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Christy, Henry

CHRISTY, HENRY (1810-1865), English ethnologist, was born at Kingston-on-Thames on the 26th of July 1810. He entered his father's firm of hatters, in London, and later became a director of the London Joint-Stock Bank. In 1850 he started on a series of journeys, which interested him in ethnological studies. Encouraged by what he saw at the Great Exhibition of 1851, Christy devoted the rest of his life to perpetual travel and research, making extensive collections illustrating the early history of man, now in the British Museum. He travelled in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, British Columbia and other countries; but in 1858 came the opportunity which brought him fame. It was in that year that the discoveries by Boucher de Perthes of flint-implements in France and England were first held to have clearly proved the great antiquity of man. Christy joined the Geological Society, and in company with his friend Edouard Lartet explored the caves in the valley of the Vézère, a tributary of the Dordogne in the south of France. To his task Christy devoted money and time ungrudgingly, and an account of the explorations appeared in Comptes rendus (Feb. 29th, 1864) and Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London (June 21st, 1864). He died, however, on the 4th of May 1865, of inflammation of the lungs supervening on a severe cold contracted during excavation work at La Palisse, leaving a half-finished book, entitled Reliquiae Aquitanicae, being contributions to the Archaeology and Palaeontology of Perigord and the adjacent provinces of Southern France; this was issued in parts and completed at the expense of Christy's executors, first by Lartet and, after his death in 1870, by Professor Rupert Jones. By his will Christy bequeathed his magnificent archaeological collection to the nation. In 1884 it found a home in the British Museum. Christy took an earnest part in many philanthropic movements of his time, especially identifying himself with the efforts to relieve the sufferers from the Irish famine of 1847.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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