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The Grave of Francis Galton

By Debbie J Challis, on 7 July 2011

Occasionally I leave the museum bunker to give talks about the museum, exhibitions and my research. A few weeks ago I went out to the lovely village of Claverdon in Warwickshire to give a talk on Francis Galton.

2011 is the centenary of the death of the scientist Sir Francis Galton. Francis Galton's Grave in Claverdon GraveyardLast year the churchwarden Jonathan Evans got in touch with UCL Museums and Collections as they had received funding from the Galton Institute to clean up and conserve Galton’s grave in Claverdon church’s graveyard.

Galton display in Claverdon church

Galton display in Claverdon church

Jonathan was concerned that not many people in Claverdon knew who Galton was or how important and wanted some information available on him, that also addressed the difficult issue of eugenics. Jonathan himself researched and wrote a booklet on Galton and there is a small display up in  the church, to which UCL contributed a poster.  It is quite strange that Galton was buried in Claverdon at all as he spent little time there from the 1850s until his death in 1911, but he lies in the family vault

While researching the Typecast exhibition at the Petrie Museum I have become knowledgeable about Galton, though not an expert, and it was with some trepidation that I went to give a talk on him at the church as part of a big activity day. alongside his parents and brother.

I was even more nervous to then be speaking in front of a professor of genetics and one of Galton’s living relatives, Christopher, but fortunately everyone was very nice and hopefully learned more about Galton by the end of the day.

Excitingly, for me anyway, Galton’s great great great (I think) nephew had brought his family book which recorded the achievements of the Galtons and their family tree. There was a portrait in there that I had not seen before and a comment by Galton’s great niece on the moral problems that eugenics may bring. Christopher pointed out how prescient that comment about ‘Uncle Frank’s’ work was.

Page from the family book

Debbie Challis, Petrie Museum

8 Responses to “The Grave of Francis Galton”

  • 1
    Francis Galton – a centenary (and an elusive archive) « Bloomsbury Bytes wrote on 16 September 2011:

    […] for the more intrepid, Francis Galton is buried in Claverdon churchyard, with a gravestone that was almost indecipherable when we visited two years ago. Memorials to him […]

  • 2
    patricia curran wrote on 31 December 2011:

    Thank you for a very informative article.
    I have recently discovered that I am related through marriage to Sir Francis and I am currently reading all about his life.
    I will be visiting his grave when the weather improves.

  • 3
    Table basse wrote on 30 March 2012:

    Great to hear about Galton. I am a big of Darwin’s work and very keen on everything about evolution theory. I especially appreciated how galton incorporated maths into evolution theory and think that people should be more aware of what this man brought to science, I think this post is a good start and hope it will be read by many.
    Would have loved to attend the talk about him but unfortunately I do not live in the UK…
    Thanks for the post.

  • 4
    Anna Davis wrote on 26 July 2012:

    That was worth reading. I am very much interested in evolution of species and Galton seemed like a sequel to Darwin. His theories are amazing and innovative. Thanks again for the post.

  • 5
    Perry wrote on 1 September 2012:

    Yes, Jonathan is right,not many people knew Galton,not even me before reading this post,LOL.Now i read a lots about him,Great person he was.Good contribution of UCL. Thanks for posting this information.

  • 6
    Neil wrote on 28 September 2012:

    Galton has been one of my favourite historical figures for almost 10 years now. He seems to follow me in my career wherever I go (it began with my research in fingerprint analysis, more recently my work in psychology, and several stops in between). He made so many fascinating discoveries/observations, and had such an active mind. His work in statistics is particularly important. This post reminded me that I should take a weekend trip to Claverdon one of these days.

  • 7
    Andrew wrote on 1 October 2012:

    Sir Galton was really a extra ordinary person. His research and books are awesome. One of the book he wrote “Hereditary Genius” is the book I like very much. And nobody can neglect in contribution to the intelligence theory and testing.
    Thanks for sharing this super article here.

  • 8
    GossipGirl wrote on 8 March 2015:

    I loved his books.

    I will visit his grave as soon as I get the chance to.

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