Thomas Pownall

(1722—1805) colonial governor and politician

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

(1722–1805) [Bi]

British politician and amateur antiquarian interested in the representation of the past. Born in Lincolnshire and educated in classics and philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge, he obtained a post at the Board of Trade in 1743. In 1753 he was appointed personal assistant to the Governor of New York, and in 1755 he was made Lieutenant‐Governor of New Jersey. Upon returning to England in 1760 he became MP for Tregony in Cornwall. During the 1770s and 1780s he published a series of articles in Archaeologia and two books: A treatise on the study of antiquities (1782) and An antiquarian romance (1795). In these he explored the idea that the past can be reconstructed through the universal laws of human nature. Other themes that emerge from his writings are a concern for accuracy in recording antiquities, domestication, and the importance of separating fact from opinion. In this Pownall was one of the first to apply the ideas of the European Enlightenment to the field of archaeology.


B. Orme, 1974, Governor Pownall. Antiquity, 48, 116–24

Subjects: Archaeology.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.