Untold lives blog

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07 September 2021

Personal Reflections on the Indian Political Service – Part Three: Travels between Britain and India

This is the third and final part in a series of blog posts about Mss Eur F226, a collection of 35 memoirs by former members of the Indian Political Service (IPS).  Here we step back again to look more generally at the collection and consider the subject of travel.  This is a dominant theme throughout all the memoirs.

Head and shoulders photographic portrait of Sir Tom Hickinbotham Sir Tom Hickinbotham. Photograph by Elliott & Fry, 7 December 1960. © National Portrait Gallery, London NPG x82837 National Portrait Gallery Creative Commons Licence

Many IPS officers changed posts frequently during their careers, and these memoirs document a considerable amount of travelling by land, air and sea, not only from Britain to India (and back again) but also within the wider region.  Tom Hickinbotham shares his memories of a journey undertaken from Quetta to Europe via north Persia [Iran] in 1927, travelling in a Fiat Tourer, on what he claims to be the first trip taken by car from India to the Mediterranean.  Thomas Rogers recalls being appointed to the IPS in 1937 and deciding to travel from London to Bombay [Mumbai] by car, passing through Turkey, Syria, and Iran along the way, with three other recruits whom he had persuaded to join him.

There are many insights into the thrills and dangers of early commercial flights.  John Cotton recalls how passengers travelling on small planes were weighed at intermediate stops, along with their luggage.  Patrick Tandy remarks on how leisurely air travel seemed at the time, before recounting the trauma of descending in an unpressurised aircraft from a cruising height of several thousand feet to 1,600 feet below sea level, while flying over the Dead Sea.

Least fondly remembered are journeys by sea.  Cotton remembers the rather cramped conditions on board Royal Navy sloops, where he passed the time playing ‘interminable games of Monopoly’.  Michael Hadow describes the ‘appalling’ conditions on a voyage back to Britain in summer 1946, aboard a ship built for the cooler climes of the North Atlantic Ocean.  Hugh Rance shares a similar experience, albeit in the opposite direction, on a cockroach-infested ship that ‘may have been fine for the Atlantic run but was hellish in the Red Sea’.  Tandy writes of one of his voyages home: ‘we were four to a cabin, and the man in the bunk below me had about thirty years army service and appeared not to have changed his socks since the day he was recruited’.

Extract from Herbert Todd’s memoirExtract from Herbert Todd’s memoir, 1978. Mss Eur F226/30, f. 80. The copyright status is unknown. Please contact copyright@bl.uk with any information you have regarding this item

Herbert Todd gives a detailed account of a perilous journey undertaken with his wife and family in September 1940, after a period of extended home leave.  Their initial attempt at a passage to India ended when their ship, SS Simla, was torpedoed in the Irish Sea.  Todd and his family were taken aboard the Guinean, a ‘lightly laden cargo boat’, which he later learned had disobeyed orders in leaving the convoy and coming to their rescue.

Simla steamshipSS Simla - image © Bibliothek für Zeitgeschichte / Württembergische Landesbibliothek

There are numerous other travel anecdotes to be found in the memoirs, and many other stories besides.

David Fitzpatrick
Content Specialist, Archivist, British Library Qatar Foundation Partnership

 

02 September 2021

East India Company appointments by the Prince Regent – (2) Peniston Lamb

On 30 May 1815 the East India Company Court of Directors considered a request from the Prince Regent that Peniston George Lamb be appointed to a writership in Bengal.  It was resolved that His Royal Highness should be given the nomination of a student for East India College, Haileybury,  with a view to appointment as a writer on the Bengal establishment.

Peniston Lamb writer's petition 1817 - letter from Viscount MelbourneLetter from Viscount Melbourne in the writer’s petition papers for Peniston Lamb IOR/J/1/32 f. 272 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Peniston Lamb submitted his application papers to the Company in July 1815.  These include documents of support from Viscount Melbourne at Whitehall who states that Peniston Lamb is his grandson and ward.  A certificate from St George Hanover Square records that Peniston was born on 30 April 1801 and baptised on 8 August, the son of Peniston and Margaretta Lamb.  His father had died.  Peniston junior was educated at a school based in Hertford Castle, not far from the family seat at Brocket Hall.  

However the story of Peniston Lamb is more complicated than might at first seem.

The identity of his mother Margaretta is a mystery.  His father Peniston is not known to have married, although he had a long-term affair with Mrs Sophia Musters whose name was also linked in society gossip to Prince George.  Sick with consumption and anticipating his end, Peniston Lamb wrote requests to his father Viscount Melbourne and brother William which were discovered in his desk after his death in January 1805.  The first dated June 1803 included this wish: ‘I now recommend to my dear Father’s care and protection the little Boy which is at Mrs Cottys but only wish him to be brought up as a Millner’s Son ought to be’.  In October 1804, Peniston instructed William that any residue from his estate should go to this child.  It appears from the writer’s petition that Viscount Melbourne acknowledged the boy as his grandson and gave him an education suitable for a career in the East India Company.

Portrait of Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne, seated, holding her baby son Peniston Lamb, whose feet are resting on  a cradle next to them Elizabeth Lamb (née Milbanke), Viscountess Melbourne, with Peniston Lamb as a child by Samuel William Reynolds or Samuel William Reynolds Jr, (1770-1771) NPG D38358 © National Portrait Gallery, London

The Lambs had close ties to the Prince Regent and there are many instances of his patronage being granted to the family.  Viscount Melbourne and his wife Elizabeth both had extra-marital relationships.  Elizabeth had six children who survived infancy but the only one believed to have been fathered without doubt by her husband was her eldest son Peniston born in 1770.  She began a well-known affair with the Prince in 1783 and he was said to be the father of her fourth son George.

Peniston Lamb spent four terms at East India College and was a very proficient student.  He won prizes for classics, French, and law. When he left in 1819, he was placed in the first class category and ranked third amongst the students destined for a career in Bengal.  The sureties guaranteeing his good behaviour in India were Hon George Lamb of Whitehall Yard, barrister (his uncle and the possible son of the Prince Regent,) and Charles Cookney of Holborn, solicitor.  George Lamb also gave security that the appointment had not been purchased.

Having arrived in India in July 1820, Peniston Lamb worked for the Board of Revenue and then the Secret and Political Department.  Sadly his career was very short as he died in Singapore on 20 July 1824.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
IOR/J/1/32 ff. 269-276 Writer’s petition for Peniston Lamb. (I have found no mention of George being his middle name except in the Prince Regent’s request to the East India Company.)
IOR/J/1/97 East India College examination results.
IOR/B/161 p.172 Minutes of the East India Company Court of Directors 30 May 1815.
IOR/B/170 p. 1158 Minutes of the East India Company Court of Directors 18 February 1820.
The National Archives PROB 11/1421/107 Probate of will of The Honorable Peniston Lamb of Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire 13 February 1805.
Biographical notes on Peniston Lamb (1770 -1805) History of Parliament Online 
L. G. Mitchell, Lord Melbourne 1779-1848 (Oxford, 1997)
Philip Ziegler, Melbourne - A biography of William Lamb 2nd Viscount Melbourne (London, 1976)

 

31 August 2021

East India Company appointments by the Prince Regent – (1) Henry Meredith Parker

In December 1812 the Chairman of the East India Company received a letter from Colonel McMahon, Private Secretary to the Prince Regent.  The Prince had asked McMahon to express how much he would be obliged if the Court of Directors granted him a writership for Bengal for a young gentleman aged seventeen whom the Prince was desirous of serving.  The Company directors resolved unanimously that His Royal Highness should be presented with the nomination of a student for East India College with a view to appointment as a writer on the Bengal establishment.

Prince Regent's request for a Bengal writership December 1812Request of the Prince Regent for a Bengal writership December 1812 IOR/B/156 p. 996 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Nominations for East India College were normally shared amongst the Company directors, but sometimes others were granted the privilege of putting a name forward, for example politician Lord Sidmouth.

The young man being favoured by the Prince Regent was Henry Meredith Parker.  In July 1813 Henry was appointed Deputy-Assistant Commissary to the Forces but he then reverted to seeking a career in the East India Company.  In December 1813 the Court of Directors resolved that he should be appointed as a writer in Bengal without having to attend East India College if found suitable.  Henry was examined by Samuel Henley, Principal of East India College, and rated ‘preeminently qualified’.  The sureties who put up money to guarantee Henry’s good behaviour were his father and Colonel McMahon.

Writer's petition for Henry Meredith ParkerWriter’s petition for Henry Meredith Parker January 1814 IOR/J/1/29 f.19v Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Henry’s application papers state that he was born on 4 June 1795 in St George’s Surrey.  He had to provide details of his parents’ situation, profession and residence: ‘My Parents Mr and Mrs William Parker, reside in Bridge Street in the Parish of Lambeth on their Private Income’.  Henry did not reveal that his parents were both well-known entertainers.  His father William Parker was an equestrian specialist and for some years proprietor of a circus in Edinburgh.  His mother was Sophia Granier, a singer, dancer and actress from a large family of stage players. Henry played the violin in the orchestra at the theatre in Covent Garden.

Why did the Prince Regent wish to help Henry with his career?  It seems that the Prince had seen the Parker family perform.  William Parker had an older daughter Nannette by his first wife, and she was a celebrated actress who married the popular Scottish actor Henry Erskine Johnston.  Apparently the Prince took a fancy to Nannette and forced his way into her dressing room.  Her furious husband sought out the Prince and gave him a thrashing.  Johnston was arrested but managed to escape, hiding in London before fleeing north.

Henry Meredith ParkerSketch of Henry Meredith Parker from Colesworthey Grant, Lithographic sketches of the public characters of Calcutta (Calcutta, 1850) 

Whatever the reasons behind his appointment, Henry flourished in India.  Away from his duties at the Board of Customs, Salt and Opium, he had a busy social life - acting, making music, and writing poetry, plays and prose. His friend, the journalist J. H .Stocqueler, described him as ‘a man of rare talents and brilliant attainments’.  Henry’s younger sisters Sophia Zenana and Josephine joined him in India and married Bengal civil servants.

Obituary for Henry Meredith Parker
British Newspaper Archive – obituary for Henry Meredith Parker in Homeward Mail from India, China and the East 19 September 1863

Henry Meredith Parker died in Richmond, Surrey, on 17 September 1863.  His obituary in the Homeward Mail said that Henry was accomplished, kind and genial, the life and soul of British society in Calcutta.

I have found another writer’s nomination by the Prince Regent in 1815 and I’ll tell you about that in our next post.

Margaret Makepeace
Lead Curator, East India Company Records

Further reading:
IOR/B/156 pp. 996, 1000 - Minutes of the East India Company Court of Directors 9 and 11 December 1812.
IOR/B/158 pp.960, 1210 - Minutes of the East India Company Court of Directors 23 December 1813 and 4 March 1814.
J. H .Stocqueler, Memoirs of a journalist (Bombay, 1873).
Philip H. Highfill, A biographical dictionary of actors, actresses, musicians, dancers, managers & other stage personnel in London, 1660-1800 (Southern Illinois University Press, 1973-93).
Donald Campbell, Playing for Scotland – A history of the Scottish stage 1715-1965 (Edinburgh, 1996).
Máire ní Fhlathúin (ed.), The poetry of British India, 1780-1905, Volume 1 1780-1833 (London, 2011), pp.237-269 Henry Meredith Parker.
British Newspaper Archive – obituary for Henry Meredith Parker in Homeward Mail from India, China and the East 19 September 1863 (also available via Findmypast).

 

27 August 2021

Follow up: Important information for email subscribers

We want to acknowledge the response to our blogpost on 13 August, in which we announced that the email notifications for the blog will be ending shortly, owing to changes made by the third-party platform.  Many thanks to those who got in touch to let us know their views about this change.  We really value hearing from you.  It is heartening to know how many people appreciate getting our blog notifications in their inbox and we understand that other ways of finding out about blogposts aren't always as convenient or relevant for you.

Demonstration of a string telephone with a man talking into a receptacle and a woman at the other end of the string with a receptacle held against her earDemonstration of a string telephone from Théodore Achille Louis Moncel, The Telephone, the Microphone and the Phonograph (London, 1879) British Library 8758.b.31 p.32 Images Online Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

We also want to assure you that we are actively looking into this issue and working to implement a solution which will continue your email notifications,  However we do not know whether you will continue to receive notifications about new posts before we are able to implement this, but we promise to update the blog with further information as soon as we have it.  Thank you for your patience and understanding while we resolve this.

Margaret Makepeace
Editor, Untold Lives

Follow us on Twitter @UntoldLives

 

26 August 2021

Hilda Elizabeth Henry - 'a skilled craftswoman of exquisite taste'

The British Library celebrates the work of famous or professional historical figures but also gives an insight into the lives of lesser known people, one of whom was art teacher, Hilda Elizabeth Henry (1885-1936).

Sheffield School of Art in 1857 - view of exterior of buildingSheffield School of Art - these purpose-built premises in Arundel Street opened in 1857 - Illustrated Times 22 November 1856 British Newspaper Archive via Findmypast.  The School was renamed Sheffield Technical School of Art in 1903.

At a time when women’s lives revolved around the home, Hilda was something of a pioneer.  She was born in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and when the family moved to Sheffield continued her education there at the High School, at University College and at the art school.  The Sheffield Technical School of Art accepted women students and furthermore recognised Hilda’s talent by awarding her a prestigious 'Montgomery medal'.

Both sides of a Montgomery Medal, one with the head of James Montgomery in profile

Sheffield School of Art , Montgomery medal, 1852

Despite periodic bouts of ill health, Miss Henry made a successful career in education. From 1910-25 she taught art at the Cheltenham Ladies' College where she bound a copy of Rolland’s Vie de Michel-Ange in 1915.

Spine and upper cover of Rolland’s Vie de Michel-Ange by Hilda E. Henry

Decorative detail from the cover of Rolland’s Vie de Michel-AngeSpine and upper cover of Rolland’s Vie de Michel-Ange by Hilda E. Henry

She has been described as 'clearly an amateur', but she took her work seriously and signed herself  'Hilda E. Henry. Binder'.  The fact that she chose to present it to the college is an indication of her satisfaction with her work.

Book label - 'Presented by Miss H. Henry'Interestingly, the College had another connection with bookbinding via one of their governors, the celebrated practitioner Sarah Prideaux, member of the College Council from 1907-1922.  Did Miss Prideaux ever see Miss Henry’s binding, which was kept in locked case (M19) and if so, what was her opinion?

From 1925, Miss Henry was much in demand in Tamworth as mistress of the Tamworth Art School, art mistress of the Grammar School and the Girls' High School, and supervisor of the art teaching in the elementary schools of the borough.  The council paid her £60 a year for the latter post.

Miss Henry’s interests were wide ranging.  She exhibited tooled and embossed leather work at the Autumn Exhibition of the Royal Society of Artists in 1929.  Her pupils were also encouraged to find new ways of artistic expression including leather work, lino cutting and embroidery as well as the customary design, painting and drawing.  Perhaps the most telling tribute to her abilities as an art teacher was a compliment paid by Mr F. Burkitt, the headmaster of the Grammar School: 'She had already made the boys look forward with pleasure to each art lesson, and what was more valuable, to do work of their own accord out of school'.


PJM Marks
Curator, Bookbindings, Printed Heritage Collections

The copy of  Rolland’s Vie de Michel-Ange bound by Hilda E. Henry was acquired recently by the British Library and is awaiting cataloguing.

 

24 August 2021

'A Curious Herbal' inspiring current day creatives

Let us introduce you to a remarkable woman called Elizabeth Blackwell and her book, A Curious Herbal.  The British Library is lucky enough to have three copies of this important book.  Elizabeth Blackwell, born in the early 1700s, was the first British woman to produce a herbal.  She drew, engraved and coloured the 500 illustrations single-handedly.  The unusual story behind the herbal’s creation makes it even more interesting.

Garden Cucumber by Elizabeth BlackwellGarden Cucumber, Plate 4, Elizabeth Blackwell, A Curious Herbal, 1737-1739. British Library 34.i.12-13. Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Elizabeth’s husband Alexander was a shady character.  He practiced as a doctor in Aberdeen but had no formal medical training or qualifications.   When he was challenged the couple fled to London.  Alexander then tried to establish himself as a printer.  However, the authorities discovered that he hadn’t completed the mandatory apprenticeship.  His breach of regulations incurred a heavy fine which he couldn’t pay.  So he was sent to debtor’s prison.  Elizabeth decided to publish a herbal to support herself and her child, and raise enough money to secure her husband’s release from prison.

Love Apple by Elizabeth BlackwellLove Apple, Plate 133, Elizabeth Blackwell, A Curious Herbal, 1737-1739. British Library 34.i.12-13. Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Elizabeth published A Curious Herbal in parts between 1737 and 1739.  Several leading botanists endorsed her.  She also approached Sir Hans Sloane who granted her access to the foreign plant specimens in his collection (see the blog post Introducing Elizabeth Blackwell to Hans Sloane).  There were 500 engraved illustrations in total, all hand-coloured by Elizabeth herself.  Normally this would require three separate professionals.  She drew specimens not only from England but also many from North and South America.  These specimens were brought to England by colonists and botanists who often had links to slave labour plantations.

'Female Piony' by Elizabeth Blackwell'Female Piony', Plate 65, Elizabeth Blackwell, A Curious Herbal, 1737-1739. British Library 34.i.12-13. Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Elizabeth’s plan worked. Her profits secured Alexander’s release from prison. But, despite his wife’s heroic efforts, he was not a reformed man. His debts built up once more and he became entangled in a political conspiracy in Sweden. He was beheaded for treason in 1748. Elizabeth Blackwell faded from the historical record after this – we don’t know much about the rest of her life. But she will always be remembered for being a pioneer in botanical illustration and for her heroic efforts to help her (useless!) husband.

Guinea Pepper by Elizabeth BlackwellGuinea Pepper, Plate 129, Elizabeth Blackwell, A Curious Herbal, 1737-1739. British Library 34.i.12-13. Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

This summer A Curious Herbal is being used to inspire current budding botanical illustrators taking part in the Entangled Sketchbook Challenge organised by Lancaster University.  The Challenge invites people to examine the natural world around them using a series of prompts to make daily notes, doodles and drawings to record details of what they find, including the date, time and weather.  The hashtag for sharing these drawings on social media is #EntangledSketchbooks.

Challenge participants can also ask for their favourite sketchbook pages to be considered for an online exhibition that will be part of the Entangled Festival, a week-long celebration of arts, environment and technologies, which is taking place online and outdoors in Morecambe Bay from 18- 26 September 2021.  To submit drawings for this, please email good quality photographs or scans to entangledfestival@gmail.com using ‘Exhibition submission’ in the email subject line.

Good luck to everyone taking part in the challenge.  We hope Elizabeth Blackwell’s wonderful illustrations provide delight and encouragement for you to draw some nearby plants, flowers and trees.

Maddy Smith, Curator Printed Heritage Collections, and Stella Wisdom (@miss_wisdom), Digital Curator 

 



19 August 2021

Soldiers’ References in the East India Company Military Department

A recent acquisition to the India Office Private Papers gives a glimpse into the daily work of administrators in the Military Department of the East India Company.  The acquisition is a small bundle of enquiries known as Soldiers’ References.  These enquiries, received from soldiers or their relatives, covered a wide range of subjects and would have been a substantial part of the Department’s daily business.

The India Office Records contains a much larger collection of these enquiries as part of the records of the Military Department, dating from 1860 to 1873.  The subjects of the enquiries include the whereabouts of soldiers; applications for medals, prize money, allowances, discharge papers, free passage for a family, and pensions; claims to a deceased soldier's estate; and miscellaneous statements and certificates in support of claims.  All enquiries prior to 1860 were sent for destruction in the mid-19th century, with only those thought to still be required for ongoing business surviving.  As sometimes happens in such cases, small survivals occasionally turn up, which is the case with this new acquisition. Here are a few examples of the enquiries it contains.

Letter from Dr Green applying for the position of Superintendent of the Calcutta Eye InfirmaryLetter from Dr Green applying for the position of Superintendent of the Calcutta Eye Infirmary Mss Eur F749 f.4 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

W Green, Civil Assistant Surgeon, Bengal, applied to the East India Company for the position of Superintendent of the Calcutta Eye Infirmary in a letter dated 7 January 1847.  Dr Green had heard that the position was about to become vacant due to the retirement of the then incumbent.  He noted that before leaving England for India in 1830 he had attended the practice of the Eye Infirmary at Moorfields, London.

Enquiry from Henry Dean about the effects of William DeanEnquiry from Henry Dean Mss Eur F749 f. 11 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

Enquirers writing to the Department often received a reply asking them to fill in an application form.  This was the case with Henry Dean of Liverpool who enquired about the effects of the late William Dean, a Private in the Bombay Fusiliers who died in India on 10 September 1850.  Henry returned the reply with a handwritten note at the bottom stating that he would forward the form to his father Mr John Dean who would answer the questions on it.

Letter from John Foster enquiring about his Punjab medalLetter from John Foster Mss Eur F749 f. 16 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence

 On 2 August 1852, Corporal John Foster of the 2nd European Bengal Fusilier Regiment, wrote expressing his surprise that his medal had not been sent to him.  He had received his money from the Staff Officer of Pensioners at Waterford, and had expected his medal for service in the Punjab to be sent to him at the same time.

Application from John Munro enquiring about the estate of his late brother WilliamLetter from John Munro  Mss Eur F749 f. 21 Public Domain Creative Commons Licence


An example of the standard application form which enquirers were asked to complete is that of John Munro, who in November 1852 enquired after the estate of his late brother William, a recruit in the Bombay Establishment.  The Munro family were from Auchterarder in Perthshire, Scotland.  Both parents were dead, and there were two surviving brothers: John still living in Perthshire, and James who was living in New York.  There was also a sister Janet, another sister Mary having died in March 1852.  Mary’s son William Inglis is recorded as living with his father, also in New York.  The form also lists a grandparent, and aunts and uncles still living in Auchterarder.  As was required by the East India Company, the form was signed by the Minister of the Parish, Robert Young.  The need for a parish minister or churchwarden to sign application forms was to discourage speculative applications from persons with no degree of relationship with the deceased from attempting to make fraudulent claims.

John O’Brien
India Office Records

Further Reading:
Soldiers' References: letters of enquiry addressed to the East India Company Military Department in London, May 1839-Feb 1853, BL shelfmark: Mss Eur F749. A full list of the contents can be found on the Explore Archives and Manuscripts catalogue. 
Soldiers' References for the years 1860 to 1873 are in the India Office Records at IOR/L/MIL/5/362-375. Registers of correspondence for the years 1829 to 1873 are at IOR/Z/L/MIL/5/16-43.
Anthony Farrington, Guide to the records of the India Office Military Department (London 1982).

 

17 August 2021

Old Crop-Ear – JMW Turner’s horse

A few years ago, the owners of a house built on land in Twickenham, previously owned by JMW Turner, dug up some bones in their garden.  The police were called but the bones turned out to be of animal rather than human origin.  Could this be the final resting place of Turner’s horse?

In 1813, when Turner and his father William (‘Old Dad’) moved into Sandycombe Lodge, the house that Turner had designed and built in Twickenham, they brought with them their horse, Crop-Ear.  Turner bought a nearby small plot of land as grazing, and probably stabling, for the horse.  In Walter Thornbury’s early biography, Turner’s great friend Henry Scott Trimmer describes ‘an old crop-eared bay horse, or rather a cross between a horse and a pony’.  Turner and his father were often seen in the area riding in a gig pulled by Crop-Ear.  When Trimmer accompanied Turner on sketching expeditions, sometimes going as far as Runnymede, he says that they went ‘at a very steady pace, for Turner painted much faster than he drove’.

JMW Turner, Frosty Morning - figures of man and child standing near two horsesJMW Turner, Frosty Morning, 1813, Tate 00492 , digital image © Tate released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

Turner used Crop-Ear as a model and he appears most memorably in Turner’s celebrated painting Frosty Morning.  In fact, both horses in the picture are probably modelled on him.  Some of Turner’s detractors said that he was unable to paint horses and paid another artist to do it for him, a claim which he vehemently denied.  Thornbury reports Henry Trimmer asking Turner if it was true that Gilpin had painted the horse in Hannibal Crossing the Alps.  Turner replied firmly that it was his own design and that no other painter had ever touched any picture of his.

Crop-Ear came to a tragic end in his stable, somehow managing to strangle himself in his reins. Turner was reported as being very upset by this sad accident. He and his father had to drag the body from the stable and bury it somewhere on his land.  No mean feat. And the mystery bones?  They turned out to be from a cow.

Car park  at St Margaret’s Tavern TwickenhamOld Crop-Ear’s final resting place? Car park at St Margaret’s Tavern Twickenham Photograph © David Meaden

Crop-Ear is most likely buried on the land that Turner bought as grazing.  When he sold Sandycombe Lodge in 1826, he kept the meadow, eventually selling it, at a handsome profit, to the Windsor, Staines & South Western Railway, which arrived in Twickenham in 1848.  The St Margaret’s Tavern now stands on the site and Crop-Ear, like a well-known English monarch, may well be buried under the car park.


David Meaden
Independent Researcher

Further reading:
Walter Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner R.A. founded on letters and papers furnished by his friends and fellow Academicians, Volume 1 (London, 1862)

 

Turner's House

Turner’s restored house in Twickenham is open. Check the website for details.