& Aastha Joshi


John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury, 4th Baronet, known as Sir John Lubbock, 4th Baronet from 1865 until 1900, was an English banker, liberal politician, scientist, philanthropist and polymath. Lubbock worked in his family company as a banker but made significant contributions in archaeology, ethnography, and several branches of biology. He coined the terms “Paleolithic” and “Neolithic” to denote the Old and New Stone Ages, respectively. He helped establish archaeology as a scientific discipline, and was also influential in nineteenth-century debates concerning evolutionary theory. He introduced the first law for the protection of the UK’s archaeological and architectural heritage. He was also a founding member of the X Club. John Lubbock was born in 1834, the son of Sir John Lubbock, 3rd Baronet, a London banker, and was brought up in the family home of High Elms Estate, near Downe in Kent. The family had two homes, one at 29 Eaton Place, Belgrave Square where John was born and another in Mitcham Grove. Lubbock senior had studied mathematics at Cambridge University and had written on probability, and on astronomy. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was keenly involved in the scientific debates of the time apart from serving as the Vice Chancellor of London University. In 1845, Lubbock began studies at Eton college. After finishing school, he was employed by his father’s bank, of which he became a partner at the age of twenty-two. Around 1852, he assisted Darwin’s research by examining and illustrating barnacles. In 1865, he succeeded to the baronetcy.

In the early 1870s, Lubbock became increasingly interested in politics. In 1870, and again in 1874, he was elected as a Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Maidstone. He lost the seat at the election of 1880, but was at once elected member for London University, of which he had en vice chancellor since 1872 As an MP, Lubbock had a distinguished political career, with four main political agendas: promotion of the study of science in primary and secondary schools; the national debt, free trade, and related economic issues; protection of ancient monuments; securing of additionalholidays and shorter working hours for the working classes. He was successful with numerous enactments in Parliament, including the Bank. Holidays Act of 1871 and the Ancient Monuments Act of 1882, along with another 28 acts of Parliament. When the Liberals split in 1886 on the issue of Irish Home Ruler, Lubbock joined the breakaway Liberal Unionist Party in opposition to Irish home rule. A prominent supporter of the Statistical Society, he took an active part in criticizing the encroachment of municipal trading and the increase of the municipal debt. Lubbock’s thoughts about the nature and value of politics were deeply influenced by his scientific research, particularly his writings on early human society. He believed that the cognitive foundations of morality could be shaped through political economy, particularly through a national education system that implemented subjects mandated by the state. He held that the minds of children could be shaped in the direction of democracy, liberalism and morality through learning how to read and write. To this goal he was a strong supporter of the national education act of 1871 In 1879, Lubbock was elected the first president of the Institute of Bankers. In 1881, he was president of the British Association, and from 1881 to 1886, president of the Linnean Society of London. In March 1883, he founded the Bank Clerks Orphanage, which in 1986 became the Bankers’ Benevolent Fund – a charity for bank employees, past and present, and their dependants. and he defended the introduction of the national curriculum during the 1870s and 1880s. In addition to his work at his father’s bank, Lubbock took a keen interest in archaeology and evolutionary theory. In 1855, he and Charles Kingsley discovered the skull of a musk ox in a gravel pit, a discovery that was commended by Darwin A collection of Iron Age antiquities Lubbock and Sir John Evans excavated at the site of Hallstatt in Austria is now in the British Museum’s collection He spoke in support of the evolutionist Thomas Henry Huxley at the famous 1860 Oxford evolution debate.. During the 1860s, he published many articles in which he used archaeological evidence to support Darwin’s theory. In 1864, he became one of the founding members of the elite X Club, a dining club composed of nine gentlemen to promote the theories of natural selection and academic liberalism. During the 1860s he held a number of influential academic positions, including President of the Ethnological Society from 1864 to 1865,Vice-President of Linnean Society in 1865, and President of the International Congress of Prehistoric Archaeology in 1868. In 1865 he published Pre-Historic Times, which became a standard archaeology textbook for the remainder of the century, with the seventh and final edition published in 1913. His second book, On the Origin of Civilization, was published in 1870. During 1871, he purchased part of the Avebury estate to protect its prehistoric stone monuments from impending destruction. During the early 1870s, he held the position of President of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland from 1871 to 1872, [13 as well as the position of Vice President of the Royal Society in 1871. During this period he worked with John Evans, the other key figure in the establishment of the discipline of archaeology. He invented the ms “Palaeolithic” and “Neolithic” to denote the Old and New Stone Ages, [14] respectively. He also introduced a Darwinian-type theory of human nature and development. In 1871, he bought land at Avebury to prevent part of the ancient stone circle from being built on. This, and other threats to the nation’s heritage, persuaded him that some legal protection was needed. In 1874, he introduced a parliamentary bill that would identify a list of ancient sites that deserved legal protection. After several later attempts and against some opposition, it was not until 1882 that a much watered down version, The Ancient Monuments Act, came into being. Though restricted to 68 largely prehistoric monuments it was the forerunner of all later laws governing the UK’s archaeological and architectural heritage. In 1893, Lubbock was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.