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The Rev. Tullie Cornthwaite

The Rev. Tullie Cornthwaite was born in 1807 and was the only son of Tullie Joseph Cornthwaite of London Wall. He matriculated to Trinity College, Oxford on 28th April 1824, aged 17 where he gained a BA in 1828 and MA in 1830. The 'Oxford Historical Register' records that he achieved second class honours in classics in 1827 and this would certainly explain the number of latin entries in his Wild Flowers volumes. The Clergy of the Church of England database records him as made Deacon and licensed Curate in 1830 and Priest in 1831. The years after this period are a little unclear but it will hopefully be possible to ascertain when he moved to the his house in Walthamstow and when his affiliation with the Forest School began by looking at dated collections surrounding his house, The Forest.

Specimen from Tullie Cornthwaite's 1861 Wild Flowers volume noted as "From the Livingstone Expedition, R. Zambese. "Silver Trees" abundant at Cape and Table Mountain. Although abundant in Cornthwaite's time Leucadendron argenteum L. R. Br. in the Proteaceae is a rare South African endemic found only on the slopes of Table Mountain.

Currently there are eight volumes of 'Wild Flowers' attributed to this interesting and somewhat unknown collector. The collections are very variable with both wild and cultivated plants represented. Cornthwaite was clearly connected with some of the leading scientists of the day and his vouchers reflect this communication. The famous Loddiges nursery in Hackney was down the road from his home in Walthamstow and such a collection of exotics from around the world must have been irresistible. Several of his vouchers are from this nursery and are examples of the first introductions into cultivation of plants such as Eucalyptus pulverulenta dating from 1820, only one year after the specimen was described in the literature. Many of Cornthwaite's collections are referred to in John Claudius Loudon's Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum, including cultivated vouchers from The Chelsea Physic Garden under the curation of John Fairbairn, the Whiteknights estate (now Reading University Whiteknights campus) and William Curtis's Brompton Garden.

Many of the collections are well documented, often with localities and dates and sometimes with correspondance and additional information such as quotes from leading botanists or snippets of information from books or news paper clippings. His collections very much reflect his background and are often from religous site or historic Abbeys or homes. There are numerous latin quotes throughout his volumes and some work is needed to translate them.

This is part of a collection that the Rev. T. Cornthwaite brought from Switzerland in 1827 and probably dates to the 1790's. The above page lists the collectors and localities of the collections. The resulting specimens are found in groups or interleaved into the volumes of wildflowers and throughout the Charterhouse School Herbarium.

Above is a typical Rev. T Cornthwaite collection of Bidens cernua "gathered in the Eclipse" by WCO 13th Sept. 1867 in the Forest. WCO are the initials of William Cotton Oswell wrote the following on hearing of the death of Cornthwaite:

“Tullie is dead – the very best educated man I ever met in my life, & one of the most generous, hospitable, & modest”.
“Tullie Cornthwaite was a naturalist, theologian, artist, geologist, archaeologist, philologist, a learned collector of books, shells, butterflies, minerals, coins, a master of six languages besides his own, & with all this as eager to receive information as he was to give it. Living in a delightful rambling old house – The Forest, Walthamstow – for the benefit, apparently, of the countless friends who flocked round him, he [illegible word] himself of his wealth to do good all[?] any with both hands – here a loan, there a gift, here a church built, there a young man sent travelling or to college, a sick person to the seaside or abroad. Throughout the summer he give a series of lavish entertainments to nurses, hospital patients, poor children. Always a student, never a man of action, it is not to be wondered at that his views on certain subjects were diametrically opposed to those of William Oswell. This was notably the case on that of the education of boys, he holding strongly that private & home tuition was the better plan, Oswell as strongly advocating the boarding-school system, though fully recognising & admitting its defects. Neither succeeded in moving the other from his position, but when Oswell was about to send his eldest boy to school, W Cornthwaite, who was his godfather, with graceful touching generosity, begged to be allowed to make himself responsible for his education on the lines laid down by his father. Needless to add, the offer was declined.”