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John St. Aubyn
(1758-1839)

Sir John St. Aubyn, 5th Baronet, was born at Golden Square, London, England on May 17, 1758. His father (the 4th Baronet) was brought up by a Dr. William Borlase (1695-1772), himself a passionate mineral collector, and it could well be this influence that ultimately inspired St. Aubyn's fascination with minerals and the natural world.

St. Aubyn succeeded to the baronetcy at the age of 14, and enrolled at Westminster School in 1773. He became an intelligent and cultured man, but led an extravagent life and fathered 15 children, all illigitimate. He served as High Sheriff of Cornwall (at the age of 23), and went on to become a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Linnean Society, a member of Parliament, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians, a Fellow of the Geological Society of London, a Fellow of the Society of Arts, and a Provincial Grandmaster of the Freemasons (for 54 years).

St. Aubyn eventually became a keen collector, and in 1794 he met and hired the well-known French mineralogist and expatriot, the Count de Bournon, as his part-time mineral curator. In 1799 St. Aubyn purchased two important mineral collections: The first (for £3,000) was that of Dr. William Babington (1756-1833), who had previously obtained his collection from John Stuart, the 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792). The second (for £100) was the fossil and mineral collection of Richard Greene (1716-1793) of Lichfield. St. Aubyn then merged these collections with his own.

On August 10, 1839 Sir John St. Aubyn died at Lime Grove, Putney, in Surrey, at the age of 81. His body was conveyed through Devonport on August 23, on its way to Cornwall where it lay in state at St. Austell, Truro and Clowance. On August 29 he was buried, with great ceremony, in the family vault in Crowan parish church.

The British mineral dealer Isaiah Deck (1792-1853) had been retained by St. Aubyn in 1834 to divide his collection for ultimate disposal. Deck first made up two small collections, one for Sir John's wife, Julianna (Vinecombe), Lady St. Aubyn, and one for his daughter, Mrs. Parnell. He then assembled "a very beautiful and extensive collection" for the Civil and Military Library Museum in Devonport—a collection which today is preserved in the Plymouth City Museum. Other specimens were obtained by the Saffron Walden Museum, and the remainder were auctioned off.

Many of St. Aubyn's specimens carry small, glued-on catalog numbers which correllate with entries in his catalog, prepared by de Bournon. Some specimens carry glued-on Babbington labels which correllate with entries in Babbington's own catalog.

For more information see the Plymouth Museum website at www. plymouth.gov.uk/museumstaubyncollection

References:
SHEPHERD, J. (2008) Personal communication. Jess Shepherd is the Natural History Project Assistant on the St. Aubyn Project for the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery. Interested parties may contact her at Jessica.Shepherd@plymouth.gov.uk.
COOPER, M.P. (2006) Robbing the Sparry Garniture; A 200-year History of British Mineral Dealers. Mineralogical Record, Inc. Tucson, Arizona, 358 p.
WILSON, W.E. (1994) The history of mineral collecting 1530 to 1799. Mineralogical Record, 25 (6), 264 p.
HARTLEY, D (1977) The St. Aubyns of Cornwall, 1200 to 1977. Barracuda Books.
TREGELLAS, W.H. (1884) Cornish Worthies: Sketches of Some Eminent Cornish Men. E. Stock.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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Number of labels found: 6 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 6

The Mineralogical Record - John St. Aubyn A label glued onto a St. Aubyn specimen, probably by Count de Bournon as part of his curatorial work for St. Aubyn.
The Mineralogical Record - John St. Aubyn A label glued onto a St. Aubyn specimen, probably by Count de Bournon as part of his curatorial work for St. Aubyn.
The Mineralogical Record - John St. Aubyn A label (top) glued onto a St. Aubyn specimen, probably by Count de Bournon as part of his curatorial work for St. Aubyn. The lower label is thought to have been attached at the Devonport Museum by a Mr. J. Prideaux; it uses the Allen system of classification.
The Mineralogical Record - John St. Aubyn Probably a Greene or Bute label glued on a St. Aubyn specimen.
The Mineralogical Record - John St. Aubyn Probably a Greene or Bute label blued on a St. Aubyn specimen.
The Mineralogical Record - John St. Aubyn Probably a Greene or Bute label glued on a St. Aubyn specimen.
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