Edge-Partington, James


James Edge Partington was born in 1854 in Brighton Grove, Manchester. He was educated at Rugby and qualified as a solicitor. In 1879 he embarked on a three year expedition to the Pacific. It was during this period that Edge Partington became a serious collector and ethnologist of Pacific material.

In 1883 he published his journals entitled ‘Random Rot’, outlining his activities in the Pacific. On returning to England he began working as a volunteer in the ethnographical department of the British Museum, documenting the museum’s South Sea collection. Edge Partington researched and documented private and public collections of Pacific and Maori material and published two volumes of drawings and descriptions of native Pacific Islands weapons, tools, ornaments and dress (in 1890 and 1895).

James Edge Partington married Ada Caroline Cunliffe and had a son; Thomas William Edge Partington (1883 - 1920).

Edge Partington undertook a second Pacific voyage which produced further publications (1889) and further extended his research and collection activities. He amassed a large collection of photographs relating to the pacific (now in the British Museum) and was a frequent contributor to the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (then known as MAN).

Artefacts collected by Edge Partington are found in collections all over the world, particularly in New Zealand, England, and Australia. After his death many items went to the the British Museum. The remaining collection was acquired by the Auckland Museum, New Zealand.

Brief biography

academic, anthropologist and collector (1854 -1930)

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Collection Information

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