Monthly Archives: May 2013

An American in London

The young Peter Manigault (1731—1773), as was the case with many of his contemporaries, was sent from Charleston to London by his family in order to complete his education. Manigault arrived in England in the summer of 1750, and returned to America in the fall of 1754. In between he wrote many letters to his parents, which were published in a series of articles in the South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine between 1930 and 1932. His father, Gabriel Manigault, was a wealthy merchant and landowner, and able to support his son in a growing style, as these extracts from Peter’s letters reveal.

On landing in England, he sent a quick note back to his father:

We arrived here last Sunday after a pleasant though dangerous Passage, for off of the Banks of Newfoundland we met with several monstrous Islands of Ice, which with the Help of a Gale of Wind had like to have shortened our Passage some hundred Leagues, And indeed considerg the Darkness of the Night twas great good Fortune, we had not all perished. Mr. Corbett & Myself intend to set out for London tomorrow Morning..

His first letter to his father from London gave warning of the expenses to come.

I have lost no time since I have been in London; I have been at Westminster Hall every Day since the Courts have sit, and have kept my Commons at the Temple Hall. Though I know little of London, yet I can perceive, that nothing can be done in it without Money, But I shall make such good use of all that shall be expended upon me, that I am sure you will think it well laid out.

Peter Manigault’s observations on London remind me of the great quote by a slightly later traveler, Casanova, that: “In London, everything is easy to him who has money and is not afraid of spending it”. Peter Manigault’s stay would cost his father around £1000.

Once settled in, he wrote to his mother:

I have seen most of the Places of Diversion about London, and find none of them come up to my expectation, or the Charactar I heard of them. I was at Windsor, at the Installation of the Knights of the Garter, on the 12th of July, which, I think the finest Thing, I have seen, since I have been in England; Especially the Ball in the Evening, at which two or three hundred of the finest Ladies, in the Kingdom were present.

Later in August, another letter shows him becoming serious about his education:

I am, this day, to begin to learn to dance, of a Master who has as good a Name, as any in London, he has therefore, no doubt, as good a Price; no less than two Guineas Entrance! & two Guineas a Month, however he waits upon me, at Mr Corbett’s to teach me, there are Masters, who would teach for half the Money, but both Mr Corbett & myself, think, tis best to learn of the most expert.

Letters went back and forth on the various ships that travelled between England and America, at a very uncertain speed and with no guarantee of arrival. Along with the letters, Manigault sent back presents of the latest London type.

I have sent by Capt Crosthwaite, some Prints for the Camera, & also four Fans, One, for yourself, & the other three, for Miss Banbury, Hasell, & Prioleau, which I hope will come safe.

For his own part, he felt he should dress as a gentleman, but not too extravagantly. In a letter to his mother of February 1751, he wrote:

You desire to know how I dress, I suppose you mean by that, how many laced Coats I have had, I can easily satisfy you in this Particular, by telling you I have had one, which I was in a manner forced to get, for I never went into public without Lace, and was taken any Notice of; they wont even give one a Seat in Church, without a good Suit of Clothes on, as I can witness; For one Sunday Evening, I went with Billy Drayton to hear the celebrated Mr Foster, I was drest quite plain, my Friend had a Laced Waistcoat and hat, he, or rather his Laced Waistcoat, was introduced into a pew, while I, that is, my plain Clothes, were forced to stand up, during the whole time of divine Service, in the Isle. This Coat is a very decent, and in my Opinion a very proper one, when I desired Mr Corbett to let me have such a Coat, he answered me, that he thought it was not at all improper, but that he was afraid my Father might not altogether approve of it, but that however I might please myself; By pleasing myself, I hope I have not displeased you, For as to my Dress in general, (If I do not neglect Matters of greater Moment,) I am willing to believe, you would have me please myself, provided I am neither foppish nor extravagant.

By April 1751, he had been dancing for six months and, after a certain amount of negotiation with his father of whether he would get a full-length of half-length portrait, he was painted by Allan Ramsay..

And now a few Words concerning my Picture, which comes by this Opportunity. Tis done by one of the best Hands in England, and is accounted by all Judges here, not only an Exceeding good Like ness, but a very good Piece of Painting: The Drapery is all taken, from my own Clothes, & the very Flowers in the lace, upon the Hat, are taken from a Hat of my own…I was advised to have it drawn by one Keble, that drew Tom Smith, & several others that went over to Carolina, but upon seeing his Paintings, I found that though his Likenesses, (which is the easiest Part in doing a Picture,) were some of them very good, yet his Paint seemed to be laid on with a Trowel, and looked more like Plaistering than Painting, you may guess at the Difference between Ramsay, & Keble Painting, by the Difference of their Prices, What Ramsay demands Four & Twenty Guineas for, T’other humbly hopes, you’ll allow him Seven… You’ll also tell me if you think any Part of it to gay, the Ruffles are done charmingly, and exactly like the Ruffles I had on when I was drawn, you see my Taste in Dress by the Picture, for every thing there, is what I have had the Pleasure of wearing often.

The picture’s current location is unknown, but there is an old photograph of it.

Armed with the ability to dance minuets, and a fashionable portrait taken care of, Peter Manigault did settle down to study law, eventually securing his father’s permission to rent his own chambers, and being called to the Bar in 1754, a few months before his return. His letters provide a charming snapshot of life in London for a young, rich American in the 1750s. He was fond of the theater, graduating from the Pit to a box suitable for a gentleman over the course of his studies.

Cunningham on Tom Peartree

Fulcher gave a richly-detailed anecdote of young Thomas Gainsborough sketching a pear-thief, but where did Fulcher get the story from? While it appears that Fulcher embroidered the story with details of his own invention, it seems that his main source was Allan Cunningham. Cunningham (1784—1842) was a Scottish poet who moved to London in 1810 and in 1829-30 produced The Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters,Sculptors, and Architects, the first volume of which included a chapter on Gainsborough. Cunningham’s version contains most of the elements of Fulcher’s. but is somewhat shorter and omits the embellishment of the summer-house.

On one occasion he was concealed among some bushes in his father’s garden, making a sketch of an old fantastic tree, when he observed a man looking most wistfully over the wall at some pears, which were hanging ripe and tempting. The slanting light of the sun happened to throw the eager face into a highly picturesque mixture of light and shade, and Tom immediately sketched his likeness, much to the poor man’s consternation afterward, and much to the amusement of his father, when he taxed the peasant with the intention of plundering his garden, and showed him how he looked. Gainsborough long afterward made a finished painting of this Sudbury rustic—a work much admired among artists—under the name of Tom Peartree’s portrait.

See Also:

Fulcher on Tom Pear Tree

Thicknesse on Pear Tree.

References:

Cunningham, A. (1829). The Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and architects. London: J. Murray

Fulcher, G.W. (1856). Life of Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans.

Fulcher on Tom Pear Tree

Gainsborough’s first full-length biography was by George Williams Fulcher, also from Sudbury, posthumously edited and completed by his son and published in 1856 (Fulcher having died the previous year). Fulcher’s account is highly readable and informative, although peppered with minor inaccuracies, and colorful and conjectural in equal parts. Fulcher naturally discusses the painting of Tom Pear Tree, although from a somewhat different perspective from that of Thicknesse. Fulcher prefigures the story earlier on, saying:

The house in which Gainsborough was born had a spacious and well-planted orchard annexed to it, and several of the trees are still standing that were there in the Painter’s boyhood. Amongst them is the Pear-tree, the robbery of which, as will be hereafter related, furnished his first attempt at portrait painting.

A chapter or two later, in his colouful Victorian way, Fulcher gives the story:

At the back of the house in which Gainsborough was born, there was, as we have observed, a spacious orchard. It was separated only by a slight fence from the public road, and the clusters of ripe fruit had long proved too strong a temptation for some of the passers-by. But no clue could be obtained likely to lead to the detection of the culprits, until one morning, young Gainsborough having risen very early, proceeded to a rustic summer house at the further end of the orchard, and there commenced a sketch of one of the picturesque trees in the enclosure. Whilst thus employed, he observed a man’s face peeping over the fence and looking most wistfully at the mellow pears. The youthful portrait-painter immediately made a sketch of his features, in which roguery and indolence, hope and fear, were happily blended; I dare not, evidently waited on, I would. After gazing about him, he proceeded to scale the fence and climb the tree, when Gainsborough emerged from his hiding place, and the man decamped. At breakfast, tom related the story, and laid upon the table a faithful likeness of the marauder, who was immediately known to be a man living in Sudbury. On being sent for and taxed with the felonious intent, he stoutly denied it, till the boy produced the portrait, and shewed him how he looked when about to break the eighth commandment. This juvenile effort was preserved for many years, and Gainsborough ultimately made a finished painting of it, under the title of “Tom Peartree’s Portrait.”

Interestingly, Fulcher’s account of how Gainsborough’s facility for accurate portraiture captured a thief comes immediately after his version of young Tom’s apprehension for forging his father’s signature.

When Fulcher deals with Thicknesse’s relationship with Gainsborough, he quotes in full Thicknesses’ account of being fooled by the Tom Pear Tree portrait, adding a footnote that, “Notwithstanding the lapse of a century, this figure is still preserved. It was discovered, some years ago, in an old summer-house on the premises which Gainsborough had occupied.”

Bonus Feature

Fulcher (the younger) on Thicknesse, “Within a month of his decease, his early patron, Thicknesse, published a brief memoir, “written,” he says, “in one day,”—of which we need not here say more, than that it deservedly enjoyed a fame of equal duration.” Another wry footnote comments on Thicknesse’s memoir, “The style of this curious publication is so defiant of all the rules of composition that alterations for grammar’s sake have been occasionally made in the quotations.” Possibly my favorite comment is, “Thicknesse, always guiltless of chronology”.

See also

Thicknesse on Pear Tree.

References

Fulcher, G.W. (1856). Life of Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans.

Thicknesse, Philip (1788). A sketch of the life and paintings of Thomas Gainsborough.

Thicknesse on Pear Tree

One of Thomas Gainsborough’s early paintings was of a man leaning on the top of a wall. Now known as Tom Pear Tree, the painting is at Ipswich.

There are several anecdotes about this painting, and maybe we’ll give more later, but for now here is Philip Thicknesse’s version. The irascible Thicknesse, who modestly claimed to be “the first man who perceived, though through clouds of bad colouring, what an accurate eye he possessed, and the truth of his drawings, and who dragged him from the obscurity of a Country Town”, wrote a biography of Gainsborough shortly after his death. In true Thicknessian fashion, about half the biography is devoted to a portrait of Thicknesse that Gainsborough never finished. Here is how Thicknesse relates his first encounter with Gainsborough’s work.

Soon after his [Gainsborough’s] remove to Ipswich I was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Land Guard Fort, not far distant, and while I was walking with the then printer and editor of the Ipswich journal, in a very pretty town garden of his, I perceived a melancholy faced countryman, with his arms locked together, leaning over the garden wall, I pointed him out to the printer, who was a very ingenious man, and he with great gravity of face, said the man had been there all day, that he pitied him, believing he was either mad, or miserable. I then stepped forward with an intention to speak to the mad man, and did not perceive, till I was close up, that it was a wooden man painted upon a shaped board. Mr. Creighton (I think that was the printer’s name) told me I had not been the only person this inimitable deception had imposed upon, for that many of his acquaintance had been led even to speak to it, before they perceived it to be a piece of art, and upon finding the artist himself lived in that town, I immediately procured his address, visited Mr. Gainsborough, and told him I came to chide him for having imposed a shadow instead of a substance upon me.

He came to chide, but stayed to praise, and later commissioned Gainsborough to paint a view of Land Guard Fort.

See also:

Fulcher on Tom Pear Tree.

See William Lynch.

References

Thicknesse, Philip. 1788. A sketch of the life and paintings of Thomas Gainsborough.

Tea Smuggling

Tea was a very popular drink in England during the 18th century. However, it was expensive. The East India Company held a monopoly on the import of tea, and kept prices high; governments, for their part, saw it as a useful source of revenue and slapped taxes and import duties on it, especially when a war needed funding. These high costs were an incentive to illegal importation, and the result was an epidemic of tea smuggling. By its nature, it is difficult to determine the level of illicit imports, but estimates run as high as half the tea drunk in England at times. Newspaper reports on tea smuggling abound. Here are a couple of relatively peaceful ones from the Ipswich Journal of the 1730s.

The Practice of running Tea is grown to such a height that there is no stoping it, and the fair Trader suffers extremely by it; however the Smuglers have been met with at Seven Oaks in Kent, where last Week 2400 pounds weight, and 100 of row Coffee run from Ostend was seized by Mr. Brown the Supervisor, and Mr. Lidgater Officer there, who ’tis believed will have 100 l. each for their Share by their Seizure.

On Thursday in the Afternoon, as a Cart, seemingly loaded with Hay, was coming over London-Bridge, a Bag fell out at the Tail, which some of the Shop keepers perceiving, call’d after the Driver to come back and take it uup; but instead of stopping to look for the Bag, he ran away and left his Cart, to the great Astonishment of the People, who began thereupon to enquire into the Contents of the said Bag, and found it full of Tea, and the Cart loaded with the same Commodity, only cover’d with Hay for a Blind; so that it was immediately seiz’d and brought to the Excise Office. There were 13 Bags, containing about 6 C. wt.

Interactions between smugglers and excise officers were not always so benign, as you can read about here.

Philip Winterflood

Philip Winterflood subscribed to Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account. The Winterflood family lived at Bury St. Edmund’s. Philip ran the Six Bells and the town Assembly Rooms. Untangling the family relationships is tricky. A Christopher Winterflood, possibly his brother, was a baker and ran the Bushel Inn, but went bankrupt in 1758. Philip himself his recorded as having four sons: Philip, Joseph, William and Thomas. William died at age 11. Of Joseph and Thomas I know nothing. Who their mothers were is even more perplexing. There are two burials recorded of wives of Philip Winterflood at Bury St. Edmund’s, a Mary age 22 in 1722, and a Rebecca, aged 22 in 1725/6. There is also a marriage recorded of a Philip Winterflood and Alice Spratt in 1725.

Philip went into business as a brewer with his son Philip, who seems to have married a Martha Spratt. The younger Philip died in 1762, and the elder Philip had a difficult time sorting out the brewery finances and closing the business down – there was apparently a lot of disagreement among debtors and creditors as to which were personal debts, and which business ones and who was liable. In the midst of all this wrangling, the younger Philip’s widow died in 1763. Cleaning up the financial mess rolled on into 1764, when John Winterflood, another Innholder, at the Three Kings, died, although his daughter and her husband planned to keep the inn running.

Philip let the Six Bells in 1773, but kept running the Assembly Hall until 1777 (it is now known as the Athenaeum and has been extensively remodeled since then, but is still standing near the Abbey gate.

Philip Winterflood died in 1783, at the reputed age of 90. As a well-known figure around town, he was portrayed in caricature by local artist Henry William Bunbury, and also by R. Yates shortly before he died.

Tobias Rustat

The Rev. Tobias Rustat (1716—1793) subscribed to the first edition of Kirby’s Method of Perspective. The Rustat family did not have long ties to Suffolk. The most illustrious ancestor, namesake Tobias Rustat (1608—1694), performed long, loyal, honorable, and lucrative service to the Stuart Kings. He was a servant, at times the only servant, to Charles II on the Continent during Cromwell’s rule, after the Restoration becoming Yeoman of the Robes, among other titles and perquisites.

Figure 1 Tobias Rustat (1608-1694)

He was somewhat unfairly characterized by the diarist John Evelyn as “a very simple, ignorant, but honest and loyal creature”, although Evelyn did not his “wonderful frugality”. Rustat seems to have been shrewd in gaining his fortune and generous in disposing of it. A life-long bachelor, he gave the first endowment to Cambridge University Library, and endowed a number of scholarships for orphans of clergy to attend Jesus College, Cambridge (where his father had gone). When he died at age 85, most of his fortune of some £20,000 was distributed among his various relatives, with a large portion going to a great-nephew, Tobias Rustat (1668—1744). This Tobias settled in Suffolk, at Withersfield, and had fourteen children, eight by his first wife, Mary Towers, and six by his second wife, Frances Tipping, daughter of Rev. Thomas Tipping, Rector of Weston Colville. Our Tobias was the eldest child of Frances Tipping and Tobias.

Young Tobias Rustat was educated at Saffron Walden and Bury St. Edmunds and in due course went up to Cambridge, to Jesus College. He got his BA in 1739, a year behind Laurence Sterne, his MA in 1742, and was a Fellow of the college 1743—1746. He was ordained deacon in 1739, and priest in 1741. He was Rector of Fordham in Cambridgeshire from 1745 to 1754, rather out of Kirby’s orbit. However, in 1748, he was presented with the living of Stutton, near Ipswich, by his uncle Thomas Tipping. He held this last position for the rest of his life, although he did occasionally add others. The Rectory of Stutton would have provided a comfortable living, but Tobias could draw on the resources of his inheritance, and he married an heiress from Devon, Sarah Paige, whose father had died when she was 11, leaving Sarah and her sister each a £12,000 dowry. The Rustats lived well, extended the Rectory, and laid out extensive grounds. They had estates around Suffolk, but no children.

Gainsborough painted Rustat’s portrait in 1756 or 1757, at a time when he had a number of commissions from clergymen, and he also painted Sarah Paige, Mrs. Rustat, a year or two later.


In his will, Tobias left £300 to a godson William Lynch, who was presumably related to the William Lynch we have already mentioned.

We will leave Tobias Rustat with this brief notice of his farming prowess from an advertisement in the Ipswich Journal of 1790:

To be Sold

A Beautiful Black and White BULL, Spotted with great variety of round black spots; of remarkable fine shape and great one; bred from the stock of the Rev. Tobias Rustat of Stutton, long distinguished for his elegant taste for spotted cattle, of every colour as fashion has varied; and for which it is computed by a very accurate calculator, that he has paid Two hundred pounds for spots. The above bull is now two years old, perfectly sound, free from vice, and may be seen at Mr. Joseph Rowe’s, farmer at Tuddenham near Ipswich, who will sell the same.

References

Lewin, P.I. (1989/90). “The Revd Tobias Rustat of Stutton and his family”, Gainsborough’s House Society Annual Report, 35–39.