Home Archives & Manuscripts Archive Contents ETHNOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF LONDON. Council (A1)

Minutes. 2 Jan. 1844 – 26 Jan. 1869.

In July 1842 Dr Richard King (1811-76) issued a prospectus for the Ethnological Society setting out its aims (see J. Ethnol. Soc., vol. 2, 1850, pp. 15-16) and on 7 Feb. 1843 (date recorded by J.B. Davis, Anthrop. Rev., vol. 6, 1868, p. 395) the first meeting was held at Dr Thomas Hodgkin’s house in Lower Brook Street where Ernest Dieffenbach’s ‘The study of ethnology’ was read (see J. Ethnol. Soc., vol. 1, 1848, pp. 15-26). The Society was constituted in early Nov. 1843 meeting again at Dr Hodgkin’s house; Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm (1782-1851), President was in the Chair and Dr King as Secretary. Subsequently meetings were held at 27 Sackville Street (rent £120) and at 4 St Martin’s Place (now the National Portrait Gallery) from 1859. Prof. Robert Jameson arranged for the transactions of the Society to be published in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal of which he was editor, saying ‘By this arrangement we are freed from the risk of expense of undertaking a journal of our own.’ An announcement for the formation of the Society appeared in vol. 34, Jan./Apr. 1843, pp. 392-3. Thereafter papers read were published between vol. 36, Oct. 1843/Apr. 1844 – vol. 56, Oct. 1853/Apr. 1854 all of which were reprinted in the Journal of the Ethnological Society, vols. 1-4, 1848-56 except the following: vol. 47, Apr./Oct. 1849, pp. 293-303, ‘Remarks upon the general principles of philological classification and the value of groupes [sic], with particular references to the languages of the Indo-European class’ by R.G. Latham (see variant title ‘On the general principles’ J. Ethnol. Soc., vol. 2, 1850, pp. 224-34); and vol. 51, Apr./Oct. 1851, pp. 331-44, ‘On the Aboriginal tribes of India’ by John Briggs, Vice President (possibly not read before the Society). In addition to the formation of a Library, the Society’s acquisitions included two types of the ‘Malays modelled expressly for the Society’ by Frederick S. Archer; busts of Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811) both German naturalists and travellers; a cast from a ‘known and very rare model of Captain Cook’ and a portrait in chalk of a ‘Papuan Negro’ on his deathbed at St Thomas’s Hospital.

Prior to the founding of the Ethnological Society, Dr Hodgkin had founded the Aborigines Protection Society in 1837 from which it was an offshoot. Dr James Cowles Prichard (1786-1848) read a paper ‘On the extinction of some varieties of the human race’ before the British Association in 1839 which resulted in the appointment of a committee to draw up a questionnaire; the latter became Instructions to travellers, the forerunner of Notes and queries in anthropology published later by the RAI. Both Hodgkin and Prichard were on the committee which completed its work in 1843 (see ‘A manual of ethnological inquiry’, J. Ethnol. Soc., vol. 3, 1854, pp. 193-208). The Ethnological Society amalgamated with the Anthropological Society in 1871 to form the (Royal) Anthropological Institute. on 30 Oct. 1943 the RAI held a centenary meeting (see Man, Jan./Feb. 1944, nos. 1-9; and no. 10 for the report of the foundation meeting, 7 Feb. 1843 from the Phrenological Journal, vol. 16, 1843). See Ter Ellingson’s letter at end.

Papers read to the Society appeared in the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal (later reprinted in J. Ethnol. Soc.) as follows:

Vol. 36  Oct. 1843 – Apr. 1844, pp. 118-36. On the progress of ethnology by Dr T. Hodgkin; read before the Ethnological Society, 22 Nov. 1843

Vol. 37  Apr.-Oct. 1844, pp. 249-55. On the ancient Peruvians by J.J. de Tschudi; read 1844 (no precise date)

pp. 255-72. The Mongols by Bayle St John; read 24 Jan. 1844

pp. 395-402. On the Biluchi tribes inhabiting Sindh in the lower valley of the Indus by Thomas Postans; read 10 Apr. 1844

Vol. 38  Oct. 1844 – Apr. 1845, pp. 20-38. On the Biluchi tribes concluded

Vol. 38  pp. 306-32. On the intellectual character of the Esquimaux by Richard King; read 19 June 1844

Vol. 39  Apr.-Oct. 1845, pp. 157-69. On the languages of the Oregon Territory by R.G. Latham; read 11 Dec. 1844

pp. 372-86. On the ancient inhabitants of the Canary Islands by Thomas Hodgkin with ‘Philological comments’ by R.G. Latham; read 21 May 1845

Vol. 40  Oct. 1845 – Apr. 1846, pp. 35-44. On the ethnography of Russian America by R.G. Latham; read 19 Feb. 1845

pp. 161-78. On the human mouth by Alexander Nasmyth; read 23 Apr. 1845

pp. 313-30. On the natives of Old Calebar, West Coast of Africa by W.F. Daniell; with supplement: Upon the philological ethnography of the countries around the Bight of Biafra by R.G. Latham; read 28 Jan. 1846

Vol. 41  Apr.-Oct. 1846, pp. 168-92. On the Indian tribes inhabiting the north-west coast of America by John Scouler; read 29 Apr. 1846

pp. 361-84. On the natives of Guiana by Sir Robert Schomburgk; read 27 Nov. 1844 [sic]

Vol. 42  Oct. 1846 – Apr. 1847, pp. 112-35. The industrial arts of the Esquimaux by Richard king; read nd

Vol. 43  Apr.-Oct. 1847, pp. 307-35. On the relations of ethnology to other branches of knowledge by J.C. Prichard; read 22 June 1847

Vol. 44  Oct. 1847 – Apr. 1848, pp. 155-200. On the Malayan and Polynesian languages and races by John Crawfurd; read June 1847

pp. 232-45. The Bubis, or Edeeyah of Fernando Po by Thomas R. Heywood Thomson, read 8 Dec. 1847; with Supplement: Upon the Edeeyah vocabulary of Thomas R. Heywood Thomson by R.[G.] Latham

Vol. 45  Apr.-Oct. 1848, pp. 336-46. Anniversary address for 1848 … On the recent progress of ethnology by the President, James Cowles Prichard; read, nd

Vol. 46  Oct. 1848 – Apr. 1849, pp. 53-72. Anniversary address, concluded.

pp. 114-28. The migration of the ancient Mexicans, and their analogy to the existing tribes of Northern Mexico by George Frederick Ruxton; read 17 May 1848

pp. 197-205. Obituary notice of Lieutenant George Augustus Frederick Ruxton (1821-48) by Richard King; read 20 Dec. 1848

pp. 307-29. The Albanians by Henry Skene; read 7 June 1848

Vol. 47  Apr.-Oct. 1849, pp. 205-24. Biographical sketch of James Cowles Prichard by Thomas Hodgkin; read 28 Feb. 1849

pp. 265-79. On the geographical distribution of languages of Abessinia and the neighbouring countries by Charles T. Beke; read 22 Nov. 1848 (previously at Section of Ethnology, British Association, Swansea, 14 Aug. 1848)

Vol. 48  Oct. 1849 – Apr. 1850, nil

Vol. 49  Apr.-Oct. 1850, pp. 389-91. Observations on three skulls of Naloo Africans by Richard Owen; read 25 Apr. 1849

Vol. 50  Apr.-Oct. 1851, nil

Vol. 52  Oct. 1851 – Apr. 1852, pp. 289-303. On the ethnography of Akkrah and Adampé, Gold Coast, Western Africa by William F. Daniell; cont. Vol. 53

Vol. 53  Apr.-Oct. 1852, pp. 67-79. On the recent progress of ethnology, being the annual discourse for 1852; read by Richard Cull at the AGM, 14 May 1852

pp. 120-30. On the ethnography of Akkrah cont.

pp. 333-40. Ibid. concluded

Vol. 54  Apr.-Oct. 1853, pp. 352-7. Anniversary address to the Ethnological Society by Sir Benjamin C. Brodie

1/ Minutes of the following are also included:

1 Special Council meetings, 10 Feb., 18 Mar. 1857, ff. 226-7, 228-9; 15 June 1868, f. 348

2 Annual meetings, 12 June 1850 – 28 May 1856, ff. 60-6, 85-91, 110-19, 134-40, 159-65, 185-92, 208-14

2/ Inserts 1-3 (tipped-in)

1 Resolution passed at a meeting of Council of the Anthropological Society on 16 June 1868 on the name to be adopted for the joint society (holograph), inside upper cover

2 List of names for ? President and Council (holograph), inside upper cover

3 Ethnological Society of London (Special statement), 19 Mar. 1861, 3 pp. on the activities of the Society; and membership forms, lower end-paper

3/ Journal of the Ethnological Society of London, vol. 1, 1848: Report of the first anniversary meeting of the Society, 29 May 1844, signed by G.B. Greenough pasted on lower paste-down end-paper (holograph); see A1:1

4/ Ethnological Journal, Nos. 1-11, June 1848 – 1p 1849: Note on the journal’s lack of connection with the Society by Richard Cull, Hon. Secretary of the Ethnological Society, 4 Jan. 1854 (holograph) tipped-in p. [1]; No. 11 was the last issue; see A1:2

Addition to A1

Ethnomusicology, Box 353450


Seattle WA 98195

(206) 543-7211 Fax: (206) 685-4787 Internet:

November 7, 1997

Mrs Beverley Emery, RAI Library Representative, Museum of Mankind

C/o Royal Anthropological Institute

50 Fitzroy Street

London W1P 5HS UK

Dear Mrs Emery:

I’d like to thank you for your help during my research visit to the RAI collection in September. Your help made the visit very productive and enjoyable, and I have sent a separate message to the RAI expressing my appreciation for your aid to my research.

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to consult my sources here, I believe I was right in reading the ‘mystery name’ in the ESL minutes as J. Emerson Tennent. Sir James Emerson Tennant published his book on Ceylon that year. As a titled (then a knight, later a baronet) holder of responsible government posts, and as the author of an ethnographic work that avoided the racial emphases that were becoming increasingly dominant in the literature, he was exactly the kind of person the Prichardian leadership would have turned to as an alternative to the rise of the Hunt-Crawfurd faction. He did finally become a member in May of 1860; but in 1859, the Council would no doubt have offered retroactive membership to enable his election, as they did at their previous meeting when they attempted to recruit Fitzroy.

On the other hand, I now believe I was wrong in my first assumption that the word ‘resigned’ was a slip of the pen for ‘declined’. The passage in question says: [p. 253] ‘the honorary secretary having stated that Sir J. Emerson Tennent had finally [254] resigned the presidency, it was unanimously resolved that he be requested to remain in the office of president during another year.’ The whole sentence can make sense only if the word intended was actually ‘resigned’, since only if the Anniversary Meeting had already occurred and a President elected, could the Council, as I understand the Society’s bylaws, have assumed the responsibility of naming a replacement under the bylaws’ provision for filling vacancies. If Tennent had simply declined the nomination, another name would have had to have been proposed for selection by members, rather than the Council. But if the meeting had been held, as usual, in the week following the ‘house list’ nominations, and in the rush to find a substitute for Fitzroy, Tennent had been proposed, then we have the interesting case of yet another ESL President, although one with the shortest term of office on record.

I have attached the text of Crawfurd’s campaign circular from the British Library. I wonder if it would be possible to arrange to get a photocopy of your assistant’s list of ESL officers. I would, of course, give appropriate citations for any use I made of them. Please let me know. Thanks again for your help.


Ter Ellington

Associate Professor, Ethnomusicology and Anthropology

Enclosure: Crawfurd Parliamentary campaign circular

Crawfurd, John

1834  To the inhabitants of the Borough of Marylebone. London: John Crawfurd, 27, Wilton Crescent, Belgrave Square, 8th January 1834. Snell, Printer, Paddington. 2 copies in Broughton Papers, Vol. 5, ff. 208, 213. British Library Additional Manuscript 47,226. Transcribed by Ter Ellingson





A vacancy in the representation of your Borough being shortly expected, and parties having already offered themselves entertaining political opinions differing much from mine, and, as I believe, also from those of a large Majority of yourselves, I take this means of respectfully intimating my intention of presenting myself as a Candidate at the first Election for a Member of Parliament.

Earnestly wishing to afford you every means of judging of my political views, and of determining the extent to which I possess the qualifications requisite for the arduous and responsible office of a Representative of the People, I proceed at once to lay before you a brief exposition of my principles and opinions, pledging myself at the same time to give you any oral explanation which may be required.

The recent Reform in the Representation of the people, although a considerable step, has, in my judgment, essentially failed in producing those indispensable improvements in our institutions, and that change in the spirit of our Government which the people had anxiously, and reasonably expected. I have narrowly watched, and closely examined the changes which have been carried into effect in the first session of the Reformed Parliament, and it is my honest conviction that they have been, either imperfect remedies, or aggravations of popular evils. In the great majority of instances they have been clumsily, or feebly executed; some were open, and, indeed, professed violations of every principle which ought to govern the legislation of a free people.

Judging from its working in the first Session, I am of opinion, that the recent Reform in the Common’s House of Parliament is insufficient, and demands many improvements. Among these, the most essential are, the extension of the suffrage to every Inhabitant Householder, without making the payment of rates or taxes a condition of franchise; the introduction of secret voting for the protection of the honest Elector – and frequent Elections.

The Taxes imposed upon the people in many vexatious forms, and under a variety of unjust pretexts, are burthensome and unnecessary. Much of our system of taxation rests with an unequal, and unjust pressure upon those classes of society that are the least able to bear its weight; while unskilfulness in assessment, and improvidence in collection, make it comparatively unproductive to the Treasury.

The reductions made in the Government Expenditure during the last three years, are wholly inadequate to the exigencies of the people, and have hardly produced any other result, than national disappointment. In our Civil Expenditure there is wide room for retrenchment, by suppression of unnecessary offices, by reduction of extravagant salaries, by extinction of sinecures, and by the abolition of pensions unearned by laudable public services.

In our Naval and Military Expenditure there is still wider room for retrenchment; and when, after nearly twenty years of peace, we find our whole effective land force nearly double, and the army maintained within the United Kingdom, also nearly double what it was when we were on the eve of being precipitated into our last extravagant and unhappy contest with France – the necessity for retrenchment in these departments will be admitted by every right judging man.

I am an advocate for the greatest Liberty of Trade and Commerce, as well as for the utmost freedom for Industry in all its departments and ramifications. Every restriction on the freedom of industry, under the delusive notion of protecting a particular interest, amounts to a monopoly conferred upon that interest, and consequently, to a most injurious tax upon the community.

I am for the Repeal of the Corn Laws, and for a trade, not only in this first necessary of life, but in every other necessary of life, as unshackled with foreign notions as that between one County of England and another County. I am a decided enemy to any duty upon Corn for fiscal purposes, considering bread to be an unfit subject for taxation; and I am still more an enemy to such duty for the purpose, in itself delusory, of affording what is called protection to the proprietors of the land, by way of equivalent for such charges as are imagined to press exclusively on the landed interest; being wholly unaware of the existence of any peculiar burthen upon the land, not inherited with it, or calculated upon its purchase.


I heartily disapprove of the great Monopolies of Sugar, Timber, and other Colonial produce, all of which are charges of many annual millions to the British people, and grievous restraints upon their commerce with foreign nations, while experience has proved that they are, generally injurious, and often ruinous to their holders.

I am of opinion that the basis of National Currency ought to consist of the precious metals, and that no paper money can be safe or sound that is not convertible, at the pleasure of the holder, into a given weight, and expressed fineness of Gold or Silver.

I am convinced that the most extensive reforms are demanded in our systems of Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence; that simplification is required in the arrangement of our Laws; and promptitude, efficiency, and cheapness, in their administration.

I think that all Municipalities should be vested with the administration of their own Police, and should have the appointment of their own Local Magistrates, to be chosen by a ballot of all parties voting for members of the legislature.

My sentiments on our Foreign Policy are expressed in very few words: – The preservation of an honourable peace should be its chief object; peace being indispensable to the promotion of national prosperity, and to the consolidation of national liberties; war being the surest instrument for arresting the progress of both.

The more widely Education is diffused among the people, and the greater the amount of their knowledge on every subject which affects their interests, the better for Society. Knowledge is the best means of assuring the comfort, the happiness, and the respectability of the People; the most certain preventive of anarchy and disorder, and the only solid support of good Government.

In the very important question of Ecclesiastical Reform my opinions are these: – I hold the property enjoyed by the Church to be the property of the Nation: I hold that the majority of the People, or the legislature acting on their behalf, have a right to appropriate the property now possessed by the Church as may seem best to them. I hold tithes to be a most impolitic and mischievous tax. I hold that the communicants of each religious persuasion, ought in justice, to maintain their own Pastors, and support their own Churches; and that the followers of no one form of worship should be taxed for the maintenance of another.

On the question of Pledges, my opinion has long been formed. I consider a member of Parliament to be strictly the Agent of his Constituents, bound to obey their instructions when he can conscientiously do so, and bound, at once, to resign, as being virtually no longer their Representative, when he cannot. When Parliaments shall be of short duration, and members shall be frequently sent back to the People to be dismissed or returned as they may happen to represent their wishes or otherwise, pledges will be seldom called for; but while long Parliaments exist, and compel Electors to repose an unreasonable confidence in their Representatives, pledges are both rational and indispensable.

On the principle thus explained, I shall never hesitate to pledge myself to a specific vote upon any question whatever on which my judgment has enable me to come to a decision; I therefore pledge myself without hesitation to vote for the Ballot, Extension of Suffrage, and short Parliaments, for the abolition of every Tax on Knowledge, for the abolition of all Monopolies, and for the abolition of Military flogging, and of the dishonest and barbarous practice of Naval Impressment, as well as for the reform of the Law of Libel, and the extinction of those demoralizing remnants of Feudalism, the Game Laws.

Placed in parliament I shall not be one of that class of Representatives who resist the instructions of their Constituents. On the contrary I shall be happy to receive their directions from time to time, and to conform to them. And when I cannot conscientiously do so, I shall be ready to resign my trust, whenever called upon by a majority of the inhabitants at a public meeting duly convened for that purpose.

To the explanations now given, I will only add, that my moderate fortune renders me perfectly independent, that my constant residence is in the Metropolis; and that I have no occupation whatever which can distract me for one moment from bestowing an exclusive attention upon the duties of a member of the Legislature.

If the sentiments I have here expressed, together with such personal explanations as I may have an opportunity of giving at your Public Meetings, should fortunately receive your approbation, I will, at the proper time, come forward as a Candidate for the honour of representing the Borough of Marylebone.

I am,

With great respect,

Your obedient humble Servant,


27, Wilton Crescent, Belgrave Square,

8th January 1834.

Snell, Printer, Paddington