The Reverend Edward Budge-Cornish Mineral Collection

Written by John Cooke, Mineral Enthusiast and Part-Time Volunteer Curator

An Example of Investigative Co-operation with the Forensic Team at Keele University

The reader may recall that I presented the story of a Victorian mineral collection about 2 years ago.  At the time I was particularly interested in the ownership of the item but drew only some light-hearted conclusions. One interested correspondent made some observations that have changed the direction of the investigation and together with the aid of a forensic student a new story has emerged.

The Victorian boxed collection of minerals, at the centre of the study, comprises six mahogany trays with approximately 45 specimens per tray, making a total of 270 specimens. The box is of a mahogany construction with sturdy gilt-plated handles and has been modified to open downwards so that the trays may be accessed horizontally.  The dimensions are 355x250x240 mm (or 14x10x9.5 inches) (Figs.1 and 2).

Figure 1: Box containing Cornwall and Devon minerals. Figure 2: Showing trays and contents of the box. Images © John Cooke.

One specimen tray has been strengthened using a piece of paper glued to the upper elevation and this bears some clues as to the date of the collection and the owner (Fig. 3). A post-date suggests the collection was in existence pre 1847 together with an address which has been mainly obliterated with strokes of India Ink. Areas not totally obliterated suggest that the owner/addressee was a Rev Edwd XXXX.  A roundel (? Postmark) indicates AMPTO (Fig. 4).

Figure 3: Obliterated address. Figure 4: Possible postmark. Images © John Cooke.

Specimen Identification

Unfortunately, the collection was received without a catalogue, although all the specimens have a sequential number glued onto them. Many specimens can be identified from visual experience. The local University kindly gave me access to a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyser to which many of the specimens were subjected and identified.

Most of the specimens would indicate an origin from the South-West with suites of specimens including Babel quartz from the Tamar Mines, quartz/apatite from Colcerrow, chalcedony from Wheal Mary Ann, Orthoclase from Wheal Coates, Lizard serpentines, Bovey Tracy tourmalines, fluorites from Wheal Mary Ann and Trevaunance, classic dolomite replacing calcite from Bere Alston, small Lady’s Slipper, Wheal Alfred pyromorphites, Wheal Unity mimetites and the usual vast array of metallic ores.

Investigations of ownership centred around those with the title Rev Edward XXX, living during the period 1841-1851. These dates have the benefit of having a census every 10 years from 1841. However, during this time frame, trade directories were also published and these analysed every parish in England. Cornwall and Devon also had these during the period of interest (1845). So, there are three datum points of 1841, 1845 and 1851 which conveniently straddle the date of 1847. It was shown that 39 instances of a Rev Edward occurred in the two counties during the decade. A number were young curates and most likely unable to purchase such a prestigious collection. Some clergy died prior to 1847 and others retired or were moved/promoted out of the areas. After analysis, four candidates remained and one was involved with the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall.

It was when a fellow collector saw a previous article on this subject that he became intrigued. Being a Devonian, he spotted that the roundel AMPTO was in fact the partial postal mark for OKEHAMPTON which was a central location for the local post during Victorian times. He cross-referenced any vicars with the Christian name Edward against membership of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall and one member stood out, a Rev Edward Budge. It was noted from his Cambridge Alumni that he was the incumbent at Manaccan in Cornwall after serving two curacies prior to this. He remained there from 1839 until 1846 when he was offered a more financially rewarding parish at Bratton Clovelly in Devon by the Bishop of Exeter. Under magnification of the tray there was evidence that part of the address was Bratton and that other loops and curls were in the correct position. So, the address was likely to be:

Rev Edwd Budge

Bratton Clovelly


Forensic Analysis by Keele University

Infra-red and ultra-violet analyses revealed parts of a script on the reverse of the label as follows…..

To The Tithe Commissioners for England and Wales, London

The Tithe Commissioners request you will be careful to forward all letters and packets not exceeding three feet in length, addressed to the Board through the Post-office: and to send such packets only as exceed the above by coach or van.

This reference was also found in a copy of:

Household Words

A Weekly Journal

Conducted by Charles Dickens

Volume V, from the 20th of March to the 11th of September 1852

In this, Charles Dickens is making fun of the different regulations and requests made when sending/addressing communications to various bodies.

So, these are the wrapping paper/envelopes used in communications to the Tithe Board in London. The Tithe award for Bratton Clovelly was started on the 30th April 1845 and confirmed by the Tithe Commissioners on the 30th December 1846. Reverend Edward Budge was instituted to the Rectory of Bratton Clovelly on the 4th of March 1846, voided by the death of the incumbent Christopher Birdwood and thus received Tithe of £460 (equivalent to £57,136 today).

Edward Budge’s Interest in Geology

The Reverend Edward Budge was an active participant in the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall and the following list of articles are those published in their Transactions during his incumbency at Manaccan (1839-1846):

  • On the Conglomerates and Raised Beaches of the Lizard district, VI: 1-11, 1841.
  • On the tract of land called the Lowlands, in the parish of St Keverne, VI: 59-63, 1842.
  • On Diluvial Action, as exemplified in the Gravel‑beds and Sienitic formation of Crousa‑Down, in the parish of St Keverne, VI: 91-98, 1843.
  • On the hornblende slate and other associated rocks of the Meneage district, VI: 173-180, 1844.
  • On the Granitic and other Associated Rocks of Cornwall and Devon, VI: 288-293, 1846.

Taking 1847 as the approximate date of the assemblage of the collection and being assembled by a local dealer having access to a wide variety of contemporary specimens, then there is a limited number of suppliers that could be identified. It is known that Edward Budge wrote many articles on the subject of geology and mineralogy whilst a vicar in Manaccan (1839-1846), further reinforcing the view that he acquired the collection either by purchase or gift from a local notable dealer.

Of the three likely local candidates, Richard Talling, was not known to have supplied boxed collections. He was the pre-eminent dealer of his day and took a personal interest in collecting wherever possible. He mainly supplied high quality minerals to the most learned characters of the day including royalty both in the UK and abroad.

Joseph Joseph of Redruth made up collections of minerals and his advertising leaflet describes these as:

200 specimens in four drawers                   £5.5.0

350 larger specimens in eight drawers    £10.10.0

In mahogany cabinets

He is noted as preparing collections specialising in Cornwall and Devon minerals. John Lavin of Penzance gives a description of his collections from Besley’s Hand Book Advertiser:

This unique collection of Cornish minerals contains specimens of the most interesting and rare substances, with perfect crystallisations for which the above county has been so justly celebrated.

100 Minerals scientifically arranged in a case with descriptive catalogues, from £1 to £3.  Larger specimens neatly set in a mahogany cabinet from £5 to £10.  More extensive selections and first-rate specimens from £20 to £50 upwards.

From the descriptions given, certainly Joseph Joseph and John Lavin were supplying the market with collections contained within mahogany cabinets.

The next data point is the death of Edward Budge which occurred in 1865 and it can be proven that he was still in possession of the mineral collection. His will and testament, amongst many other disbursements states that:

to his wife Ann Budge formerly of Bratton Clovelly but now of Saint Thomas the Apostle (near Exeter) both in the County of Devon, widow, the relict of the deceased,  I leave her my small cabinet of choice shells together with all the shells minerals fossils and curiosities of whatever kind are in my house to keep and retain for her own use or to distribute among any of the members of my own family but not to bequeath to any other persons…………I give to her on the condition of not alienating from my family hereafter

Edward Budge’s wife, Anne, died on the 11th of December 1893 and her will does not mention any of her husband’s natural science collections other than her books, paintings and some pictures (which were those from her husband), were to be given to her son, The Reverend Simcoe Budge. The surviving daughters remained unmarried and another son emigrated to Australia, so unlikely to have inherited the collections.

The boxed collection arrived in Derbyshire at some undetermined time and was located in Eyam from around the 1970s.

This article is a precis of a larger work in preparation.  The author would welcome any further information on the geological interests of the Reverend Edward Budge and especially any comments on the boxed mineral collections assembled by the contemporary mineral dealers of the Southwest mining area.

My sincere thanks are extended to Peter Maunder for deciphering the postmark and suggesting a likely candidate for ownership of the box. I am grateful to Dr Richard Darton and Carolin Kromberg, both of the Forensic Dept of Keele University for their investigations of the label.

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