Home Name

Joseph Simmonds Soul

Birth date

26 August 1833

Death date

March 1913


The son of Joseph Soul (b.1805-1881), secretary to the Orphan Working School, and an active member of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (BFASS).

Joseph Simmonds worked as a banking clerk and by 1871 was living in Hackney. Over their life they collected a large amount of 'African, Chinese and other curiosities' and natural history specimens. Some of these appear to have been collected on his travels. The catalogue for the collection includes items such as 'Ox-tail whisk from ?Damasaland used by Mr Soul for protection of his horse from the Tsetse flies.' Another item on the catalogue indicates he was a special constable; 'Staff of City of London Special Constables issued to Mr Soul on the occasion of the Trafalgar square riots, July 7 1888'

By the late 1880s there are records of him exhibiting his collection for groups such as the Hackney Band of Hope Union, and the Hackney Debating Society, alongside other collectors such as Joseph Exhall Greenhill.

By 1901 the family had moved to 3 Nightingale Road, Clapton. We was buried in Abney Park Cemetery.

His collection was bequeathed to Miss Soul (presumably his daughter Margarita Ellen Hone Soul), who offered to sell it to Libraries Committee. In October 1920, the recommendation of the Libraries Committee that the Soul Collection should be accepted by the Council on behalf of the inhabitants of Hackney was adopted, and was purchased from Miss Soul for £65. In 1924 it was reported that 'The greater portion of the collection is exhibited in glass cases, some of which have been purchased for the purpose. Many interesting specimens are hung on the walls in the Central Library.'

Part of the collection was later transferred to Hackney Archives, before being transferred to the recently created Hackney Museum in 1991.

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