James Edge Partington (1854- 1930) was an ethnographer and collector of Pacific material. He wrote about his expeditions, documented collections and produced volumes of descriptions and drawings. His collections are found in major museums in the UK and Oceania.
James Edge Partington was born in Manchester but was educated at Rugby School after his family moved to London. He studied law and qualified as a solicitor, though he did not pursue this as a career. 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 worked as a volunteer ethnologist at 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).
Edge Partington undertook a second Pacific voyage which produced a third volume in 1898 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. The objects in the Horniman Museum were purchased from him in 1913. After his death many items went to the British Museum. The remaining collection was acquired by the Auckland Museum, New Zealand.