of KINGSBRIDGE Private collection





PETER THOMAS WESTCOTT
Aged 10
Seen to waist, ¾ face to the right. Long rich auburn hair; in dark coat, gilt buttons, frilled collar.

Painted 1793
Oil on canvas

20” x 16” (relined before 1878)
Conservation: 2005

IN 1794 the sitter inherited the picture from his mother, who specified it in her will.

THE WESTCOTT FAMILY
The Westcotts lived in St Andrews, Holborn. There was a slating business in what is now Grays Inn Road. Family tradition says they worked on the parish church.
They are described as OF KINGSBRIDGE, Devon, but the family appears to have moved away from that area in the early 18th century.

PETER THOMAS WESTCOTT
Peter Thomas Westcott had a number of articles published anonymously in THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE. This was a cheap monthly publication intended for a wide audience, including those who would not normally buy books. There was a wide range of topics in each publication.
Westcott sent articles in anonymously, signing as PTW.
He contributed a piece on the ROSE OF JERICHO, with details of the nature of the plant. When an elephant was in the news, Westcott had a piece about elephants. He had a literary tone in ON THE RESPLENDANT BEAUTIES OF THE FIREFLY
Westcott was described by the editor, Byerly, as “a gentleman of independent property who in his ubiquitous career of utility did good by stealth and carried the ‘twopenny’ into public instituions and intellectual resorts of a description most calculated to serve its distribution.” Presumably Westcott acted as an agent for the publication or simply gave copies of it away.

He also had work in the rather more prestigious GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE
(See "Literature: Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: Reading the Magazine of Nature" By Geoffrey N. Cantor published by CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS)

He was buried in his home parish of St Andrew's Holborn on February 10th 1845.

OPIE'S PORTRAITS OF THE WESTCOTT FAMILY OF KINGSBRIDGE, DEVON

MR. JOHN WESTCOTT and his wife HANNAH (HANCOCK) had seven children: Hannah, Honour, Anne, Mary, Peter Thomas, John Hancock and Jane Sarah Susannah.

In 1793 John Opie painted portraits of Hannah, Anne, Mary, Peter Thomas, John Hancock and Jane Sarah Susannah.

He also painted Hannah’s brother, John Eastman Hancock.

He did not paint HONOUR, because she was married (Married name FRY)
He did not paint Mr. John Westcott , as he had died in 1790.

Opie would have stayed at the home of the Westcotts, probably for several weeks, while painting the series of portraits.


THE PICTURES

MRS. HANNAH WESTCOTT (1750- 1794)
Hannah Hancock, widow of John Westcott, of Kingsbridge, Devon, who died in 1790
Painted 1793
Canvas 30” x 25” (relined before 1878)
Seen to waist, full face, frizzled light hair, in lace cap and fichu, her hands folded on her lap. In her right hand is a letter signed HONOUR FRY, the name of her married daughter, whose miniature likeness hangs from her neck. A red curtain at the back.
A carefully finished picture.
She died within twelve months of the completion of the paintings.



ANNE WESTCOTT
Afterwards MRS. FREDERICK WALLER, of Doughty Street, London
Aged about 15
Painted 1793 (John Jope Rogers gives the date as 1799, but given the other family portraits this is unlikely)
Canvas 21 1/8” x 17 1/8”
Seen to waist, ¾ face to left; in low white dress, yellow sash; long ringlets, hair cur short over forehead.
Seated with a background of clear sky and landscape with a mountain.
A very interesting face.


Given to Philadelphia Museum of Art


MARY WESTCOTT
Afterwards MRS. BENJAMIN WALLER of Kilburn, London
A little younger than Anne
Painted 1793 (John Jope Rogers gives the date as 1799, but given the other family portraits this is unlikely.)
Canvas, 21 1/8” x 17 5/6”
Seen to waist, ¾ face to left, in low white dress and yellow sash; a very pleasing likeness.
Seated on a chair partially visible to our right, wainscot to the left.
(This from John Jope Rogers. Philadelphia Museum gives this background for sister MARY)


Given to Philadelphia Museum of Art

PETER THOMAS WESTCOTT (1783- 1846)
Aged 10
Painted 1793
Canvas 20” x 16” (relined before 1878)
Seen to waist, ¾ face to the right. Long rich auburn hair; in dark coat, gilt buttons, frilled collar.
In 1794 he inherited the picture from his mother, who specified it in her will.

JOHN HANCOCK WESTCOTT (1787- 1849)
Aged 7
Second son of John and Hannah Westcott. Later an officer in the army
Painted 1793
Canvas 21” x 17” (relined before 1878)
Seen ¾ face to left. Long glossy brown hair, tall black velvet hat, in red coat with frilled collar, holding a black spaniel left, in shadow. In a landscape
In 1794 he inherited the picture from his mother, who specified it in her will.

JANE SARAH SUSANNAH WESTCOTT (1790- 1834)
Aged 3
Daughter of John and Hannah Westcott.
She married Alfred Augustus Fry
Painted 1793
Canvas 20 ½” x 16 ½”
Seen to waist, seated in a landscape with clear grey sky. ¾ face to the right. Blue eyes, flaxen hair, in short sleeved white frock and buff sash; a spaniel on her lap with pink ribbon round his neck.
A very graceful portrait. The head shows the influence of Joshua Reynolds

IN 1794 she inherited the picture from her mother, who specified it in her will.

Her husband, Alfred Augustus Fry, was a genuinely 'good' person in commerce. Unusual in the middle classes, he performed acts of great kindness, of ungrudging self-sacrifice etc. A leader of leaders. He was highly respected. He was a partner for Thomas De La Rue and Co, 110 Bunhill Row, London


JOHN EASTMAN HANCOCK (1755- 1832)
Brother of Mrs. John Westcott
Painted (?)1793 when Opie painted the rest of the Westcott family
Canvas 29”x 40” (relined before 1878)
See to waist, seated in a chair, dark blue coat, striped buff waistcoat; full face, powdered hair, his right hand holds a letter, his left hand gloved; white neck cloth and frill, red undercoat just seen at left: two books lie on a table at his left, a red curtain at his back.

HANNAH WESTCOTT (1776- 1847) Hannah was baptized at St. Andrews, Holborn - 1776, married William Stanton and lived in Hitchin. Died in 1847 at St. Mary's Hitchin, Herts - Gravestone is still legible.
Hannah Westcott is mentioned in an extra note on her father John's will which was proved in 1797 after the death of Hannah Hancock Westcott. Opie did not paint her portrait.

OPIE, WOLCOT and KINGSBRIDGE
Opie may have painted the portraits in London. If there was a still a Kingsbridge property, the portraits may have been painted there over a summer visit.
The connection with Kingsbridge is Dr John Wolcot.Earland (JOHN OPIE AND HIS CIRCLE- 1912 COLNAHGHI)says "The Westcotts were intimate friends with Wolcot." (p322)
JOHN WOLCOT was the man who discovered, trained and managed Opie. He was a Kingsbridge man, from Dodbrooke- his father had been a doctor there. Wolcot moved away from Kingsbridge but kept in touch with the area and organised portrait commissions. He had Opie paint Cookworthy,for example.
When Opie moved to London he regualarly returned to Cornwall for summer visits and was always ready to undertake commissions at houses en route.
There were several patrons in that area.
Sir John Seale, at Mount Boon, Dartmouth, had portraits of his children.
In about 1785 Opie spent six weeks at Tavistock, painting the GULLETT family.
In the summer of 1791 he was at Plymouth, not far from Kingsbridge, again producing portraits.

By 1793 when he painted the Westcotts, Opie was a highly successful London portrait artist, a member of the Royal Academy. A full family set such as this would have been costly.


KINGSBRIDGE
It has not yet been possible to find where the Westcott family lived. HANNAH WESTCOTT
Hannah Westcott died within twelve months of the creation of the paintings. This left the children without living parents.
THE FAMILY NAME
Judging by the provenance of the pictures, it seems that the Westcott sons did not have children. Four girls- Honour, Anne, Mary and Hannah all had children, but the family name apparently did not survive beyond the deaths of the boys in 1846 and 1849.

There is now no existing tradition of a Westcott family in Kingsbridge.
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