chapter  13
6 Pages


WithDavid Wilson

When faced with Joseph Crabtree’s life and polymathic interests, it is difficult not to be embarrassed by the large field left to be studied. As an archaeologist I might have turned to his influence on antiquarian thought in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century, for there is plenty of evidence of his influence on, if little of his direct contribution to, the muse of antiquity. I can find no record in the list of Fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of the man from whom this Foundation takes its name, but I put this down to the influence of one of the Presidents of the Society of Antiquaries, the Earl of Aberdeen, of whom Crabtree had said ‘Aberdeen, Sir, comes from a long line of maiden aunts’, and who almost certainly removed Crabtree’s name from the rolls. But def-inite evidence of Crabtree’s membership of the Society is to be found in the more ephemeral publications of his day: I refer, of course, to that passage, well-known to all Crabtree students, describing a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries which appeared in The Intelligence for 31 October 1830. It records the minutes of the previous meeting and runs:

Presented-first a Bow and Arrow Supposed the same with which the Sparrow Cock Robin’s bosom did transfix (See Mother Goose, vol. 1, page 6) Discovered underneath a Hay-rick in Herefordshire-by Dr. Mayrick Read the accompanying essay Some forty folios as I guess a Brief Statement, Luminous and Clear Of how ‘twas found and when, and where, With arguments of greatest nicety In favour of its Authenticity.