Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hawkins, Edward (1780-1867)

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HAWKINS, EDWARD (1780–1867), numismatist and antiquary, born at Macclesfield on 5 May 1780, was the eldest son of Edward Hawkins of Macclesfield, banker, by his wife Ellen, daughter of Brian Hodgson of Ashbourne, Derbyshire. He was educated at the Macclesfield grammar school, and privately from 1797 to 1799 by Mr. Ormerod, vicar of Kensington, and father of the historian of Cheshire. About 1799 he returned to Macclesfield, and received a commission in a volunteer corps raised there. He was employed under his father in the Macclesfield bank until 1802, when the family left Macclesfield, and settled at Court Herbert in Glamorganshire. While there he was a partner with his father in a bank at Swansea, and they superintended the copper works at Neath Abbey. In 1807 he left Court Herbert, and lived successively at Glanburne, Drymon, and Dylais in North Wales. At this time he turned his attention to botany, and was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1806. A service of Swansea china, hand-painted for him from the illustrations to Sowerby's ‘Botany,’ is in the possession of his son, the Rev. H. S. Hawkins. He also formed a very large collection of books and prints relating to Chester, and added a great number of engravings to his copy of Ormerod's ‘Cheshire,’ now in the possession of Mr. R. L. Kenyon. In 1816 his father died, leaving heavy debts, which Hawkins voluntarily charged on his own estates. In 1819 he took up his residence in Surrey, first at Nutfield, and then at East Hill, Oxted. In 1821 he was elected fellow of the Royal Society, of which he became vice-president.

In 1826 Hawkins was appointed keeper of antiquities (including at that time coins and medals and prints and drawings) at the British Museum, in succession to Taylor Combe (for whom he had been deputy since May 1825), and held the office till his resignation at the close of 1860 (Statutes and Rules of the British Museum, 1871). He edited and contributed to part v. and parts vii–x. of the ‘Description of Ancient Marbles in the British Museum,’ 1812, &c. fol., and completed and revised the ‘Description of the Anglo-Gallic Coins in the British Museum,’ 1826, 4to, begun by T. Combe. Hawkins published in 1841 (London, 8vo) ‘The Silver Coins of England,’ the standard work on the subject (2nd and 3rd editions by R. L. Kenyon, 1876, 8vo, 1887, 8vo). He also wrote a descriptive account of British medals, and an abridgment of part of this work (to the end of the reign of William III) was printed in 1852. The trustees of the British Museum declined to issue it, chiefly on account of several paragraphs in which Hawkins expressed his strong protestant and tory views (cf. Hansard's Debates, 3 July 1854, and Med. Illustr. i. p. vi). But when completed to the death of George II, and revised, with additions, by Mr. A. W. Franks and Mr. H. A. Grueber, it ultimately appeared as a British Museum publication in 1885, with the title ‘Medallic Illustrations of the History of Great Britain and Ireland,’ London, 2 vols. 8vo. It is the standard work on the subject. Hawkins had a minute knowledge of British medals, and had formed a magnificent collection of them, which was purchased from him by the British Museum in 1860. He also formed a large collection of English political caricatures, which was purchased by the British Museum in 1868. Hawkins edited for the Chetham Society Sir W. Brereton's ‘Travels in Holland,’ 1844, 4to, and ‘The Holy Lyfe … of Saynt Werburge,’ 1848, 4to. He was president of the Numismatic Society of London, and fellow (elected 1826) and vice-president (1856) of the Society of Antiquaries, to which he was much devoted. He contributed to the proceedings of both societies. In 1846 he was elected one of the treasurers of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Hawkins died at his house, 6 Lower Berkeley Street, London, on 22 May 1867, in the eighty-eighth year of his age. He remembered Dr. Johnson, whom he had seen a few days before Johnson's death. Hawkins married, on 29 Sept. 1806, Eliza, daughter of Major Rohde, and had three sons and a daughter: Edward, d. 1867; Rev. Herbert Samuel, rector of Deyton, Suffolk; Major Rohde (see below); Mary Eliza, wife of John Robert Kenyon, Q.C. An excellent bust of Hawkins by Mr. Hamo Thornycroft, R.A., is now in the possession of the Rev. H. S. Hawkins.

Hawkins, Major Rohde (1820–1884), the third son, born at Nutfield, Surrey, 4 Feb. 1820, studied architecture, and in 1841 was appointed travelling architect to the expedition sent out under Sir Charles Fellows to Caria and Lycia. The Harpy Tomb at the British Museum, and other antiquities, were reconstructed from his drawings and measurements. He was afterwards appointed architect to the committee of council on education. He died at Redlands, near Dorking, 19 Oct. 1884.

[Proceedings of the Numismatic Society in vii. 11 of the Numismatic Chronicle, partly based on the Athenæum for 15 June 1867; Lord Stanhope's notice in Proceed. Soc. Antiq. for 23 April 1868; Pref. to Hawkins's Medallic Illustr.; Ward's Men of the Reign, 1885; information from Mr. Hawkins's family, kindly furnished by his grandson, Mr. R. L. Kenyon; private information.]

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