Robert Coltman Clephan

Robert Coltman Clephan was born on the 8th of November 1839 at Grove House, Gateshead. He was the son of Joseph Clephan and Mary Coltman.

He was educated at Newcastle Grammar School. In his youth he was an active volunteer and became a captain in one of the Durham Rifle Corps. His business career began with Boldemann, Borries and Company where he worked as a cashier for five years. He started his own business, Clephan and Wiencke, iron and mineral merchants and commission agents. He also served as an agent for Armstrong, Whitworth and Co.

In 1869 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of John Foster Spence of North Shields. Elizabeth died in 1914 leaving Clephan with four sons and six daughters.

Clephan’s principal area of study was medieval armour and he built up a fine collection of his own, and was recognised as an authority on the subject. He wrote extensively on arms and armour. Some of his publications have included The defensive armour and the weapons and engines of war of medieval times and of the “Renaissance” (1900), Armour notes: with some account of the tournament (1915) and The tournament: its periods and phases(1919).

Clephan was also interested in firearms. Some of his publications on firearms have included The military handgun of the sixteenth century (1910), An outline of the history and development of hand firearms, from the earliest period to about the end of the fifteenth century (1906) and An outline of the history of gunpowder and that of the hand-gun, from the epoch of the earliest records to the end of the fifteenth century (1909).

Clephan travelled extensively in Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden and mastered all of the languages spoken in those countries.

In his later years his interests turned toward Egyptology and Egyptian antiquities. He was fascinated with the exploration of Egypt and travelled there many times. Clephan also prepared catalogues of Egyptian objects, ancient lamps and Greek Pottery for the Society of Antiquaries.

He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Robert Clephan died on the 21st of March 1922, at his home, Marine House in Tynemouth.