Frederick Philip Pinkett (1872 – 1922)
(Collection loaned, then bequeathed by Ethel Pinkett in 1928)
The Pinkett collection was acquired by both father and son, Francis Frederick Pinkett and Frederick Philip Pinkett respectively.
Francis Frederick Pinkett
F.F. Pinkett was born 1837 and worked for a time in Sierra Leone. He was on the Executive and Legal Board of Sierra Leone and acted as Governor, 1881-1885. When he died in 1887 he held the title of Chief of the West Africa Settlements. It is not known how many of the objects originally belonged to him and were inherited by his son.
Frederick Philip Pinkett
F.P. Pinkett was born in Exeter in 1872, the third of 4 children. He was a keen sportsman and played for several local teams. He trained as a solicitor and worked in Exeter as a solicitor’s clerk. In 1895 he made his first trip to Lagos, Nigeria, followed by another in 1896. The whole family relocated to Dawlish around the turn of the century, a fashionable resort for the wealthy.
Pinkett became the District Commissioner of Lagos around the same time, first mentioned in the 1901 census. In 1901 he also married Ethel Moon, the daughter of a wealthy farming family from Lincolnshire. He remained in England for a while with Ethel before returning to his post in Lagos in 1906.
In 1910 he spent some time in Calabar, Nigeria. According to his wife, Pinkett was heavily involved in working to end the local custom of twin infanticide. Unlike in other parts of Nigeria where twins were regarded as fortunate and powerful, in Calabar they were left to die because one was believed to be an evil mirror of the other. A Scottish missionary, Mary Slessor, is credited with ending the practice, and Pinkett most likely worked with her towards this end.
Pinkett left Nigeria for the final time in 1911, returning to Dawlish. He became a solicitor and was heavily involved with the local community, both socially and politically. In 1914 he was sworn in as a special constable and he represented the Fire Brigade on the Dawlish Urban District Council. In 1915, he became a bombadier for the Devon Royal Garrison Artillery providing coastal defence.
Pinkett was discharged from the Artillery in 1916 due to ill health, and he died in 1922 aged 51. It is possible that this ill health was recurring and due to malaria contracted earlier in his life. His wife, Ethel Pinkett loaned his collection to Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). Letters between Ethel Pinkett and F.R.R. Rowley, the then curator, are held as part of the collection record. Ethel died in 1947, leaving the collection to RAMM in her will.
One of the objects, a gourd container (above) and lid, has the inscription F.P. Pinkett. This is likely to have been presented to Pinkett on leaving his post in Nigeria. The gourd holds cosmological significance in Yoruban culture and is a marker of social status as well as being a practical container. This personalised gift implies that his relationship to the local community was positive. The accession number for this collection is 88/1928, there are 9o ethnographic items listed for Pinkett.