Friday, February 15, 2013

Sir John Lubbock - Eric Avebury's great grandfather

The other day the Guardian interviewed the Liberal Democrat peer Eric Avebury as part of a feature on people who are still working past the ago of 80. In it he said:
On my 80th birthday, I said I am never going to retire and I have stuck to that. It would have been a great disadvantage if I didn't have work. People who don't do anything after a certain age decline – the lack of mental stimulation has a bearing on your physical side too.
And he demonstrated his continuing activity by writing a piece for Liberal Democrat Voice on the plight of gay asylum seekers.

By chance today I came across an article about Sir John Lubbock who, by my calculation, is Eric Avebury's great grandfather. As it says, Lubbock was a banker and a politician, but as it is on the Royal Society site it is most interested in his career as a scientist:
In 1842 Charles Darwin moved in to Down House near to the Lubbock family home of High Elms. Despite his initial disappointment (Lubbock later recalled that when his father came home with the promise of ‘great news,’ he had rather hoped his father was going to announce that he was getting a pony rather than hailing the arrival in the neighbourhood of an eminent scientist), young John soon found a mentor and comrade in his dyspeptic neighbour and became a regular visitor to Down, applying his burgeoning work ethic to the study of natural history and biology.
The Royal Society is holding an event to honour Sir John Lubbock - Avebury's Circle: the Science of John Lubbock FRS (1834-1913) - on 23 March.

Finally a note on names. Sir John Lubbock became the 1st Baron Avebury and Eric Avebury, the 4th Baron Avebury, began life as Eric Lubbock. Under that name he was famous as the winner of the Orpington by-election in 1962.

That was my problem with 18th-century history at school: politicians changed names halfway their careers and unless you could cope with that you were lost. I never did work out where Godolphin had sprung from.

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