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William John Bankes
(1786 - 1855) U.K.

William John Bankes

Dorset MP and early Egyptologist


Bankes was an Egyptologist who never bothered to organize or publish the notes from his time in Egypt (1815 - 1819), it was not until the 2002 publication of Adventures in Egypt and Nubia: The Travels of William John Bankes, by Patricia Usick, that the general public could learn of the major significance of his discoveries, including essential clues that were to help towards the successful deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs. A major collector of Egyptiaca, the family estate still has the obelisk he brought from Egypt.

Antiquarian, art collector, and Member of Parliament; a friend of George Gordon, Lord Byron, who described him as "father of all mischiefs"; in 1812 he went to Spain and Portugal to pursue a Bohemian lifestyle among the gypsies; arrested in 1833 for having sexual relations with a private in the Royal Guards, acquitted later that same year in a well-publicized trial (the scandal ended his parliamentary career); in 1841 he was caught by a policeman having sex with a guardsman on a park bench. He then fled England for Venice, where he spent the rest of his life.


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