Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rashleigh, Philip

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RASHLEIGH, PHILIP (1729–1811), antiquary, eldest son of Jonathan Rashleigh, M.P. for Fowey in Cornwall (d. 24 Nov. 1764), who married, on 11 June 1728, Mary, daughter of Sir William Clayton of Marden in Surrey, was born at Aldermanbury, London, 28 Dec. 1729. He matriculated from New College, Oxford, 15 July 1749, and contributed to the poems of the university on the death of Frederick, prince of Wales, a set of English verses, which is reprinted in Nichols's ‘Select Collection of Poems’ (viii. 201–2); he left Oxford without taking a degree. At the death of his father he was elected member for the family borough of Fowey, on 21 Jan. 1765, and sat continuously, in spite of contests and election petitions, until the dissolution of 1802, when he was known as the ‘Father of the House of Commons’ ({{sc|Courtney, Parl. Rep. Cornwall, pp. 105, 108–9). His knowledge of Cornish mineralogy procured his election as F.S.A. and F.R.S. in 1788. He died at Menabilly, near Fowey, 26 June 1811, and was buried in the church of Tywardreath, Cornwall. He married his first cousin, Jane (1720–1795), only daughter of the Rev. Carolus Pole and granddaughter of Sir John Pole of Shute, Devonshire. They had no issue, and the family estates passed to a nephew. A portrait of Rashleigh, seated in a chair, was painted by Opie about 1795, and is now in the possession of Mr. Jonathan Rashleigh of Menabilly. It is a ‘fine specimen of the painter's best period’ (Rogers, Opie and his Works, p. 150).

Rashleigh's collection of minerals was remarkable for its various specimens of tin. It is still at Menabilly, and its most valuable portions are described in two volumes of ‘Specimens of British Minerals’ from his cabinet (1797 and 1802). In the same collection are models in glass of the hailstones that fell on 20 Oct. 1791, particulars of which, with the figured representations, are given, on Rashleigh's information, in King's ‘Remarks on Stones fallen from the Clouds,’ pp. 18–20. He contributed antiquarian papers to the ‘Archæologia,’ ix. 187–8, xi. 83–4, xii. 414, but they were derided by Dr. John Whitaker as the work of an ‘amateur in antiquarianism’ (Nichols, Lit. Illustrations, viii. 564; Numismatic Chronicle, new ser. vol. viii. 137–57; Trans. Royal Inst. of Cornwall, October 1867). A paper by him on certain ‘alluvial deposits’ at Sandrycock, Cornwall, is in the ‘Transactions’ of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, ii. 281–4, and a letter from him to E. M. Da Costa, on some English shells, is in the British Museum Addit. MS. 28541, f. 196. He constructed a remarkable grotto at Polridmouth, near the family seat.

[Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornub. ii. 547; Parochial Hist. of Cornwall, iv. 273, 279; C. S. Gilbert's Cornwall, ii. 246, 874–6; Vivian's Visitations of Cornwall; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Gent. Mag. 1811, i. 683; Polwhele's Biogr. Sketches, i. 17–9.]

W. P. C.