Monthly Archives: March 2015

William Bayntun

William Bayntun (1717—1785) was a barrister who resided at Gray’s Inn. He was admitted to Gray’s Inn in 1746, when he was already nearly 30, and called to the bar in 1760.  He was the youngest son of Henry Bayntun who was of a junior branch of the overly-complex Bayntun family of Wiltshire.  The senior branch had been prominent landowners for centuries, described by the DNB as “the quintessential county family”, developing over the years a wide array of land-holdings and intertwining marriages and trailing vast numbers of lawsuits before dying out (in the nineteenth generation) shortly before our William was born.

William did manage to acquire and inherit his own modest collection of estates to support him, and he married well to Catherine Sandys, an heiress, in 1756 (she was some twenty years his junior and still underage, but her father had died in 1754).  William and Catherine did not have any children and in his will, after providing for his wife, William left his estate to Windsor Sandys, a cousin of his wife’s. While William married, but did not have children, both his brothers had children, but did not marry.

William Bayntun was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and principally noted for his book collection, sold off after his death.  Also a supporter of the arts, he subscribed to the first edition of Joshua Kirby’s Method of Perspective, and was present at the 1757 dinner at the Foundling Hospital.

Dinner at the Hospital

The Foundling Hospital played an important role in the developing community of artists in London in the 1740s and 1750s. Hogarth was the principal force behind this.  Back in 1740, Hogarth had donated his portrait of Captain Coram to the hospital, and in 1746 Hogarth, together with Rysbrack, suggested a plan to the Governors of the Hospital whereby artists, principally painters and sculptors, would donate work to decorate the (public) areas of the hospital, and, in return, would have their work seen by those sections of polite society who might commission more work from the artists.  The plan was approved and became a great success.  A committee was formed to meet annually on November 5 to oversee the donations.  Hogarth, Francis Hayman, Joseph Highmore, James Wills, Thomas Gainsborough, Samuel Wale, Richard Wilson, and more all donated works.

Hogarth_Captain Coram

As was frequently the case in eighteenth-century England, the annual business meeting of the committee soon acquired a dinner, which grew into a large gathering of artists and their supporters.  Few records of these dinners survive, with the exception of the one held on November 5, 1757.  At this dinner, an astonishing 154 people signed the guest list.  The original list is long lost, but it was transcribed and later published in [Brownlow 1847, 17—20]. Brownlow sorted the names alphabetically within profession (Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers) and non-artist supporters (who did not get a heading).  He also included some helpful footnotes identifying some of the names. The list thus stands as one of the few lengthy sources of the names of active artists in the late 1750s.

Joshua Kirby was present at the dinner, and out of the artists there that evening, at least 40 had subscribed to his Method of Perspective, as well as some half a dozen of the supporters.

 

References

Brownlow, J. (1847) Memoranda; or, Chronicles of the Foundling Hospital, Including Memoirs of Captain Coram, etc. London.