The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Captain Edward Festing

Captain Edward Festing

A carte-de-visite portrait of Captain Edward Robert Festing (1839-1912), later the Director of the Science Museum in Kensington.

A younger son of Richard Grindall Festing and his wife, Eliza, daughter of Edward Mammatt of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, Edward Robert Festing was born at Frome in Somerset in 1839. He gained the rank of Major-General in the service of the Royal Engineers. In 1886 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. From 1893 to 1904 he was director of the Science Museum in South Kensington. His family, which had strong naval traditions, was descended from the musician Michael Christian Festing, of German origin. A brother, John Wogan Festing, was bishop of St Albans.

On 26 April 1871 at Holdenhurst in Hampshire, Edward Robert Festing married Frances Mary Legrew, daughter of the Rev. Arthur Legrew, of Caterham. The couple appear on the 1881 census, living at the South Kensington Museum residences. Festing gave as his profession ‘Lieut. Col. Royal Engineers / Assistant Director South Kensington Museum, Science and Art department.’ Also present on the night of the census were daughter Gabrielle (9), son Richard (5), an unmarried cousin by the name of Louisa Parkinson, and three servants.

He died on 16 May 1912. According to his obituary in the Times (20 May 1912): ‘The death took place on Thursday last at 56, Queen’s-gate-terrace, S.W., of Major-General Edward Robert Festing, C.B., F.R.S., late R.E., formerly Director of the Science Museum, South Kensington. Born in 1839, he was the son of the late Mr. Richard Grindall Festing. He was educated at the Ordnance School, Carshalton, and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and in 1855 became a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. He served through the Central Indian campaigns, 1857-59, under Sir H. Rose and Sir Robert Napier, and received the medal for the Mutiny. In 1864 he joined the Department of Science and Art as Deputy-General Superintendant, South Kensington, and from 1893 to 1904 occupied the position of Director of the Science Museum. He was created a C.B. in 1900.’

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London on 17 December 1861.

Code: 126143
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