubbock (Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley, 2013), pp. 32–54; J. Owen, ‘A significant friendship: Evans, Lubbock and a Darwinian world order’, in Sir John Evans 1823–1908 (ed. A. MacGregor), pp. 206–229 (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2008); Owen, op. cit. (note 2), pp. 175–190 and 219–230.
↵26 Opp. cit. (note 25).
↵27 Owen, Darwin's apprentice, op. cit. (note 25), pp. 45–47.
↵28 Opp. cit. (note 25).
↵29 Owen, Darwin's apprentice, op. cit. (note 25), p. 50.
↵30 Lubbock, op. cit. (note 1), pp. 251–253.
↵31 Ibid., pp. 2–3.
↵32 Lubbock, opp. cit. (notes 1 and 7).
↵33 Owen, op. cit. (note 2), pp. 201–205.
↵34 Lubbock, op. cit. (note 7), pp. xix–xxvii.
↵35 Avebury Catalogue, vol. 2, no. 643, Bromley Museum.
↵36 Letter from George Augustus Robinson to John Lubbock, 29 January 1866, British Library MS Add 49677.
↵38 J. Lubbock, On the Origin of Civilisation and Primitive Condition of Man, 1st edn (London, Longman & Co., 1870): a book that focused on the ethnographic evidence for cultural evolution without making significant reference to prehistory or his collections.
↵39 C. Lyell, Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man, 1st edn (J. M. Dent & Son, London, 1863).
↵40 T. Huxley, Man's Place in Nature, 1st edn (Macmillan, London, 1863).
↵41 E. Burnett Tylor, Researches into the Early History of Mankind and the Development of Civilisation, 1st edn (John Murray, London, 1865); E. Burnett Tylor, Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Language, Art and Custom, 1st edn (John Murray, London, 1871).
↵42 J. Evans, The Ancient Stone Implements, Weapons and Ornaments of Great Britain, 1st edn (Longman & Co., London, 1872).
↵43 C. Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1st edn (John Murray, London, 1871).
↵44 Stocking, op. cit. (note 9), p. 266.
↵45 J. Owen, ‘Collecting artefacts, acquiring empire: exploring the relationship between Enlightenment and Darwinist collecting and late nineteenth-century British imperialism’, J. Hist. Collect. 18, 9–25 (2006); Stocking, op. cit. (note 9), p. 266.
↵46 Richard Shingleton had served as the gunroom steward on the Royal Navy's HMS Enterprise when she set sail in 1850 in search of the missing Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin. He was also a member of the crew that Lady Franklin privately commissioned to return to the Arctic on her yacht, the Fox, in 1857, in search of her husband.
↵47 ‘A Catalogue of a valuable and highly interesting ARCTIC COLLECTION, made by the late Mr. Shingleton, during the voyages of the Investigator, Enterprise and Fox in search of Sir John Franklin’, British Library MS Add 49677-10; Avebury Catalogue, vol. 1, nos 416–428, Bromley Museum.
↵48 Owen, op. cit. (note 27), pp. 65–68 and 74–92.
↵49 J. Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, 7th edn (Williams & Norgate, London, 1913), p. 430.
↵50 Owen, op. cit. (note 27).
↵51 Lubbock, op. cit. (note 7). p. 490.
↵52 Owen, op. cit. (note 27), p. 331.
↵53 Ibid., p. 581.
↵54 Ibid., p. 581.
↵55 Ibid., p. 583.
↵56 Lubbock, op. cit. (note 1).
↵57 John Lubbock Diary entry dated 14 July 1883, British Library MS Add 62680.
↵58 Stocking, op. cit. (note 9).
↵59 Owen, op. cit. (note 27), pp. 69–72.
↵60 Avebury Catalogue, vol. 2, no. 1078, Bromley Museum.
↵61 Letter from Bartle Frere to John Lubbock, 21 August 1874, British Library MS Add 49677.
↵62 Avebury Catalogue, vol. 2, no. 1148, Bromley Museum; letter from Lady C. Frere to John Lubbock, 20 November 1877, British Library MS Add 49677.
↵63 N. Hall and N. Burgis, Trollope, Anthony. The letters, 1st edn (Stanford University Press, 1983), p. 826.
↵65 Letter from A. C. Smith to John Lubbock,  January 1872, British Library MS Add 49644.
↵66 John Lubbock Diary entry in year summary for 1872, British Library MS Add 62680.
↵67 Letter from J. Fergusson to John Lubbock, 26 October 1867, British Library MS Add 49642; J. Lubbock, ‘Fergusson's Rude Stone Monuments’, Nature 5, 386–389 (1872).
↵68 Letter from John Lubbock to O. Morgan, 22 November 1872, British Library MS Add 49644.
↵69 Owen, op. cit. (note 27), pp. 119–121.
↵70 J. Carman, Valuing ancient things. Archaeology and the law (Leicester University Press, 1996), pp. 67–96.
↵71 Lubbock, op. cit. (note 49), Figure 281, p. 535.
- © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society.