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Ralph Thoresby’s Museum: Indigenous Objects and Knowledge in Eighteenth-Century Yorkshire

Wednesday 3 May 2023, 5.30PM

Speaker(s): Professor Robbie Richardson, Princeton University

Ralph Thoresby was one of the most important private collectors of curiosities and natural history in early eighteenth-century Britain, and noteworthy because his collecting took place outside of London.

A Leeds merchant, antiquarian, member of the Royal Society, and correspondent of Sir Hans Sloane, Thoresby built a large and respected collection, which included many non-European objects.

Thoresby’s father initially established the Musaeum Thoresbyanum by purchasing the coins and library of Lord Fairfax, and Thoresby greatly expanded this collection from the late seventeenth century to his death in 1725.

He published a catalogue of his museum in 1715, influenced by and in conversation with the catalogues of other museums that he diligently collected and read, but most of the objects have not survived. 

This lecture, given by Professor Robbie Richardson (Princeton University) will look at the collecting career of Thoresby and his interaction with Indigenous objects and cultures to reflect on the broader dynamic of coercion and exchange between Indigenous North American nations and Britain.

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Location: Merchant Adventurers Hall, Fossgate, York