Letter from Polly Bence

We have received this letter from Polly Bence. She will be very grateful if anyone can provide further information.

Dear Mary,

I hope you don’t mind my contacting you out of the blue.

I am a PhD student researching the ethnographic collections at Bristol Museum and they hold a group of objects collected by Admiral Francis Starkie Clayton.

These objects were firstly donated to Hereford Museum by his son Rev J. F. [Jack] Clayton – 119 objects from Fiji, Samoa, PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. More than half are weaponry (spears, bows and arrows) but he also collected fibre craft, especially from the Santa Cruz Islands. The collection was transferred to Bristol in 1934 with little information. There is a brief mention of the Chinese Legation in London in the accession book but I think that this is more related to his son John Francis.

The only biographical information I have on F.S. Clayton and his time in the Pacific is from the Persona Naval Press website and your article ‘Pretty Little Hobart’ which have all been really interesting! Especially his fondness for his wife and his homesickness. One of the objects he collected was a tapa vest from Samoa and I cant help wondering if this was for her.

At the Hereford Museum the curator has checked the registers and there is no mention of the Clayton material. She does mention that entries only started in the 1920s and that the Museum developed from the Woolhope Naturalists Field Club. The early Museum was joined to the library. and they will hopefully get back to me.

I have also got a copy of ‘The Letters of Captain Francis Starkie Clayton on the Australia Station, 1885–8 312’ and have noted that Clayton’s letters are owned by David Clayton.

I am wondering whether you have come across anything in your research that might shed light on his motivations for collecting? And his connection to Hereford?

Many thanks in advance for any assistance,

Polly Bence
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
University of Bristol

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