Corney, Bolton (DNB00)

CORNEY, BOLTON (1784–1870), critic and antiquary, was born at Greenwich on 28 April 1784, and baptised in the parish church of St. Alphage. His son, writing in 1881, says: ‘Owing to his exceeding deafness and consequent reticent habits, I know very little of his early history, and I have never known any relations on his side, as he married so late in life’ (Notes and Queries, 6th ser. iv. 291). It has been stated that he served for some time in the revenue service, but this is doubtful. He obtained in 1803 a commission as ensign in the 28th regiment of foot, and in 1804 a medal for good marksmanship inscribed ‘Royal Greenwich Volunteers.’ The middle portion of his life was spent at Greenwich, where he held the post of first clerk in the steward's department at the Royal Hospital (Navy List, 1840, p. 138). From this he did not retire till 1845 or 1846, when he married a daughter of Captain (afterwards Admiral) Richard Pridham of Plymouth. He then removed to Barnes in Surrey, where he continued to reside till his death on 30 Aug. 1870 (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vi. 206). He left an only son, Bolton Glanvil Corney, born in 1851, who became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, and was appointed government medical officer at Fiji.

In early life he formed an attachment to literature, and after his removal to Barnes he plunged more deeply than ever into his bibliophilic researches, and lived and died literally in the midst of his books. The walls, not only of his study, but of his bedroom, were lined from floor to ceiling with laden bookshelves, and the carpets were hidden by masses of books piled four and five high on the floor (Athenæum, 17 June 1871, p. 754). He was a member of the council of the Shakspere Society and the Camden Society, and one of the auditors of the Royal Literary Fund. In all matters relating to the book department of the British Museum he took a lively interest. He engaged in several warm controversies with Mr. (afterwards Sir Anthony) Panizzi, and in 1856 he sent a protest to Lord Palmerston against that gentleman's appointment as principal librarian (Fagan, Life of Panizzi, ii. 12, 13; British Museum Reports and Minutes of Evidence, 1850, pp. 400–3; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. iv. 375).

His works are: 1. ‘Researches and Conjectures on the Bayeux Tapestry’ [Greenwich, 1836], 12mo, Lond. 1838, 8vo. He contended that the tapestry was not executed till 1205, and his view was adopted by Dr. Lingard (J. C. Bruce, Bayeux Tapestry elucidated, pp. 11, 163). Edouard Lambert published a reply to Corney under the title of ‘Réfutation des objections faites contre l'antiquité de la Tapisserie de Bayeux,’ Bayeux, 1841, 8vo. 2. ‘Curiosities of Literature by I. D'Israeli illustrated,’ Greenwich [1837], 12mo. To this caustic criticism D'Israeli replied in ‘The Illustrator illustrated’ [1838], whereupon Corney brought out a second edition of his work, ‘revised and acuminated, to which are added, Ideas on Controversy, deduced from the practice of a Veteran; and adapted to the meanest capacity,’ Lond. 1838, 12mo. One hundred copies of the ‘Ideas on Controversy’ were separately printed. 3. ‘On the new General Biographical Dictionary: a Specimen of Amateur Criticism, in letters to Mr. Sylvanus Urban,’ Lond. 1839, 8vo, privately printed. In these letters, which originally appeared in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ he severely criticised the earlier portions of the well-known biographical compilation published under the name of the Rev. Hugh James Rose. 4. ‘Comments on the Evidence of Antonio Panizzi, Esq., before the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the British Museum, A.D. 1860;’ privately printed. 5. ‘The Sonnets of William Shakspere: a Critical Disquisition suggested by a recent discovery’ (by V. E. Philarète Chasles, relating to the inscription which precedes the sonnets in the edition of 1609) [Lond. 1862], 8vo; privately printed. 6. ‘An Argument on the assumed Birthday of Shakspere: reduced to shape, 1864;’ privately printed.

He edited, from a manuscript in his own possession, ‘An Essay on Landscape Gardening,’ by Sir John Dalrymple, one of the barons of the exchequer in Scotland, Greenwich, 1823, 12mo (Men of the Time, 7th edit.); ‘The Seasons,’ by James Thomson, with illustrations designed by the Etching Club, 1842; Goldsmith's ‘Poetical Works, illustrated, with a Memoir,’ in 1846; ‘The Voyage of Sir Henry Middleton to Bantam and the Maluco Islands in 1604’ (for the Hakluyt Society), 1855; ‘Of the Conduct of the Understanding, by John Locke,’ in 1859. He was a frequent contributor to ‘Notes and Queries’ and the ‘Athenæum;’ and he made special collections concerning Caxton, which he placed at the disposal of Mr. Blades (Blades, Life and Typography of William Caxton, vol. i. pref. p. xi and pp. 282–5, ii. 259).

[Authorities cited above; also Add. MS. 20774, ff. 40, 45; Cat. of Printed Books in Brit. Mus.]

T. C.