By Bernard Verdcourt
(Part 1.) No. 69, pp. 147–153, published June 1979; (Part 2.) No. 70, pp.165–167, published September 1979; (Part 3.) No. 80, pp. 358–366, published March 1982; (A further note.) No. 131, p. 424, published December 1994.
My second Presidential Address dealt with some of the early collectors of non-marine Mollusca in East Africa. This proved too rambling a discourse to prepare for publication. Many of these collectors were well-known travellers whose lives are very completely documented but about others little or nothing is known. When I first arrived in East Africa I worked at Amani in the East Usambara Mts., Tanzania, formerly an extensive area of beautiful rain forest where quite a number of interesting snails, particularly Streptaxidae, were to be found; this is now largely destroyed for tea estates and many species must be virtually or quite extinct.
I was naturally interested in previous collectors who had visited the area. The German Leopold Conradt and the Englishman Alfred Eugene Craven were particularly mentioned in the literature. I could find out nothing about Conradt but a little is known concerning Craven. One of his main claims to fame is a paper in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London for 1880 describing new species he had collected in the Usambaras; the paper was well-prepared and beautifully illustrated (by A. H. Searle) and it is clear that Craven had a good knowledge of African non-marine molluscs. He also published 14 other papers including a revision of Sinusigera which is I suppose the most important.
You will not find the genus Sinusigera D’Orb. in Thiele or other such references although in earlier works such as H. & A. Adams it is noted and figured. Even when Craven wrote his revision there was a controversy over the nature of this presumed genus of pelagic shells, some workers contending that they were larvae. Craven was well aware of this but had collected large numbers during his years at sea and their occurrence in vast numbers, the shells all identical in appearance, swayed him in his belief that they must be good species; he erred in good company. He later himself showed that he had been wrong and that they were indeed but larvae of a whole range of different Gastropods after all. Two short notes give this correction.
If ever one needed confirmation that the only thing that really survives one is work then Craven’s life supplies it. I have found out virtually nothing concerning his private life but his work survives as a permanent record.
I have entirely failed to find out where or exactly when he was born. A search of the records at St. Catherine’s House including births at sea, births abroad registered at consulates and the army lists failed to reveal any information. The Deaths Register records that he died at Hastings aged 87 on the 4th. March 1937. He must therefore have been born in 1849 or 1850. Although the records give details of two A. Cravens being in each of these years at Keighley, Leeds, Nantwich and Birmingham there is no record of an A. E. Craven. His second christian name and the fact that he obviously spoke and wrote French quite well hints at a connection with a Francophone country; perhaps his mother was French or Belgian. He mentions two Belgian friends in his papers (‘mon ami E. vanden Broeck’ and ‘my-friend M. Jules Colbeau’). My attempts to prove that he might have been born in Belgium have met with no success, but he certainly lived there for a time.
Some of his early life was spent at sea as an officer onboard ship; it is clear from his papers that as a result he travelled very widely as he mentions the Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Southern Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean, Cochin, West coast of India, British Guiana, Brazil, Gulf of Bengal, etc.. There is evidence that he built up quite an extensive collection of molluscs during this period at sea. Some extracts from his papers are of interest. ‘Le 1er fevrier 1869 nous avons visité Adyar un de faubourgs de Madras --------. Il a supporté le voyage jusq’en Angleterre dans un vaisseau à voiles doublant le Cap de Bonne Espérance. D’Angleterre nous l’avons apporté en Belgique et le 4 nov. nous avons exhibé à la séance de la Société’. Discussing Hyalaea ‘Quoique j’aie fait des recherches dans toutes ces mers (----) à l’exception de Océan Pacifique je ne l’ai rencontré jusqua présent que dans l’Océan Austral dans les localités suivantes 38-39 S x 2-3 E, 34-35 S x 13-14 E, 38 S, 25 E et 38—38½ S x 56-57 E.’ ‘Ayant eu le bonheur pendant mes voyages en mer de recueillir un grand nombre de Sinusigera appartenant à seize espéces distinctes dont douze sont entiérement nouvelles.’ ‘Mes devoirs comme officier à bord des navires dans lesquels j’ai recueilli ces mollusques ne me permettaient guére de travailler autant que je l’aurais voulu. Je regrette surtout de n’avoir pu m’occuper que fort peu de l’organisation de l’animal.’ ‘Ma collection de Ptéropodes étant déjà trés considerable je ne me suis occupé, pendant deux années de voyages en mer, que de la récolte des êtres pélagiens microscopiques. Mes peines ont été récompensées par la capture d’une énorme quantité de mollusques de foraminiferes de radiolaires de crustacés etc.’ ‘Au mois de fevrier 1872 je me trouvais à Colombo ayant un jour de loisir que m’avait accordé le capitaine du navire ou j’etais troisiéme lieutenant.’
At an evening meeting of the Royal Geographical Society on November 25th. 1878, the Rev. J. P. Farler of the Universities’ Mission gave a lecture on the Usambara country. After the reading of this paper Craven rose and said he had had the pleasure of visiting Magila (a mission still, at the foot of Mt. Mlinga) during Mr. Farler’s residence there, and partaking of Mr. Farler’s hospitality for some little time. His object was to investigate the zoology of the region and acolimatise himself preparatory to a journey of exploration to the Lake Regions; but he was unfortunately overcome by sickness and forced to return to England. During the time that he was there (i.e. in Usambara) he was impressed by the great natural beauty of the country which well deserved its name of the ‘Switzerland of Africa’. He believed that every production of the tropics could be grown on its fertile soil. He had no doubt that higher up the mountains the climate was salubrious. His words were indeed prophetic since in 1902 the Germans established an agricultural research station at Amani and in the extensive surrounding plantations climbing 1000 to 3500 ft. practically every production of the tropics was indeed grown until a crazy then British administration chose to abandon the place and move to Nairobi. Higher up the mountains it was certainly salubrious, so much so that the German governor had a lodge at Wilhelmstal (now Lushoto) in the West Usambaras. Farler mentioned Craven during the lecture. ‘In September last year (i.e. 1877) Dr. Kirk (the celebrated British diplomat who was doctor and naturalist with Livingstone during the Zambesi Expedition and later Consul in Zanzibar) and Captain Wharton, accompanied by Lieutenant Gordon and Mr. Craven, visited Magila. They started from Tanga, spent several days at Magila, and then returned to Tanga via Umba. Captain Wharton noted the heights of the mountains near, and took observations fixing the latitude and longitude of Magila; while Dr. Kirk explored the hills and collected botanical specimens’. I suspect Craven went along with Kirk and collected snails. Kirk himself also collected many snails in eastern Africa.
More details of this ill-fated expedition to East Africa have emerged from some of Craven’s correspondence. Through the kindness of the archivist of the Royal Geographical Society I have been able to obtain copies of six letters written by Craven in a good legible hand to H. W. Bates (of Amazon fame) the assistant secretary at the time. By kind permission of the Director and Secretary I have been able to publish some of this material. The first on notepaper headed West Cliff Hotel, Folkestone and dated May 29th. 1877 begins ‘I am as you are aware going almost immediately to Eastern Africa hoping to start on Thursday June 7th. My object is to study the natural history (more especially the entomology and conchology) of the districts I visit. I have had experience in travel in Southern Africa (Natal, Transvaal, Orange Free State and Cape Colony), India, Australia and British Guiana and also had much practice in taking astronomical observations during several years spent at sea’.
He actually did leave U.K. for Zanzibar in June according to a brief mention in Petermann’s Geogr. Mitteilungen. He planned to go to Mpwapwa from Zanzibar and then proceed to Lake Tanganyika. He offered to do all he could to increase the geographical knowledge of the area concerned if the Exploration Committee would aid him with the necessary scientific instruments and also give him a grant. This was evidently agreed to since in Proc. Roy. Geogr. Soc. vol.22 (meeting 12th. Nov. 1877) there is mention of Mr. A. Craven now engaged on a Natural History Mission to Mpwapwa and beyond to whom the African Exploration Fund has made a grant in aid of 100 l to be paid on his arrival at the scene of his work.
The next letter is from Gibraltar dated June 26th. 1877 and apologising for not calling in on the previous Wednesday i.e. 20th. since June 26th. was a Tuesday. He complains that the chronometer he had been given was worse than useless having compared it with the ship’s chronometers. His next letter is from Zanzibar dated Aug. 25th. ‘I arrived here after 17 days detention at Aden owing to the loss of the B.I. Steamer ‘Cashmere’ that was to bring me from there to this place. Kirk had told him that it was useless for him to attempt to go towards the Lake Victoria Nyanza (I doubt if Kirk used that phrase since Nyanza means lake) without first learning some Swahili. It was on Kirk’s recommendation that he went to Magila some 30 miles from Pangani. ‘It is situated at the base of lofty hills’ (Mt. Mlinga which I could see from my window when I was living at Amani in 1950). He goes on to say that it appears to be a good place for a naturalist and he hopes to make a map and some description of the area. ‘When I return, to Zanzibar from Magila I hope to have learned sufficient Swahili to take me into the interior but in order to make a good start I should be very glad of the 100 l the Society granted me. I expect to be three or four months at Magila and should it be possible I should much like to find it here on my return.’
His expedition was, however, not to be. The fourth letter is headed Brookfield House, Folkestone and dated Feb. 24th. 1878. ‘You will no doubt have heard from Rutherford of my return to England with that horrid complaint of dysentery which I cannot shake off.’ He describes his intense disappointment at having to give up the expedition and speaks of the great kindness of Dr. Kirk. He also asks if he should prepare a paper for the Geographical but points out that he has been over no new ground. ‘I shall be much obliged if you can give me any hints or advice about this as I am new at writing anything for publication excepting descriptions of new shells, etc. I have collected a good number of land shells many of which I believe to be undescribed and new to science and which I shall of course write about.’ He continues ‘I suppose you do not frequent Folkestone at this time of year but if you do happen to be coming down please let me know. I shall always remember that it was you who introduced me to Horniman and shall always be grateful for what you have done for me and am only too sorry that I have failed in my undertaking’.
The remaining two letters one just dated Monday (but obviously Nov. 25th.) and the other Nov. 1878 are very short. One asks if he will be able to get ‘a seat anywhere near this evening to hear Mr. Farler’s paper? If you think it of any good I might say a few words afterwards’ (note that there was no doubt that a letter posted in Folkestone would arrive in London early the same day). As we have seen he did say a few words: the molluscs he mentions were described. The final letter asks about some rooms in Hanover Square which Bates had obviously told him about and he wanted to make an appointment to see Bates about them. This address does not appear in the list I give below but he may well have lived there also.
Craven moved about a great deal. In 1875 he was living at Kenwood-bank, Sharrow, Sheffield and later at Brookfield House, Folkestone; in 1879 and January 1881 he was at 36, Princes’ Gate but in 1880 his address is given as 132 Cambridge Street, Warwick Square, SW. From later in 1881 he was at 65, St. George’s Road, SW. until 1889 but in 1890 he had moved to 32, Warwick Square, SW. I expect he had a few more moves before 1912 when he was living at Hastings; there he moved once and seems to have lived for 20 years until 1935 at 34 Ashburnham Grove, Clive Vale, Hastings. His final residence from 1936—7 was 18 Upper Park Road, St. Leonards on Sea until his death.
There is little information about his further collecting activities after his East African expedition. In 1877 he collected snails on the Riffelalp near Zermatt at 2100 m. and was in Switzerland again in 1879 ‘ayant passé une grand partie de lété dernier dans la vallée de la Kander dans l’Oberland bernois’ (clearly he was not poor then!). In 1890 he was at the ruins of Vianden Castle in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
There are in the Zoology Library of the British Museum (Nat. Hist.) three letters from Craven written to Dr. Gunther the then Keeper of Zoology. Since they are short and fill in a few more details I repeat them in full. All were written from 132 Cambridge Street, Warwick Square, S.W. The first (Zoology Archives: Letters Vol. 17 1880 no. 114) is dated Oct. 1st. ‘Dear Dr. Gunther, You kindly gave me a few days to think over what you told me the other day and after due consideration and by the advice of my mother I have decided upon accepting the appointment at the Museum as a junior should you still consider me worthy enough to offer me that alternative. If you give me this appointment I shall be deeply grateful to you and you may depend upon my always doing my has best to satisfy you and my superiors. A sailor’s life taught me discipline and the love of Natural History will soon teach me to forget the liberty I should be giving up. As the museum is being cleaned I am working at home this week but will of course go there at once should you send me word that you wanted me. Hoping that through your kindness I may soon belong to the museum. I remain dear Dr. Gunther yours sincerely and obediently’.
That he did not obtain a post is clear from his second letter dated Oct. 3rd. (1880 no. 115). ‘Dear Dr. Gunther, Many thanks for your kind letter and for the assurances it contains for the future. Of course I am disappointed but will hope for better luck before very long. Believe me to be yours most truly.’ On the face of it Gunther appears to have gone back on his word but I do not know what the alternative to museum employment could have been. The third letter (1881 no. 105) is dated Sept. 26th. and is from the same address. ‘Dear Dr. Gunther, It is with great regret that I write to tell you that I have had another bad attack of dysentery and am quite on my beam ends. My doctor advises perfect rest and consequently I intend going down to the country to follow his advice. He holds out hopes that a few weeks of this quiet combined with physic will put me to rights again. I am so sorry that I shall again have to put off working at the Pteropods, but hope when cured to be able to set to work with renewed vigour. I remain yours most truly and obediently’. The fact that the first letter is signed yours sincerely and the other two yours most truly suggests that Craven was hurt at not obtaining a post in the Museum.
He belonged to several societies, being elected to the Linnean Society on 16 Dec. 1875, the Royal Geographical Society in the same year and the Zoological Society of London. He was, struck off the Linnean Society list on 15 June 1891 but was later re-elected on 21 Nov. 1912. I have not managed to find an obituary of him but his death was reported by the Linnean Society as 4 March 1937. He resigned from the Royal Geographical Society in 1890 and was dropped from the membership lists of the Zoological Society after 1891. He was a member of the Conchological Society in 1886 and continues to be listed in the List of Members for 1891, 1892 and 1893 but is missing from the 1894 list.
He joined the Société Malacologique de Belgique in 1869 when there were very few members and the address lists help to fill in quite a few years of his life in a very skeletal kind of way. His address on joining was ‘rue du Champ de Mars 3, Ixelles—Bruxelles’ and he was still there in 1871 his style being given as ‘officier dans l’armée anglais’. My attempts to obtain further information about this have met with no success. The Army Historical branch and the India Office Library and Records has no records of him as a commissioned Officer. From 1872 to 1874 he is listed as ‘Officier dans l’armée anglaise — Bombay (Hindoustan)’ but in 1875 as ‘Membre de diverse Société savantes’ with the address Brookfjeld House, Folkestone, Kent. London addresses follow until 1891 when he is again given a Brussels address, namely ‘rue de L’Ermitage 82, Ixelles—Bruxelles’ but he does not appear to have attended any of the séances during that year. He was still in Brussels during 1892 and attended the séances on 5 March, 2 April and 2 May but made excuses for his absence on 3 December. He was still in Brussels in 1893 but did not attend any meetings and he is missing from the 1894 list of members and there is no reason given for his leaving the Society which now had a considerable membership. On at least one occasion he visited Brussels to attend a séance whilst he was living in London, that on 4 February 1883 when he read his Sinusigera note which I have commented on elsewhere. At a séance on 2 Dec. 1869 at which Craven was present, under an item ‘Communications et propositions diverses des membres’ the following was read. M. Craven annonce qu’il va prochainement se rendre en Angleterre et qu’il sera heureux de pouvoir rendre quelques services à la Société. Il est décidé qu’une délégation sera donnée à M. Craven au nom de la Société à l’effet de chercher à nouer des relations avec les Sociétés scientifiques de ce pays.’
The late Arthur Blok told me he bought a lot of shells in 1950 that contained several lots originally from Craven’s collection and had a record that this collection was sold by auction (Athenaeum, Apr. 1891, 523 and Nature, 1891, cxcv). These references led me to a sale notice. This I am repeating verbatim. ‘No. 3313 April 25 ‘91. Tuesday and Wednesday next, Natural History Specimens, Books and etc. Mr. J. C. Stevens will sell by auction at his Great Rooms, 38 King Street, Covent Garden on Tuesday and Wednesday next April 28 and 29 at half past 12 o’clock precisely the collection of shells formed by A. E. Craven Esq. together with the cabinets a small collection of sea and rare land shells from the Andaman Islands including the rare Cultellus lacteus and etc. Curiosities from Africa, South Sea Islands and other parts, British and Exotic Lepidoptera including many fine varieties in splendid condition, Bird and animal skins, Eggs, Heads and horns, Skulls, minerals etc. Also a fine lot of Natural History and other books. On view the day prior 10 till 4 and morning of sale and catalogues had’. Mr. D. B. Janson has a copy of this catalogue ‘Sale No. 8370-71’ but unfortunately it does not contain any information on buyers or prices. The British Museum accessions book for 1891 lists ‘91.3.7. 1—89. Types from Mr. A. E. Craven’s collection purchased of H. Sartoris Esq., Weekly, Kettering, Northamptonshire’ also ‘91.3.8. 1—15 presented by A. E. Craven’. His collection must have been a nice neat one judging by the beautifully written specially printed labels which remain on the boxes of some of the types now in the British Museum (Nat. Hist.). Others are doubtless scattered throughout many collections, certainly some in the collection of Arthur Blok now in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and according to Dance some also at Brussels.
Linking this sale of his collection with his resignation or worse from several societies one can only assume that he fell upon hard times; it is probable that this was when he moved away from London. It seems less likely that he suddenly lost his taste for natural history.
During his last year at St. Leonards at least he must have known J. R. Le B. Tomlin and Blok in his letter to me obliquely confirms this by adding that Tomlin once told him Craven was a heavy drinker but this scarcely fits in with his 87 years. The term is of course a very relative one.
His name is perpetuated in Achatina craveni E. A. Smith, 1881, a new name for A. kirkii E. A. Smith, 188O which is a later homonym of A. kirkii Craven.
By Bernard Verdcourt
|1869.||Observations sur l’Helix ligulata Fér. de Madras. Annls. Soc. malac. Be1g. 4: 93–95.|
|1869.||Resultats d’une excursion malacologique faite à Ostende les 6 et 7 Novembre. Op. cit. 4: xcviii–ci (with Malzine, F. de).|
|1870.||Mollusques terrestre et fluviatiles recueillis en Suisse. Op. cit. 5: lii–liv.|
|1873||Quelques observations sur le Hyalaea tridentata Lamarck. Op. cit. 8: 70–72, pl. 3. (gives radula drawing)|
|1877.||Monographie du genre Sinusigera d’Orb. Op. cit. 12: 105–127. pl.2/1-5, pl.4/1-6 (three coloured, plates)|
|1879.||Mollusques recueillis en Suisse en 1879. Op. cit.: 1: lxxxv–lxxvii.|
|1880.||Une journée malacologique é Colombo, Ceylon. Op. cit.: 15: xciii–xcviii.|
|1880.||Descriptions of three new species of land and freshwater shells from Nossi-Bé Island (N.W. coast of Madagascar). Proc. zool. Soc. Lond. 1880: 215–216, p1.12/5, 8, 10.|
|1880.||On a collection of land and freshwater shells made during a short expedition to the Usambara Country in Eastern Africa with descriptions of seven new species.Op. cit.: 216–219, pl.12/1-4, 6, 7, 9.|
|1880.||On a collection of land and freshwater shells from the Transvaal and Orange Free State in South Africa, with descriptions of nine new species.Op. cit.: : 614–618, p1.57/1—6, 10—12.|
|1880.||Description of three new species of land-shells from Cape Colony and Natal. Op. cit.: : 618–619, p1.57/7, 8, 9.|
|1882.||Liste d’une collection malacologique provenant de Landana près de l’embouchure du Congo (Afrique occidentale). Annls. Soc. malac. Be1ge 17: 15–19.|
|1883.||Note sur le genre Sinusigera. Op. cit.: 18: xxv–xxvi.|
|1883.||On the genus Sinusigera. Ann. Mae. nat. Hist. (5)11: 141–142.|
|1888.||Note sur Helix harpa Say. Journ. de Conchyl. (3)28(=36): 1O1–103.|
|1891.||Notes on the viviparous nature of Balea. Journ. Conch. 6: 421–422 (with Smith E A. – actually two separate notes not a joint paper).|
|Sur les variétés du Purpura (Cuma) coronata, Lmk., et sur la position systématique du Melongena fusiformis Blainv. Annls. Soc. malac. Belge 27: xxiii—xxvi.|
These are listed alphabetically under the generic names used by Craven. Where I am certain of the modern name for these species I have added it in parenthesis afterwards.
|Achatina kirkii||1880,||Tanzania, Magila. (Pseudoglessula leroyi fasciata Connolly).|
|Achatina mamillata||1880,||Madagascar, Nossi-Bé.(Subulina m. ).|
|Achatina smithi||1880,||S.Africa (Same.)|
|Ancylus transvaalensis||1880,||S. Africa. (Burnupia t.).|
|Bulimus magilensis||1880,||Tanzania, Magila. (Euonyma m.).|
|Bullia (Pseudostrombus) fuscus||1882,||Cabinda, Landana.|
|Corbicula oliophantensis||1880,||S. Africa. (C. africana (Krauss) var. albida (Krauss)).|
|Cyclophonus magilensis||1880,||Tanzania, Magila. (Maizania sp. type is juvenile and too poor to identify).|
|Cyclotus alabastris||1880,||S. Africa. (Chondrocyclus a.).|
|Ennea crassilabris||1880,||S. Africa. (Gulella c.)|
|Ennea infans||1880,||S. Africa. (Gulella i.)|
|Helix symmetrica||1880,||S. Africa. (Sheldonia s.)|
|Helix usambarica||1880,||Tanzania, Magila. (Tayloria u.)|
|Helix zanguebarica||1880,||Tanzania, Magila and Zanzibar (Afropunctum z–um.)|
|Lanistes farleri||1880,||Tanzania, Magila. (Same).|
|Nassa (Hima) weyersii||1882,||Cabinda, Landana.|
|Paludina colbeaui||1880,||Madagascar, Nossi-Bé (type looks rather like a Cleopatra to me but card in index bears Viviparous in Connolly’s handwriting).|
|Phasianella petiti||1882,||Cabinda, Landana.|
|Physa lirata||1880,||S. Africa. (Bulinus tropicus (Krauss)).|
|Pupa cafaeicola||1880,||Madagascar, Nossi-Bé. (?Gulella, not in type collection at BM).|
|Pupa (Vertigo) sinistrorsa||1880,||S. Africa. (Pupilla tetrodus O. Bttgr.)).|
|Pupa usambarica||1880,||Tanzania, Magila (Gulella u.).|
|Sinusigera broekiana||1877,||Indian Ocean.|
|Sinusigera dubia||1877,||Indian Ocean.|
|Sinusigera dubia var. costata||1877,||Indian Ocean.|
|Sinusigera fusiformis||1877,||Indian Ocean.|
|Sinusigera minima||1877,||W. India.|
|Sinusigera nysti||1877,||Indian Ocean.|
|Sinusigera perversa||1877,||Cochin, W. India, etc.|
|Sinusigera reticulata||1877,||Cochin, W. India, etc.|
|Sinusigera rosea||1877,||Cochin, W. India, etc.|
|Sinusigera striata||1877,||Cochin, W. India, Indian Ocean, etc.|
|Sinusigera tecturina||1877,||Indian Ocean.|
|Vitrina transvaalensis||1880,||S. Africa. (Shedonia t.).|
|Vitrina vandenbroeckii||1880,||S. Africa. (Shedonia b.).|
By Bernard Verdcourt
Mainly as a result of some hours of work in Brussels during February 1980 on a file unearthed by Dr. Jackie van Goethem of the Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique, I am able to give a good deal more information about A.E. Craven to supplement my original article (antea, 1979 69: 151 and 70: 165–167); but I still do not know when or where he wes born nor the names of his parents!
By enquiries at the Registrar of Births and Deaths at Bohemia Road, Hastings, I obtained a copy of the death entry. This gives sparse information to the effect that Alfred Eugene Craven died at 18 Upper Park Road on 6th. January 1937, aged 87 years, of independent means, from haemorrhage, carcinoma of lung and epithelioma of the lip, certified by John Walker LRCP and that his son Charles A. Craven of 41 Baldry Gardens, Streatham, S.W.16 (off the Streatham High Road) was in attendance.
As a long shot I thought perhaps some descendents of the son might still be in London, 43 years later. I therefore circularised every Craven listed in the London telephone directory but despite a surprisingly full response no-one claiming A.E. Craven as a forebear answered. It became clear that formerly two main branches of the family existed, one in Ireland and the other in Yorkshire and that basically the name is a Yorkshire one. So at least we know that Craven had a son.
The British Library, Newspaper Library at Colindale searched the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer around about the date of Craven’s death but no notices of it could be found.
Just before I went over to Brussels Dr. Peter Lingwood sent me a short note on Craven he had prepared for the Newsletter but my findings modified this and he agreed to its incorporation here.
It is clear that A.E. Craven intended to describe the Pteropoda and Heteropoda collected during the historic oceanographic voyage of H.M.S. "Challenger" between 1872 and 1876. Sir Wyville Thomson (1830–1882), the Director of the Civilian Scientific Staff and one of the original motivators of the expedition, was charged with the task of publishing the discoveries of the voyage. Many of the authors selected were world authorities in their fields and obvious choices for such work. Craven presumably was numbered among these. since he was known to have a special interest in Pteropods and to have a good collection of them made during his years at sea; moreover he had already briefly published on them. It seems certain that A.C.L. Gunther (1830–1914), Keeper of Zoology at the British Museum, recommended Craven; the letters from Craven to Gunther referred to in my original account (page 151–152) would indicate this. It is difficult to establish when Craven agreed to describe the Challenger material but he is listed as an author in 1882 (Challenger Report 1885 1 pt. 2 Appendix 7).
In September 1881 Craven informed Gunther that his attacks of dysentery were delaying work on the Pteropoda – in fact it seems probable he did very little if anything with them and eventually the work was given to Paul Pelseneer (1863–1945) in 1883. Craven. may have had some influence in his selection, both having been members of the Societe Malacologique de Belgique and both having worked at the Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Belgique although Pelseneer would have been a very young man at the time. The Pteropoda reports were finished in 1888 (Challenger Reports 1887 Zoology 19 pt. 56, 1888 Zoology 23 pt. 65 & 66) and Pelseneer went on to describe the "Anatomy of the Deep Sea Mollusca" (Challenger Report i888 Zoology 28 pt. 74) and the "Genus Spirula" (Challenger Report 1895 Summary 2 pt. 83) with. T. H. Huxley (1825–1895). Craven did nothing with the Heteropods either, presumably due to deteriorating health; these were transferred in 1887 to A. E. Smith (1847–1916), then an Assistant in the Zoological Department but later to become Keeper in 1895.
Through the kindness of Janson I have been able to obtain a reproduction of the original catalogue of Sale No. 8370–71 at Mr. J.C. Stevens’ rooms held on 28th and 29th April 1891*. The title page runs as follows: "A catalogue/of the/Collection of Shells/formed by A.E. Craven, Esq.,/including the rare Bulimus labeo and other scarce species./Together with the Cabinets;/also a small collection of/ ----". The rest of the title seems to refer to other properties. The first 111 lots were all from Craven’s collection and include the following items chosen out of interest. The note preceding the enumeration of the lots states "All the shells in Lots 1 to 40 and Lots 49 to 111 are neatly mounted on black cardboard and enclosed in rectangular glass—topped boxes. All the species are named. Lot 3 Ennea planti, gouldi, crassidens, pfeifferi, dupuyana, ovoidea, obesa and wahlbergi, presumably collected by himself during his South African expedition. Lot 12 Bulimus labeo (a fine specimen). Lot 34 Otopoma balfouri, complanatum, clathratulum, Tudora marginalbum, quaternatum, Choanopoma fimbriatulum and others. Lot 35 Cyclophorus ni1aghericus, indicus, denselineatus, wahlbergi, strigatus, Leptopoma decipiens, Lithidion marmorosum and other species. Lot 70 Scalaria pretiosa 2,australis, clathrus, consors and other species of Scalaria. Lot 48 Argonauta tuberculata 2, Spirula in spirit and other shells. Lot 57 Fusus longicauda, Murex acanthopterus, Euthria lignaria and others. Lot 59 Harpa imperialis, rosea and nobilis. Lot 62 Marginella mosiaca, pjperata, adansoni, conoidalis, foryniculata, Erato nana and other species. All together the collection numbered at least 2000 species and probably more in the order of 4–5000.
*This copy has been deposited in the British Museum (Natural History) Mollusca Library, together with other notes, etc.
Presumably he could not have collected all these himself during his travels but I suspect quite a proportion were; not all his collection was disposed of at this sale. He gave most of his types to the British Museum and some specimens to other Museums. The British Museum at least obtained some specimens via buyers at the sale.
Unfortunately the Janson catalogue is practically unpriced, only a very few lots having the price pencilled in. Lot 40 Venus lamellata and many species of Venus, Tapes, Sphaerium, etc. contents of drawer fetched 10/-. Lot 74 – 270 well-made rectangular glass-topped boxes of various sizes 17/- (i.e. 3 farthings each – 0.3 new pence). Lot 75 – three trays containing 170 ditto 9/-. Lot 76, 248 ditto, contents of 2 drawers 20/-. Lot 77 – quantity of cork in sheets 7/-. Lot 78 – four entomological store boxes 5/-. Lot 79 – mahogany cabinet 5 feet 4 inches high, 4 feet 2 inches wide and 22 inches back to front, 32 drawers 2¾ inches deep inside in 2 tiers £5.10. Od. (A cabinet maker friend tells me this would cost at least £1600 today). Lot 80 – oak and deal cabinet 5 feet high, 3 feet 3 inches wide, 26 inches back to front, 24 drawers 16½ inches by 22½ inches, 3¼ inches deep inside, £2.15. Od. Lot 81 – companion to above £2.12. 6d. Lot 82 – Turbo elegans, cidaris, coronatus, Trochus radiatus, erythroeus, depictus, and many other species of Trochus, Turbo, Neritina, etc. 8/-. Lot 83 – Patella compressa, umbella, Chiton gigas, garnotii, capensis, squamosus, virgulatus, and others, about 38 species 6/- (i.e. less than 2d. each!).
The file at Brussels covers the period December 1891 to 2 October 1895 and contains a large amount of very detailed information concerning Craven’s work there and about a dozen letters written in his very neat and legible hand. It is clearly impossible to give this material at length and it would in any case be extremely boring. Craven seems to have gone over to Belgium soon after dropping out from or being struck off the lists of the Linnean and Zoological Societies. It seems cer¬tain this was due to financial distress and not because he was leaving England. It is clear that he must have spent some months of 1891 in Brussels since in the files part of the lists of work performed by Craven is headed Relevé des cocuilles vivantes révisées au 31 Décembre 1891 i.e. before he was officially employed. The molluscs revised total 138 species and 140 additional varieties in 50 genera contained in 50 "plateaux". These were all marine molluscs including Terebra, Conus (104 species), Cancellari, Oliva, Harpa, Marginella, Voluta, Lyria, Mitra, Fusus, Latirus, Buocinum, and such things. It must have taken him two to three months at the least.
The first letter in the file is a letter from Craven to the Director from 20 Rue de Paris, Bruxelles, dated 4 January 1892. It also bears a note from the Director to "M. le Conservateur Rulot" asking him to examine the proposition. There had obviously been some preliminary negotiations with a M. van den Broeck acting as an intermediary. Craven was offered ‘15 fr. for each revised plateau’ and was expected to complete 15 a month resulting in an ‘indemnité mensuelle’ of 225 fr. He accepted this offer and promised to revise an average of 15 a month and not to accept any other employment until the job was finished. Ho also proposed giving his collection of Pteropods to the museum "résultant de plusiers années de draguages en haute mer ayant fourni des specimens d’une fraicheur exceptionelle”. Rulot made his lengthy report on 10 January. After some comments on the state of the fossil molluso collections, he goes on to state that the living mollusc collections are in much need of revision, despite the fact that a N. Nyst had put them in order 20 years previously. Numerous changes in nomenclature and additional material obtained by gift, purchase and exchange, made him consider the time was ripe for a further revision and he supported the proposed engagement of M. Craven quite enthusiastically. The presence of Craven in Brussels for a certain time presented the Museum with "une occasion exceptionelle". Craven "ex—officier de la Marine anglaise" was described as having made a reputation by his publications on diverse groups of molluscs and employment at the British Museum to determine certain parts of their collection. The Director had presumably asked for some idea of the cost of the revision and the answer was 1200–1500 fr. Rulot makes a plea not to let opportunity pass. It seems likely Rulot was quite friendly with Craven and laid it on a bit in his reports. It is clear Craven got the job but no letter is present in the files. In February 1892 Craven sold 390 Pteropods to the Museum for 1500 fr. desoite the statement "je fais don au Musée" in his original letter. It seems someone was being generous since 1500 fr. at that time would have been worth £60, each specimen (or lot?) working out at about 3s.
A letter dated 20 April 1892 with no address and presumably written from the Museum is very interesting. He asks for permission for four days leave to go to Dover to collect his wife and children. It is the first intimation he had a family. He pointed out that he was well in advance of Dujardin and Leduc "aide-préparateurs" who were helping him and that he had worked over the Easter Holiday. He points out that with the exception of Friday he would come to the Museum every morning to make sure that all the specimens were orientated properly before being stuck down. He needed the 4 days to install his family. It is clear he was a conscientious worker.
There is a long report to the Minister in charge of the Museum dated 9 May 1892 from the Director pointing out that the established staff of a Museum were not always adequate for the work which needed doing and that they could not have specialist knowledge in all fields; it mentions that specialists had been used in entomology who gave their service free but others had worked on fossil whales and Carboniferous fossils and received remuneration; also that other Museums, notably the British Museum used external specialists on "une grande échelle" (!); it pointed out that the collection of living molluscs comprised 10000 species of which 8000 had been well determined by the late H. Nyst, Conservateur au Musée, but now needed some revision because ‘le science a marché’! The Director then mentions Craven, a distinguished specialist and explains the work he is doing "qui naturellement ne peut être gratuit" but asks the Minister’s "approbation d’une indemnité mensuelle de 9 livres sterling/225 fr." and estimates the task will take a year. Other help with Cretaceous fossils involved help from a palaeontologist from Maastricht and 250 fr., presumably his train fares to Brussels. It seems incredible that the expenditure of such small sums needed approbation from a Minister but this was how Europe ran efficiently in Victorian days. Government departments had not yet obtained a reputation for crass waste! The sum would now hardly pay for an hour’s private telephone calls on the part of staff in most modern scientific Government departments. This report is useful in giving a sterling equivalent since I had found difficulty in obtaining one for that date; at that time £2.25 a week was fair money for an ordinary worker but living in Brussels with a family would have been difficult without other funds.
Work seems to have proceeded well during 1892 according to the quite detailed lists which were kept; 16 plateaux were dealt with in January containing 202 species and 64 varieties which included such difficult lots as 59 Nassa, 51 Columbella and 53 Murex. During February he dealt with 11 plateaux; 87 species and 18 varieties – including 33 species of Purpura and the figures for March were 17 plateaux, 117 species (including 52 Triton and 26 Cassis) and 15 varieties. Clearly during these three months he had kept closely to the schedules he had originally suggested. Monthly figures are not available beyond March but are given for longer periods of time.
A brief note written to the Director on 16 September 1892 from 82 Rue de l’Hermitage tells that he has received news that his father is dying and that he is forced to return to England immediately. He promises to return quickly.
On 22 September 1892 M. Béclard the Museum Secretary, and also I think a friend of Craven, sent a note to the Director pointing out that up to 15 September Craven had revised 148 plateaux giving him the right on the terms laid down to 2220 fr. whereas he had received only 1500 fr. Would the Director please do the necessary to pay the 720 fr. owing. I do not understand the accounts and I came to the conclusion after wrestling with the file that no-one else did either. They are a junbled nightmare, mostly due to the peculiar basis on which they were decided. Either he was to receive 225 fr. a month or 225 fr. per 15 plateaux but to have a mixture of the two methods led to great confusion. On my reckoning in 8½ months Craven should have got 1912.5 fr. but Béclard was reckoning on him being paid per plateau which was obviously fairer. A note from the Ministry dated 17 October 1892 stated that before making a new payment to M. Craven he must know about the state of his work. Unfortunately the writing was dfficult and I could not understand some of the note but it suggests Craven was in arrears by 36 plateaux and the Director did not understand the accounts.
In a very well written letter from the Museum dated 16 November 1892, addressed to the Director, Craven explained (in response to an enquiry from the Director passed on by Béclard concerning the number of-plateaux revised) that the time taken to revise one plateau varied by considerable limits according to the taxonomic difficulty of the groups concerned and according to the number and size of the shells – the number per plateau could vary from 10–700! Very small shells each had to be examined under a lens. Moreover, he was carrying out additional work supplementary to the terms of the agreement in dealing with enormous numbers of duplicates which he reckoned amounted to the equivalent of 73 plateaux. He goes on to complain that the two preparators aiding him were frequently called away to other jobs and he had to do some of their tasks, such as washing specimens, himself. He promises that despite all the unfavourable circumstances surrounding the work he will at its conclusion be "absolument en règle avec le terme de mon engagement". He then details his work up to that date. Plateaux finished before my engagement 35; since engagement and already exposed in the galleries 115; awaiting labelling and glueing 14 – Total 164. He should have finished 165 since his engagement or 200 including those done before then, so he was actually 36 behind. Work seems then to have gone on smoothly and he accomplished a great deal between 1 April 1892 and 22 April 1893. A detailed "relevé des coquilles vivantes revisées" exists for this period. It shows that he revised 1673 species and 144 varieties contained in 120 plateaux; it includes 105 species of Cypraea, 35 Strombus, 45 Cerithium, 24 Turritella, 57 Melania, 34 Pleurocera, 34 Goniobasis, 57 Rissoia, 49 Ampullaria, 61 Natica, 30 Nerita, 37 Fissurella, 56 Neritina, 41 Patella, 42 Chiton, 34 Choanopoma, 73 Omphalotropis, 127 Helicina, 92 Ariophanta and smaller numbers of species of 182 other genera. To me this se~nis an incredible year’s work and he must have dealt with 6 species per day. A pencilled note at the end of the list totals the work done 1891 50 plateaux, Jan. 1892 16, Febr. 1892 11; Mar. 1892 17, then 120 up to Apr. 1893, altogether 214. It also mentions that revised duplicates totalled 91 plateaux.
The first dated document for 1893 is one from the Minister de l’interieur et de l’instruction publique to the Director dated 29 March 1893 stating that an account for 225 fr. due to Craven was not accompanied by a note of "approbation from the Director". It seems incredible now that two such high officials could correspond over £9.
A letter from Craven dated 5th May 1893 is on black-edged paper indicating that his father died between mid-September 1892 and the beginning of May 1893. I thought it might be possible to trace his father from the register of deaths for this period. He would have had to be over 60 and probably a good deal older. Even with this proviso there were 16 male Cravens over 60 who died during the period; all but one of them died in Northern England – a Charles aged 74 died in Brighton but I have not followed any of them up. The letter is headed Hotel des Ardennes, Diekirch (Luxembourg) and begs the Director to excuse his brusque departure and allow him his month of absence as agreed in their last conversation. He states that Dujardin was also absent so that his duties would not be inconvenienced by his leave. He states that he needs a change of air without which he will be unable to finish but hopes to return on the 1st of June restored for work. Another black-edged letter dated 5 September to M. Béclard from 82 rue de l’Ermitage states that he is still suffering and is going to London this evening to consult Sir Joseph Fayrer (1824–1907) who had cared for him when he returned from Central Africa. He would hasten back to his work as soon as he was capable of travelling. A note at the bottom of the letter notes that he returned to the museum on the 11th September 1893. A copy of a letter from Craven to the Director dated 13 September 1893, written from the museum, explains that he would not be able to finish the revision of the molluscs within the time fixed, because he did not know of the existence of a large number of species in the museum store not represented in the collections which had been thought to be duplicates and, also, because the museum had obtained a large number of shells after the installation in the galleries of the collection studied by M. Nyst. These facts and numerous other difficulties obliged him to ask for an extension of time until September 1894 and promises that if he has not finished by then any other necessary work would be completed on a voluntary basis, not only to complete the revision of the general collection and duplicates, but also the local collection of Belgian species. A report to the Minister dated 20th September 1893 from the Director points out that although the work which had been authorised was due for completion by that date (according to the original estimate of time by the Conservateur) "Ces estimations de durée pour des travaux intellectuals de cet ordre sont extrément difficiles parce qu’ils n’ont pas une marche uniform"! He therefore asks for permission to employ Craven for an extra year and encloses Craven’s original letter of 13 September with its guarantees. He recommends the acceptance of this extension and was clearly pleased with the way the collections were being put in order; he points out to the Minister that Craven’s revision "est tres bien faite" and that the ccllections were now at a level with the vanguard of science for a limited expenditure and that similar work could not possibly be obtained for a better price. It seemed, therefore, that Craven was all set, to work for his 225 fr. a month for another year but trouble of his own making was just ahead. A financial note dated 21 September 1893 details the money expended up to that date and is somewhat at variance with previous notes since it suggests Craven was engaged in December 1891. A new demand for credit of 2700 fr. is introduced to carry on until 31 August 1894, i.e. for 12 months at 225 fr. per month. The situation up to 22 April 1893 included 35 plateaux finished before his engagement, 15 finished up to 31 December 1891 and altogether 188 including 9 awaiting mounting. At 15 fr. each this amounted to 2820 fr. i.e. about £113. Craven had received 1350 fr. for the period 15 December 1891 to 15 June 1892, 675 fr. for 15 June 1892 to 15 December 1892 and 1350 fr. for 15 September 1892 to 15 March 1393 i.e. 3375fr. (£135) – by their reckoning he had had 555 fr. too much, equivalent to the 37 plateaux he was behind on 22 April 1893. If, however, the 91 plateaux of duplicates was counted then he would be due 4185 fr. and a further 810 fr. was due to him.
On 19th October the Minister’s secretary wrote to Director Dupont asking for the feelings of the conseil de surveillance (presumably equivalent to a board of museum trustees) concerning the revision of the molluscs. Attention is drawn to the facts that in September 1892 it was stated the work would terminate this year (i.e. 1893) and that the trustees had no knowledge of the desire to prolong the work for a further year with an additional expense of 2700 fr. The minister asks for a more detailed explanation and states that the next meeting of the trustees will take place probably at the museum, on the first Saturday of the next month; "il sera indispensable" if on that day one of the director’s staff could attend and “mettre sous nos yeux" that work which Craven has finished and that which he has not finished. It seems from this pretty abrupt letter that the minister was not happy about the situation.
It was Rulot who was given the job of attending the meeting and Director Sauveur, under cover of a note dated 30 October 1893, sent him a dossier on Craven containing six items and told him the Conseil de Surveillance was going to meet next Saturday morning at the Museum. The dossier contained Craven’s letter of 4 January 1892, Rulot’s report of 10 January 1892, MInister’s report of 9 May 1892, Craven’s letter of 13 September 1893, Minister’s report of 20 September 1893 and letter from Conseil de Surveillance of 19 October 1893. The dossier was returned by Rulot on 19th December. Between 22 April and 31 December 1893 he dealt with 1514 species in less than 200 days, a total of 79 genera – including 550 species of Helix, 101 of Cochlostyla,173 of Bulimulus, 127 of Clausilia and many other non—marine genera as well as marine bivalves. It is not clear what was involved in this revisional work but one assumes there was not much naming absolutely from scratch since he also dealt with an additional 40 trays of material. Anyone who has tried general naming will know that to name over ten a day from scratch would be difficult – some species can take over a day and involve much bibliographic work. Rather it would seem he was going through a collection already. named to some extent, correcting things he knew to be wrong and revising the nomenclature, itself a task involving detailed up to date knowledge. I think there is no doubt that Craven had an excellent all-round knowledge of the Mollusca, probably approaching that of Smith himself, such as relatively few collectors have today.
From now on it was nearly all trouble. The file contains a document written in very difficult legal French with a stamp "Joseph Matheys, Huissier, 76 Rue de Ruysbroeck, Bruxelles";. it is dated "L’an 1880 treize le treize Decembre” which simply means 13 Décember 1893. A huissier translates as a bailiff or sheriff’s officer or process server. The process was made at the request of a Madame Cornelie Engels a "hégociante épouse separée" of the estate of M. Francois Dezuther with whom she was presumably living at Montagne de la Cour 9 Bruxelles. Craven owed her 500 fr. to which was to be added costs of 28.71 fr. The huissier had visited M. Béclard to enforce the repayment of this debt by deduction from the amounts due to Craven from the state. At the bottom of the document is a statement signed by Craven relinquishing his rights to his money up to the amount owed. It also mentions it had been owed since the 1st November last for supplies and merchandise. On the 18 December there were two communications from the Minister to the Director. The first was an authorisation to go on paying Craven 225 fr. a month up to September 1894 and accepting the undertaking from Craven, that, if the work was not finished by that date, then it would be completed without any supplementary remuneration. This letter bears a pencilled note "M. Craven a quitté en Juin 1894 sans teriminer". The second, marked urgent, informs the director that the minister’s department had received a writ dated 13 December assigning from his salary in favour of Mad. Engels a sum of 500 fr. excluding the costs. Next day the Director sent Craven a letter informing him of the contents of both the above communications from the Minister. He adds his own thoughts on the subject, more or less as follows – I must tell you that an act of this sort, even in the temporary position which you requested to ac&ept amongst us, is likely to cast a slur on the Museum and its personnel. Craven replied to this on the 21 December saying that the assigument against his fees was made by him much against his wishes but he was acting under the menace of a court order; he added he was desolated to think he bad caused a slur on the Museum’s good name. There is a receipt for 28 fr. received by C.Engels from M. Béclard dated 22 December and another for 408.21 fr. dated 30 January 1894 which mentions a third sum of 120 fr. 13th December "Reçu mandat". The whole debt was therefore paid. At the bottom of this receipt is a note written in red "Approuvé les deux payements fait pour un compte par M. Béclard d’ensemble fr. 528.75 a reçu pour solde ?? fr. 71.45" signed A. E. Craven. I do not understand this and it’s not clear how the finances were arranged; Another note with the Museum stamp dated 29 January 1894 and signed by Craven confirmed that he was absent between 26th and 31st December and that his January fees should be reduced by 1/5 of 225 fr. i.e. 45 fr.
Little wonder he dropped out of even his most treasured societies – he would just not have been able to pay his dues. – Worse was to come when on 17 February 1894 a huissier again visited the Museum. A notice attached to a piece of paper is stamped, Ph. Matagne, Huissier, 59 rue du Conseil, Ixelles; L’Huissier a protesté un effet de fr. 1500 remis par Midas Petroff domicilié a Bruxelles Ixelles de 17 fevrier 1894. The attached piece paper of bears the abrupt statement in blue pencil ‘La 3e fois qu’un huissier se presente au Musée pour N. Craven’. Clearly he was in grave debt and owed six months wages. I do not know how he dealt with this catastrophe but on 18th May he wrote to the Director briefly asking for 10 days leave. Dujardin was again absent so his work would not be affected. He goes on to say that he is about to finish the revision of the bivalves and that only the Brachiopods, Pteropods and Nucleobranches (altogether 4 plateaux) remain before arriving at the Belgian collection.
Presumably the 1500 fr. had been found in some way or repayment delayed. About 15 June 1894 he abruptly left his work and no further documents are available until 14 August 1894 when the Director wrote to Béclard asking if there was any news and pointing out that the local Belgian collection remained to be put in order and that it would be truly regrettable if the work was not brought to a good finish.
On the 18th August the Director wrote to Craven himself asking him if he had any intention of continuing the work at the Museum but no more correspondence is recorded for that year. On 15 January 1895 Craven wrote to the Director wanting to start his work at the Museum again. The letter is quite a long one written from 70 Rue Albert, Ostende. He wishes very much to continue the work which was interrupted by disease and personal circumstances he had not expected. He asks the Director to accept his sincere apologies for the delay but promises to complete the work and that he would be desolated to think of it remaining unfinished through his fault. Now he is living in Ostend he would prefer to travel three days each week if convenient although he would be prepared to travel every day, but hopes it will not be necessary to make the long journey every day. He adds that he has been busying himself with the Belgian marine fauna and hopes to improve the Museum collection by personally dredged examples and believes the representation of Belgian molluscs at the museum will have lost nothing as a result of the delay he has been forced to make. He also informs the Director that he has experience of a conserving liquid for "Actinies et les Meduses" which has been very successful and much superior to alcohol. He expects to present his respects at the museum on the following Friday and start work on the Monday if permitted.
What happened is not known but I presume he did not recommence working. A month later the following notice appeared in the evening ‘Le National’ for 15 February 1895 "Disparition mystèrieuse. Depuis le 1er courant on signale la mystèrieuse disparition de M. Alfred Craven âgé de 46 ans, anatomiste, attaché au Musée d’histoire naturelles de Bruxelles. M. Craven habitait rue Albert à Ostende avec sa famille. On croit qu’il lui est arrivé un Malheur".
What happened to him I do not know, but the next letter to the Museum was written on 4th July 1895 from 11 Newberry Terrace, Weymouth. He apologises for having to cease his work at the Museum which was due to circumstances entirely independent of his wishes and "par un cas de force majeur". He will always regret the unfinished task and will never forget the goodwill shown him by the Director and staff. He then asks if the following things which he left at the museum could be sent to him 1) Fischer’s Manual and also that of Chenu together with "quelques brochures" 2) Manuscripts and notes in his handwriting 3) Collection of English Molluscs in glass boxes each of which carried his name on the label 4) empty glass boxes. He also asks "je voudrais bien que mon compte soit réglé c’est peu de chose mais même cette petite somme me serait fort utile". He goes on to suggest that the Museum should buy his collection of Nucleobranches and Heteropods which can be found on the plateau of this group at the Museum. Almost all the fragile species of Atlanta and Oxygyrus were represented by fresh material. He thought that 100 fr. would not be too dear; he then makes more excuses for his "départ involontaire".
Not receiving any reply he wrote again on the 31st July this time “Mon cher ami” presumably to M. Béclard. He points out the fact that it is over three weeks since he had written to the Director and it had not been acknowledged. He hoped he had written nothing which had offended the Director. That which astonished him most was the lack of response concerning his books and collection of which he had great need. Also the long delay in settling his account; the sum involved although very small would save him from an embarassment for he was "absolument à sec" – stony broke! He hopes Béclard would be able to help with these matters.
On a spare page of this letter is a note by van den Broeck, much of which I was unable to read. It is dated Jeudi soir. It begins "Mon cher Monsieur Béclard, Je reçois avec étonnement cette lettre de notre malheureuse ami Craven". He supposes all the vote for Craven’s work was long ago used up but in all humanity Béclard should tell the Director cf the affair and have him send Craven a word of reply. Some illegible financial jottings also appear. In a note to the Director Béclard points out that Craven had been paid up to May 1894 inclusive but during 15 days in June had revised 9 plateaux i.e. was due 135 fr. A short note from Craven dated 10th September states he had signed the enclosed declarations and it would give him great pleasure if Béclard could hasten the liquidation of his accounts.
There is no evidence in the file confirming any purchase of the collections Craven mentioned but the declarations mean that something was sent to him which required a receipt – perhaps merely his books and British collection. Two letters only remain in the file, exchanged between the Minister and the Director. One from the minister dated 30 September 1895 states following your letter of 12 September ...... you have been authorised to remunerate up to the month of September 1894 and it was understood that if the work was not completed by then Craven would finish it without any additional remuneration. There is then something about 2700 fr. not being entirely used up but before authorising the liquidation of the account he was to know Craven’s motifs for the delay in the completion of the work. The Director’s letter to the Minister is dated 2 October 1895 so poor Craven obviously had to wait some months for the 135 fr. (£5.40). He explains that in June 1894 when the revision was "en bonne voie d’achèvement" Craven had abruptly left the Museum without giving any explanation. It is only recently that he has made known to me that it was due to circumstances totally outside his control – un cas de force majeure and finding himself in a very difficult position has asked for the settlement of his remuneration amounting to 135 fr. He points out that the work was well done.
Presumably Craven got his 135 fr. but there is no proof of this. The files contain several other documents, all attempts to work out the money available for the work, the amount already paid to Craven, what should be subtracted for his various periods of leave and what was left. As might be expected Rulot’s original estimate of 1200–1500 fr. was far exceeded, as is usual in such matters. If the true estimates were given many such tasks would never be started. My original notes made in Brussels are deposited in the British Museum (Natural History) Mollusca library; they contain as far as possible transcriptions of all the material in the file.
My thanks are due to Sheryl Ann Jones of the Department of Zoology, National Museum of Wales, Cardiff for unearthing a letter from Craven to E.A. Smith in the Tomlin Correspondence. It is dated 12 May 1898 and its interest chiefly lies in that it shows Craven to have been working for ‘The Goldfields of Matabeleland, Ltd., 15 and 16 George Street, Mansion House, E.C.’ and that he was still interested in molluscs. Smith had sent Craven some "Zoo" tickets (presumably free ones given to Fellows of the Zoological Society) and obviously mentioned the acquisition by the Museum of a second species of Pleurotomaria. The short letter reads ‘Many thanks for the Zoo tickets. The first day I can get away during business hours I will give you a look up as I should much like to see the second species of Pleurotomaria! He was clearly on friendly but not too intimate terms with Smith since ths letter begins "Dear Mr. Smith" and finishes "Yours sincerely"; it seems possible. he ways still poorly off since one tends to give free tickets to those who can least afford to pay. The Pleurotomaria would have been Mikedotrochus beyrichii (Hilgendorf, 1877). A specimen in the British Museum. (Natural History) bears the registration number 22.214.171.124 and must be it; it is the one found alive by a Japanese fisherman at the Okinosi Bank off Boshu and obtained for the Museum by Mr. Charles Lund when visiting Japan.
By Bernard Verdcourt
When writing an account of Alfred Craven I entirely failed to find out any details of his birth. He moved about so much that any record in the Census Returns eluded me. I have, however, managed to track him down in the 1881 Census. He was boarding with an Eliza Duffort (?recorder’s writing is not clear) described as an annuitant aged 53 at 132 Cambridge Street, Warwick Square. He is described as a boarder, unmarried, naturalist and author, aged 32 and born in Belgium. I had previously wondered if he were born there and not managed to trace any record. Now it is sure he was born there perhaps renewed efforts can be made. In 1891 he was supposed to be living at 32 Warwick Square but the Census gives Melville L. Macnaghten, Chief Constable, Metropolitan Police and his family as living there! In 1871 one assumes he should have been at Kenwood Bank, Sharrow, Sheffield; the only similar name is Sharow but the Census for that place mentions no Craven nor a Kenwood Bank. I have not yet plucked up courage to go through the 24 lots of microfilm for the Sheffield area. Craven is of course a Yorkshire name so some of his relatives probably lived there.