Horniman, Frederick John (DNB12)

HORNIMAN, FREDERICK JOHN (1835–1906), founder of the Horniman Museum, born at Bridgwater on 8 Oct. 1835, was second son of John Horniman of Bridgwater by his wife Ann, daughter of Thomas Smith of Witney, Oxfordshire. His parents belonged to the Society of Friends and he was educated at the Friends' School, Croydon (founded in 1702). After joining the large tea-packing business founded at Newport, I.W., by his father and moved to Wormwood St., London, 1852 (now W. H. and F. J. Horniman & Co., Limited), he travelled extensively in the east and west, during a period of forty years, collecting objects illustrative of the natural history, arts, and manufactures of the world. These he placed in his private residence, Surrey House, Forest Hill, and first opened the exhibition to the public on 24 Dec. 1890. About 1879 he removed to Surrey Mount adjoining, where he made additions in 1893. On 1 June 1895 the enlarged building, with surrounding grounds of five acres, was freely opened to the public. Horniman compiled a guide for visitors, and employed a curator and librarian as well as a naturalist. The collection and the visitors increased rapidly, and in 1897 Horniman erected at a cost of 40,000l. a new and handsome edifice near at hand from the designs of C. Harrison Townsend, F.R.I.B.A., having on the exterior wall a mosaic panel, thirty-two feet by ten feet, designed by R. Anning Bell to represent the course of human life, and a memorial tablet by F. W. Pomeroy, A.R.A.; a bronze fountain by J. W. Rollins was given by Horniman's son. Finally in 1901 Horniman presented his museum and surrounding estate to the London county council. The museum is now a lecture centre, and an annual report is issued. A new lecture hall and reading room, erected at the museum by his son, was opened on 28 Jan. 1912.

Horniman was liberal M.P. for the Falmouth and Penryn boroughs (1895–1904). He died in London on 5 March 1906. He married (1) on 3 June 1859 Rebekah, daughter of John Emslie of Dalston; (2) on 30 Jan. 1897 Minnie Louisa, daughter of G. W. Bennett of Charlton, Kent. His son by the first marriage, Emslie John Horniman, was liberal M.P. for Chelsea (1906–10), and his only daughter, Annie Elizabeth Frederica Horniman, is the founder of the Irish Theatre, Dublin, and of the Repertory Theatre, Manchester. His portrait by William Henry Margetson was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1897.

[The Times, 6 March 1906; Who's Who, 1906; An Account of the Horniman Free Museum and Recreation Grounds, Forest Hill (illustrated), 1901.]

C. F. S.