Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Carne, Joseph

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CARNE, JOSEPH (1782–1858), geologist, born at Truro, Cornwall, on 17 April 1782, was the eldest son of William Carne, a banker, and was educated at the Wesleyan school, Keynsham, near Bristol. His younger brother was John Carne [q. v.] He married on 23 March 1808 Mary Thomas, the daughter of William Thomas of Kidwelly, M.D., physician at Haverfordwest. After his marriage he lived for a short time at Penzance, and in 1810 or 1811 he removed to Rivière House, on being appointed manager of the Cornish Copper Company's smelting works at Hayle. His good business habits and quickness at figures well fitted him for this situation. From a very early period Carne showed a great love for mineralogy and geology. He was in the habit of walking round to the copper mines, and collecting specimens of the rarer ores, which the miners were glad to sell at low prices. He thus formed the nucleus of his unique mineralogical collection. Carne was a remarkably close observer. He paid special attention to the granitic veins of St. Michael's Mount, and the vein-like lines of porphyritic rocks provincially termed ‘elvans.’ In 1816 and 1818 Carne communicated to the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall his investigation ‘On Elvan Courses,’ in which he satisfactorily establishes their general characters and fixes the probable dates of their intrusion into the granite masses and the clay-slates. ‘The Granite of the Western part of Cornwall’ and the ‘Geology of the Scilly Isles’ were additional communications made to the local geological society. After studying the formation of mineral veins he in 1818 communicated to the Geological Society of Cornwall a paper ‘On the relative Age of the Veins of Cornwall.’ The celebrated Werner was drawn by it into Cornwall, and he visited the mines of the county in company with Carne. This inquiry led, some years after, to the formation of a fund by subscription, which enabled Mr. William Jory Henwood to devote all his leisure, for many years, to personal observations in every mining field in Cornwall. These inquiries led to Carne's being elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 28 May 1818. In 1821 he published his paper ‘On the Mineral Productions and the Geology of the Parish of St. Just.’ This work led to the remarkable collection of the Cornish minerals which still exists in the possession of Mr. Charles Campbell Ross, formerly M.P. for St. Ives. Carne's paper ‘On the Pseudo-morphous Minerals of Cornwall’ is calculated to throw light on the mysterious changes which occur in minerals. In connection with this subject Carne also examined most of the varieties of tin ore which have been found in veins, and such as are peculiar to the diluvial deposits, which have been worked from the earliest historic times, in what are called ‘stream works.’ In 1846 a paper was read by Carne ‘On the Remains of a Submarine Forest in the North-eastern part of the Mount's Bay,’ and in 1851 ‘Notice of a Raised Beach lately discovered in Zennor’ will be found in the pages of the ‘Transactions of the Cornwall Geological Society,’ vol. vii.

Carne also wrote on the history of copper mining, and on the improvements made in its metallurgy—on the discovery of ancient coins—on the formation of the blown sands of the north coasts of the county, and contributed to the Statistical Society of London a most useful paper, ‘Statistics of the Tin Mines in Cornwall and of the Consumption of Tin in Great Britain.’

Carne was an honorary member of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. In 1837 he was pricked for sheriff of the county. He was for many years the treasurer of the Cornwall Geological Society. From his accurate knowledge of the laws of mines and minerals, and his intimate acquaintance with local usages, he was referred to in most cases of difficulty.

All the Wesleyan chapels of West Cornwall sought Carne's assistance and advice. He took charge of Sunday schools, and always kept a large stock of books for the teachers. In 1820 Carne left Hayle, and went to Penzance to become a partner in his father's bank (Batten, Carne, & Carne). He always took considerable interest in the affairs of that town and of the county. He died at Penzance on 12 Oct. 1858.

[Gent. Mag. 1858, v. 638; Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornubiensis; Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, 1818–1861; De la Beche's Report on the Geology of Cornwall and Devon, 1839; Henwood's Metalliferous Deposits of Cornwall and Devon, 1843; Royal Society's Catalogue; Gilbert's History of Cornwall; personal knowledge.]

R. H-t.