This collection is unusual in comprising largely material which reflects an abiding sporting interest, rather than economic activity of its creating family; namely staghunting in the Exmoor area, for which it is an invaluable source for the C19th. This pastime together with the profession of surgeon form a strong connecting link through several generations of the family.
Charles Palk Collyns, youngest son of William Collyns, surgeon of Kenton, co. Devon, was born in 1793 and followed his father's profession in Dulverton from 1814. He married Anne, dau. of Aaron Moore of Spreydon Ho., Broadclyst, co. Devon, in 1816, and had children John Barrett, William Bridge, Bayley Moore, George Nelson, Charles Moore, Fanny and Ann. The papers of John Barrett Collyns and his nephew Robert John (both surgeons) figure most prominently after those of Charles Palk himself. The latter's own diaries kept from 1816 until his death in 1864 (DD/COL 1/1a-52) the draft of his published work on hunting (DD/COL 7) and the hunting books of Revd. John Boyse (DD/COL 8 & 9) are rich sources for the sport, particularly for the Devon and Somerset Staghounds of which C.P.C. was a founder member in 1837. Those diaries, extensively studied by Gilbert C. Collyns in the 1940's and 1950's, whose voluminous extracts, copied into a variety of books, not least the minute book of Dulverton District Sanitary Authority, comprise over a third of the bulk of the archive, (DD/COL 39-46). The family's long connection with medicine, providing three generations of surgeons in Dulverton, is also reflected in the collection but less extensively. The connection by marriage of Mary Collyns and George Floyer Sydenham, fortuitously led to the accrual of the genealogical papers and letters of John Sydenham (1721-1806) which were collected by the said George F. and published in 1928 in The History of the Sydenham Family.