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Fowey Harbour Heritage Society

Philip Rashleigh, Mineralogist and Antiquary, 1729 -1811

Philip was born in Aldermanbury, London and died at his home of Menabilly, near Fowey.  He married Jane Pole, his first cousin in 1782.  They had no children. Philip Rashleigh served continuously as MP for Fowey 1765 -1802 becoming 'Father of the House' (a title bestowed on the longest serving member), although his attendance was described as 'poor'.

Although an MP and a landowner, he seems to be best known as Cornwall's most famous mineralogist and antiquary.  His collection of Cornish Minerals began when he inherited his family's estates, obtaining specimens from local miners and landowners, collecting many himself and purchasing or exchanging items from other collectors in England and abroad. His home at Menabilly had a dedicated room for the collection of over 4000 specimens, which was meticulously catalogued by source and locality. Two illustrated volumes were published in 1797 and 1802 and illustrations for a 3rd prepared. On his death, his mineral collection was left to his nephew, William Rashleigh (1777 - 1855) and the items are held in two places – the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro and the Natural History Museum, London.

Philip also had an interest in antiquaries, especially items obtained from tin streamworks.  His collection contained a late Saxon hoard of metalwork from Trewhiddle (near Pentewan) which is now in the British Museum.

Through his management of the estate, the Rashleigh family were re-instated as leaders in mining and agricultural reforms within Cornwall.  He is buried in Tywardreath.

Research Maureen Ogg


Sources:  R. J. Cleevely, ‘Rashleigh, Philip (1729–1811)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (OxfordUniversity Press, 2004);

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