Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Dress and Textiles, South West England: Artists and Subjects 53 Further information sought on the artist Miss C. B. Hunt

Topic: Artist

Dartmouth Museum would be grateful for any information that can be found about Miss C. B. Hunt, who painted this picture of the Dartmouth ‘Shambles’ – the area of town where meat was slaughtered and sold.

The museum owns 22 watercolours by Miss Hunt, in addition to this oil painting. The 23 paintings cover many locations round Dartmouth and date from circa 1839 – the watercolours, which are not on Art UK, are in good condition if a little faded towards the brown end of the spectrum. The collection knows almost nothing about Miss Hunt, not even her first names, beyond the fact that she was trained by an artist in Torquay. She does not appear in any references that they have yet found, but it is possible that others may have come across her work and know more about her.

Marion Richards, Art Detective Manager, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. Unfortunately, no artist by the name of C. B. Hunt has been found that can be positively linked to this oil painting or the watercolours attributed to ‘Miss Hunt’ in the same collection. The date has been adjusted to 1840s based on the costume.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Malcolm Fowles,

Few women named C Hunt in Devon appear in General Registration records at that time, and no C.B.

However, there is a marriage of one Catherine Hunt registered in July-Sep 1843 at Newton Abbot (vol 10 p223). This was the registration district for both Torquay and Dartmouth. The place where she was tutored is likely to be very near her home parish, in view of the travel habits of the time.

The GR indexes don't list the exact spouse, only those on the same register page. He is one of BURGE Thomas, STONE William, WALLER John or WHIPHAM Arthur. Perhaps she paints later under that name, or perhaps you know him as her tutor!

Malcolm Fowles,

In the 1841 census of Devon, there is a Catharine (note the "a") Hunt born 1821, living in Dawlish, also in Newton Abbot registration district.

The year of birth in the 1841 census is estimated, and could be out by up to 5 years.

Malcolm Fowles,

One birth on FindMyPast, in the parish register as Catharine, in 1821 in Kingsteignton, immediately north of Newton Abbot and halfway between Dawlish and Torquay.

Would the collection say that a tutored 18-20 year old could produce this oil and the watercolours?

Malcolm Fowles,

And to round this off, searching the 1851 census in FindMyPast for the spouses' names above, only Catherine Stone appears. She is in Dawlish. Her birth year is given as 1823 (but people often lied to the census enumerator).

I don't have a subscription to look up what it says about her. This matters because you can often tell from the census data (location and family work) what the person's circumstances are. 1841 hopefully reveals a family that could afford tuition for a daughter, and 1851 might reveal that she had the wherewithal to paint and exhibit under the name of Stone.

Best of luck.

Jacinto Regalado,

I expect she was never a professional artist except perhaps at a very local level, so there is probably little to be gained from searching beyond the Devon area (including, of course, relevant census data).

Pamela Gerrish Nunn,

Do the circumstances surrounding the museum's acquisition of these works hold no element that could be explored?

Andrew Chamberlain,

According to Eric Hemery's "Historic Dart" Miss C.B. Hunt was a pupil of Samuel Prout.
What are the chances that she used a pseudonym - a fairly common practice for female artists at that time?

Andrew Shore,

There's a Catherine Burdwood Hunt baptised in the Baptist church in Devonport in 1797:
Name: Catherine Burdwood Hunt
Gender: Female
Birth Date: 3 May 1797
Birth Place: Morice Square Baptist, Devonport, Devon, England
Father: Henry Hunt
Mother: Elizabeth
FHL Film Number: 0917110 (RG4 960)
(This is from a search on Ancestry, but the data is from

Martin Hopkinson,

Prout was born in Pymouth and his eary career was in Devon and Cornwall

Malcolm Fowles,

Catherine Burdwood Hunt feels right.

The GR index has a marriage that I overlooked because it was not in the Torquay-Dartmouth area.

Jul-Sep 1839; HUNT Catherine; East Stonehouse registration district, vol 9 p 355. The potential spouses are FORD Robert Eden; HANCOCK John; HARVEY Joseph; and HUSSEY William Thomas Hunt. She may paint later under her married name.

East Stonehouse parish is about 500 metres from Morice Square in Devonport. It used to have its own registration district.

Having researched my own ancestry, a well-off family in a Non-Conformist church would not be at all surprising. The marriage certificate would tell the collection more about Catherine, her father and husband.

Willian Thomas Hunt Hussey may indicate a 'cousinage' marriage, which was not uncommon when social circles were narrower and smaller (i.e in 'suitable class' and number terms). 'Pupil of Prout' might be more at second-hand through his published work (much of a self-help sort), since he was out of Plymouth from 1802 and only back there for the period 1805-08 in terms of local residence, rather than any social and family visits.

Malcolm Fowles,

When a name appears twice on the same or adjacent register pages, an alternative to a marriage between distant relatives is a double wedding, not uncommon generally.

I would like to ask the collection what is their precise evidence for the tutor; and, more significantly, the evidence for dating, and whether there is a date range hiding behind that "circa 1839". If C.B.Hunt signs a picture after the 1839 wedding, this lady becomes less likely.

Osmund Bullock,

William Thos Hunt Hussey did not marry Catherine Hunt - in later records his wife is given as Caroline Aylmer Hussey, so clearly she is the Caroline Aylmer Giles also on the page.

Osmund Bullock,

Attached (with acknowledgements to Free BMD) are all the relevant marriage partners, male & female, to assist with finding the right couple in subsequent censuses, etc. It should be noted, though, that while an 1839 marriage is perfectly possible, in probability terms it is unusually late for someone born in 1797.

Also a small correction to something Malcolm wrote at the top. Though Torquay (or the parishes that it later covered) does seem to have been part of Newton Abbot registration district until 1924, Dartmouth was only in it between 1968 & 1998. Before that (i.e. from 1837) Dartmouth was part of Totnes RD.

Osmund Bullock,

I was wondering if anyone else would find Catherine Burdwood Hunt! I, too, feel she is a very likely candidate. Attached is her (original) baptism entry from 1797. In it her father Henry, is stated to be a shipwright of the parish of Stoke Damerel - a large one that covered Devonport (and more), and became its registration district from 1837-1898. I wish, though, I could tie him in with a more central/east part of Plymouth (either St Andrew or Charles parish), where I have made some interesting discoveries in the late C18th/19th Plymouth rate books that may link the Hunts with the Prouts. More of that later - I'm still sifting through and collating a mound of raw data.

Malcolm Fowles,

We may not find a Catherine Ford in later censuses, because of this death record: Jan-Mar 1844; Ford Catherine; East Stoneham vol 9 page 244.

East Stoneham does not exist. A number of records were wrongly transcribed as such for the printed GR index. The volume and page number matches that of East Stonehouse Deaths in Q1 1844.

We may only know if CBH married Robert Eden Ford from the marriage certificate.

Before closing this discussion, I wonder if the collection could comment on Malcolm's request for 'the evidence for dating, and whether there is a date range hiding behind that "circa 1839". If C.B.Hunt signs a picture after the 1839 wedding, this lady becomes less likely.'

Thank you all for the detective work in finding the name of Catherine Burdwood Hunt, who may be our artist.

If the collection has photos of any of the watercolours, with figures in fashionable dress, it could help us with dating.

I don't think we need to take the 'pupil of Prout' seriously. It's not in his style and it's more likely she had rudimentary tuition from a local drawing master. I think we still also need to look at the 1841 census.

Pending any report of the 1841 census, the attached appears to be the story so far. An obvious possible cause of death following late marriage is subsequent late-pregnancy/childbirth complications -though only speculative unless there is some report.

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Osmund Bullock,

The earliest mention I can find of Miss Hunt and her Dartmouth watercolours (and this oil) is in a book about the early history of the town published in 1935: . A review from the Western Morning News is also attached. The caption on two of the watercolours illustrated in the book states they are “now in the possession of the Corporation of Dartmouth”, so J H Smith’s gift of them must have been well before 1949. They are also mentioned in several other books from the 1960s onward; and in at least one of those it is stated that *all* the works date from the same year, 1839, though that may be an error:

If the Collection has any further information whatever on the donor such as address or even sex, that would be immensely helpful – there can be no data protection issues involved with a gift at least 86 years ago, unless the donor was only 13 years old! And this is not just idle curiosity: I believe I may have found a better candidate for the artist than the elusive Catherine Burdwood Hunt, and I'm hoping to find a connection between her and JH Smith. More of her later – I have just ordered a copy of her Will that may possibly tell us more.

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Thank you very much Osmund. I've asked if we can have more information from the Collection, so we will wait and see. Museums will be preparing to reopen which will be a busy time for them, so we'll keep the discussion open. I have got access to Ancestry at home through our local library at present, so I started looking for Catherine Burdwood Hunt. I thought Burdwood might well be her mother's maiden name. There is an Elizabeth Birdwood (sic?) who married Henry Hunt, 4 Dec.1790, Stoke Damerel. I don't suppose that helps us in the slightest, and as you say you may have a better candidate, we will await developments. Many thanks for buying a copy a Will.

Trudy Sellers,

There are two questions recently raised again re the artist Miss. C. B. Hunt.
1. The date of her 22 sketches and oil painting done in Dartmouth. I do not think there is a date range. I consider that these were all done during a summer stay (August is stated) in the town. It is possible that the oil painting was completed at leisure, a little later.
Her works are used in Hugh Watkin’s book (1935) on Pre-Reformation Dartmouth. (These are an odd choice, since her sketches are all clearly early Victorian. The costumes of the people depicted confirm this. See examples attached.) In Watkin’s acknowledgements, he thanks a Mr W E Hoyles for the use of the sketches. (He notes that they had all then been ‘recently acquired by the corporation’. I find a Mr W E Hoyles in the area, as a medical practitioner in Paignton. I understand from our own catalogue that his daughter gifted them to the corporation, which subsequently passed them to the care of the Museum.
Miss Hunt’s connection with the town is interesting. I found a gossipy reference to her in a letter of one Mary Anne Burgess , in which Mary berates her for her style of jacket. I need to chase this, which I saw in a book by Todd Gray, called ‘Remarkable Women of Devon.’
I feel convinced about her having local links; her tutor is named in Watkin as the Plymouth artist Samuel Prout, of Devonport. It is also said that she had some tutoring in Torquay. These details support the idea that she is Catherine Birdwood/Burdwood of Devonport. Born 1797. She would have been 42 when completing the paintings of Dartmouth.
2. The question raised by Malcolm Fowles relates to the possibility of her marrying- perhaps in Newton Abbott. He and others wonder if she painted under her married name. I have as yet found no evidence. Any other Catherine Hunt’s do not fit the person, being too young. It is possible that her sketching spree was a one off, and possibly her only works in the public domain. Her local paintings are delightful, skilful, but not exceptional. I find no trace of her in painters’ societies. I do doubt that she married. She may also have painted under a different name than her own.
I have tried to trace what might have lured her to Dartmouth that summer. Maybe relatives, or friends. But beyond doubt the picturesque setting of the town would have been a major factor.

[ I shall continue to trace this artist and will alert the group should anything definitive emerge.]

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Although there is no necessary connection, in the 1841 census there was a Catherine Hunt, aged 45, living with an Eizabeth Hunt, aged 55, presumably a sister, both of independent means, in George Street, St Andrew’s Parish, Plymouth. Their neighbours were quite posh, naval officer, surgeon, accountant, dentist etc. Both were at Athenaeum Street, Plymouth, in the 1851 census, aged 59 and 66 (!), both described as an officer’s daughter.

According to, there is Dartmouth family Elias Ford (b.1719,) and wife Ann Hunt (b.1722) who had a son John Ford (b.1754). John married Mary Burdwood in 1777 and had children, John Ford (b. 1778), George Ford (b. 1780) and Catherine Burdwood Ford (1782-1815). Could this confluence of Burdwood and Hunt families be connected to Catherine Burdwood Hunt?

Trudy Sellers,

Thank you Andrew. The first lead I knew of, not the second. More digging worthwhile.

Mark Gray,

Further to Andrew Greg's two Misses Hunt, The 'Misses Hunt' lived at 8 Park Crescent, Torquay (Torquay Directory and South Devon, 11 September 1846).

Marcie Doran,

I thought I'd answer some of the questions that were asked earlier in this discussion.

Malcolm (23/07/2019 21:34) noted the marriage of Catherine Hunt in 1843. She married William Stone.

Malcolm (23/07/2019 22:12) noted a woman named Catherine Stone in Dawlish in 1841. She was a "female servant".

Malcolm (23/07/2019 22:28) noted the baptism of a Catharine Hunt in Kingsteignton in 1821. She was the daughter of Hannah Hunt and her husband Walter Hunt, a labourer. I ordered that record from FindMyPast but I'm not permitted to post it here.

Malcolm (23/07/2019 22:57) noted a Catherine Stone in Dawlish in 1851. She was the wife of William Stone, a tailor. Her birthplace was Kingsteighnton.

Malcolm mentioned a Catherine Hunt marrying in 1839 (24/07/2019 11:56) and Osmund (24/07/2019 17:24) listed the potential spouses. I ordered the marriage certificate for Catherine Hunt and it arrived yesterday. She married Joseph Harvey, a seaman, on 16 July 1839. She signed her name with an x".

Marcie Doran,

I've found some additional information about 'the Misses Hunt' (Andrew 08/06/2021 19:28 and Mark 21/06/2021 12:34). In my opinion, Catherine Hunt would not have been "Miss C.B. Hunt".

Nehemiah Augustus Hunt (d. 1818) and his wife Catherine (d. 1831/1832) were the parents of at least three children: Elizabeth Hunt (1785–1859), Catherine Hunt (1791–1879) and Major Richard Burgess Hunt (1787–1849).

The will of Nebehiah Augustus Hunt (PROB 11/1604/445) did not mention his daughters by name. Their mother (PROB 11/1805/28), their brother Richard (PROB 11/2089/353) and their uncle George Hunt (PROB 11/1865/350) all made bequests to the Hunt sisters but any middle names they might have had weren't mentioned in those wills.

The wills of Elizabeth Hunt and her sister Catherine Hunt did not mention their middle names (if any).

Marcie Doran,

Here are some articles that shed light on the donor of this work James Harry Smith (1884–1958).

A former Mayor of Dartmouth, Dr. Smith was a chemist, an optician and a pharmacist. Dr. Smith and his wife Annie Smith (née Mather)(1883–1972) had one child, a daughter named Myra Smith (later Knapton)(1911–2006).

Marcie Doran,

Here, too, are articles about W.E. Hoyles. It seems that William Ernest Hoyles (1879–1958), a draper who was a director at Messrs. Colson and Co. in Exeter, was very involved in researching the history of Exeter and locating historical objects for display. He reportedly kept a variety of historical objects in his office at the store. Mr. Hoyles and his wife Gertrude Mary Hoyles (née Rimes)(1881–1947) were the parents of one son Edgar Sparkes Hoyles (1915–1975).

I do not think this is significantly advanced from the tentative biographical summary I posted for the Catherine Burdwood Hunt whose dates are 1797-1844: see 10/05/2021 14:49

Andrew Greg added an intriguing and literally 'nominal' link (08/06/2021 19:42) but it has not been explained in practical terms: the only one it inherently suggests is if his Catherine Burdwood Ford also married a Hunt and had a daughter of the same forenames at age 15. That's possible though perhaps unlikely.

The question is really how much further this matter is worth pursuing, given it does not look as if a clear resolution will be found?

Marcie Doran,

Pieter, Malcolm wrote on 24/07/2019 11:56:

"Jul-Sep 1839; HUNT Catherine; East Stonehouse registration district, vol 9 p 355. The potential spouses are FORD Robert Eden; HANCOCK John; HARVEY Joseph; and HUSSEY William Thomas Hunt. She may paint later under her married name."

The attached certificate shows that Catherine Hunt married Joseph Harvey not Robert Eden Ford. I don’t think the biographical summary should include information about Catherine Hunt marrying Robert Eden Ford.

Thanks: slip corrected. It leaves us looking for a date of death of a Catherine Burdwood Hunt (bap. 1797, daughter of Henry, shipwright of Devonport), be it as 'Miss' or otherwise, and after about 1839 if the date of the material is to be credited.

Osmund Bullock,

Though the 1839 parish records for East Stonehouse are not online, I knew Catherine Hunt had married Joseph Harvey from their marriage licence (which is on Familysearch). However the licence gives few extra details, so Marcie's certificate is most welcome. By far the most important thing it reveals is the identity of the bride Catherine's father: he was Hezekiah Hunt, a shoemaker. That Catherine *cannot* therefore be Catherine Birdwood/Burdwood Hunt, whose parents were Henry Hunt, a shipwright, and his wife Elizabeth nee Birdwood.

In truth we still have no idea what happened to Catherine Burdwood Hunt after her birth on 3 May 1797, presumably in or near her parents' home in Stoke Damerel.

Osmund Bullock,

Sorry, Pieter, sight overlap there. Yes - I've been looking for what happened to CBH for nearly two years, on and off, without success. For the same reason (father's name) we can definitely eliminate the Catherine Hunt who married William Stone in 1843 - hers was called Walter (attached).

Marcie Doran,

This site about "Old Devonport" by Brian Moseley of Plymouth is interesting. CBH’s parents were likely buried at Stoke Damerel Parish Church.

I found mention of a Miss C.B. Hunt at a hotel in Torquay in 1872. She was possibly the "professor of music and singing" Catharine Barbara Hunt (1813–1896) who was born in Birmingham and lived in Wolverhampton. There is no evidence that she was also an artist.

Marcie Doran,

Is this work signed? Do any of the works include the surname "Hunt"? I noticed that the watercolour in Trudy's first comment (08/06/2021 17:52) has only the initials "C. B. H."

I’m curious about that reference to a "Miss Hunt" in the book mentioned by Trudy. Miss Mary Ann Burges of Awliscombe (1763–1813) was a well-known author and an artist. She specialized in "botanical, geological, and topographical drawing, watercolour, and painting". Would she have known this artist?

J Foster,

Is it perhaps Miss Catherine Hunt, granddaughter of Sir John Davie, 7th Bart. and niece of Sir Humphry-Phineas Davie, 10th Bart., of Creedy Park, Sandford, Crediton, Devon? Her mother Catherine Davie, daughter of Sir John (by his first wife Catherine, nee Stokes) and sister of Sir Humphry married Joseph Hunt Esq., of Kent, MP, Director of Greenwich Hospital for 19 years (d.1816, France) in April 1795 (BNA, Bath Chronicle, 16 April) and attached

Miss Catherine Hunt 'niece of Sir Humphry Davie' died in June 1869 'at her residence Sandford Lodge, Clifton Rd, Brighton' (Globe, 2 July , British Newspaper Archive) One of the executors was Henry Bowring Stephens, Sculptor, b. Exeter (Probate Search Service Effects under £4,000. Memorial to Humphry P Davie and Hunt families at St Swinthun's Church, Sandford, sculpted by Mr Bowring Stephens:

Extra Mural Cemetery, Brighton, Hunt burial records here:

Osmund Bullock,

Well, that Catherine Hunt (30 June 1800 - 28 June 1869) is possible, I suppose - she was certainly connected with Devon, and though there's no evidence of it, could well have been a visitor to her uncle Sir Humphry at Sandford - but even from there Dartmouth is at least a day and a half to two days' carriage drive, so it would have been no casual jaunt. She was clearly well acquainted with the Devon-born sculptor Edward (not Henry) Bowring Stephens, so there is also an artistic connection - but again we lack any actual evidence to suggest she took up art herself.

Her 1800 baptism (as well as those of her two elder brothers) was at Greenwich (St Alphege), so the family presumably lived there during at least the earlier part of her father's tenure from 1791 as Director of the Greenwich Hospital, though he had bought a house in Lee, Kent, at some stage before his forced resignation in 1810, after which the house was confiscated. After his death in France we don't know what happened to Catherine. Her mother was apparently resident in Brighton (at Marine Parade) when she died in Oct 1833, so it's likely Catherine was living there too - certainly directories and censuses show her resident in the town under her own name from 1841 until her death. Brighton to Dartmouth (or indeed to Sandford) would have been quite a journey in the late 1830s.

But the most telling objection is that neither at her christening on 30 August 1800, nor in the three censuses 1841-61, nor in her death registration, nor in her probate record, is a middle name or initial of any sort (let alone a 'B') ever given for her. So the case is not strong enough, I fear. She is possible, yes - but I'm sure there many other namesakes who had connections with the county, but didn't live there.

Jacob Simon,

We know for sure that the subject of the Hunt watercolour is Dartmouth Shambles. And that the work by Van Elven that Marcie reproduces does not portray the Shambles.

Whatever the interest of the comparison, I suggest that whether or not Van Elven was influenced in some way or another by a view of the Shambles by one artist or another is not helpful, at least for the current discussion.

I'm afraid every comparison made is of a feature common to very many 19th century picturesque townscapes and they don't really suggest any connection between these two particular artists.

We do not appear to have found any 'Miss C.B. Hunt' who might be linked to this oil or the related watercolours. I think we shold draw this to conclude this discussion.

Osmund Bullock,

I do have one hypothesis, but a lot of the evidence in support is circumstantial. I've done a lot of work in the last couple of years searching for more convincing proof without success; but I nevertheless think it's worth sharing, and will write it up in the next few days.

Osmund, thank you for offering to share that. Sheena is preparing a summary, so we'll close this after your final comments. I will be on leave from 25 July to 14 August, except for a couple of days in the middle.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

In the foreground there is a back view of a straw poke bonnet. One woman is wearing a large prob wool shawl with quite a full bulky skirt…These two elements, and bearing in mind that has to be the dress of a country-woman and not a high society woman- could well be in the mid 1840s - give or take … that would seem OK to me.

The man in the foreground is in tail coat, curly brimmed top hat and breeches. I have no doubt that knee breeches were still being worn at that date in out of the way places like Dartmouth... as were such coats and hats…by better-off men… So the male figure could also date from c 1845…give or take…

My images
Photo: ‘Lady Ruthven’, 1845, Hill and Adamson

Photo: ‘A Laundry Maid’, 1845 (University of St Andrews Special Collections)

Photo: LEGHORN HAT WEDDING - FARMER's WIFE /MILLER's DAUGHTER married1825 RUTLAND COUNTY MUSEUM - just to show a country hat COULD be very fashionable!

-POKE BONNET VELVET c 1845. V&A, acc. no. T.1039-1913 (image ID 2008BT6505)

Ford Madox Brown, ‘The Last of England’, 1850.

Silhouette of Wm Anketell, Cheltenham, 1836.

Osmund Bullock,

Trying to unravel the history of this painting (and the watercolours that are apparently part of the same group) has been deeply frustrating. Covid notwithstanding, the lack of a clear and full response to our many requests over over the years for *all* the information accompanying the works in Dartmouth Museum’s records has led to a depressing and all-too familiar sense that one is working on the task not with and for the Collection, but despite them.

Trudy Sellers (who I understand is a volunteer researcher at the museum) told us several things of value in her post of 08/06/2021 17:52, but much of the information seems uncertain and/or contradictory. It is also unclear how much of it reflects what is actually in the records, and how much is the result of deductions/guesses based on her own research. The ‘probably 1949’ donation date given in the Art UK listing is wrong or misleading – that was when the current museum was founded, but we know from Hugh Watkin’s book on pre-Reformation Dartmouth that the Corporation had acquired the paintings before the book’s publication in 1935 (the first mention of them I can find). Not long before that they were apparently in the possession of a Mr W E Hoyles, whom Trudy identifies as a doctor living in Paignton, and says that the museum catalogue states that it was his daughter who gifted them to the corporation (which subsequently passed them on to the Museum).

Osmund Bullock,

This is perplexing, as I can find no doctor with those initials in Paignton or indeed anywhere else in Devon in the 1920s, 30s or 40s. Marcie suggests rather more plausibly that the correct person is actually William Ernest Hoyles (1879-1958), the manager of an Exeter drapery store, who lived and worked in the city throughout the period concerned. He is widely recorded as an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable local historian, though in the late 1920s the local history collection he administered was in fact owned by his employers, Colson’s, having been acquired by them from a “well-known citizen” (unidentified). It seems highly likely he or his employer was the former owner of the group of paintings – but if so the story of the donor being his daughter makes no sense, as William Hoyles ands his wife Gertrude had only one child, a son!

To confuse things still further, the Art UK-listed donor, ‘J H Smith’, has been identified by Marcie (one hopes correctly) as a former mayor of Dartmouth, Dr James Harry Smith. But though he did at least have a daughter, how can he fit into all this? His mayoralty was in 1930/31/32, which seems too early for him to have been just the official ‘owner’ (as head of the town corporation) who presented them to the museum on its foundation in 1949.

Osmund Bullock,

But the most fundamental worry is that we have no idea how reliable the attribution to ‘Miss C B Hunt’ is. We know that at least two of the sketches are signed ‘C.B.H.’ – but do any actually bear the name ‘Hunt’ on them anywhere? If not, where did that come from, and indeed how did they even know the artist was female? – the works were a century old when Watkin, Hoyles and others were discussing them, so there must surely have been some sort of annotation or accompanying paperwork that gave more details. The same two initialled sketches are dated 1839, and at least one other is apparently more precisely dated to August of that year. Does our oil have anything on the back (I can see nothing on the front), or is its association with the sketches just deduced/assumed?

Without satisfactory answers to any of these questions I am beginning to fear that we have been on an entirely pointless wild goose chase in our pursuit of ‘Miss C B Hunt’.

Jacinto Regalado,

Alas, Osmund, as I expect you know, even when a collection is being asked to do no more than passively look over clear and conclusive evidence regarding the subject or artist of one of its works, it may not respond. It is thus hardly surprising that asking for active cooperation entailing some measure of effort or trouble may go nowhere.

I’d like to close the discussion now and thank everybody for their hard work and lateral thinking, since 2019, in trying to identify the artist Miss C. B. Hunt. Unfortunately, no artist of that name has been found that can be positively linked to the oil painting under discussion or the watercolours in the same collection. We have not heard from the collection since 2021 and if any further information emerges then a new discussion can be started. The information archived in this current discussion may well prove invaluable for future research. The date of the Dartmouth street scene has been confirmed as the 1840s from the costume and is perhaps a little later than the watercolours of c.1839.

Osmund Bullock,

I don’t wish to delay closure, which I agree is more than due. But I said I would give details of a Catherine Hunt whom I thought was circumstantially interesting, though proof that she’s our artist is lacking. After reviewing the sparse and conflicting nature of the background info we have, I became unsure if there was any point in re-introducing her; but as a fair amount has already been written about her by both Andrew (Greg) and Marcie, perhaps adding a few more details can do no harm.

Catherine (or Catharine) Hunt was the youngest of four children so far traced of Nehemiah Augustus Hunt (1761-1818) and his wife Catherine née Hamlyn, who were married at Plymouth in May 1784. NAH’s 1813 Will, however, says there were three other daughters then living, of whom I’ve discovered nothing. Even more frustratingly, although the baptisms of the first three children are recorded at Plymouth (Elizabeth Mar 1785, Richard Burges Oct 1786, George Jan 1790), that of Catherine (also born Plymouth, probably Apr-Dec 1791) is not to be found anywhere; and a middle name is not given for her in any of the four censuses 1841-71, nor is it in her 1879 burial record. Moreover, as Marcie notes, in none of the family Wills that name her (including her own) is one mentioned either; but her eldest brother Richard (an officer in the R.A.) had Burges [sic] as his middle name, and one of her paternal uncles, William Buckley Hunt (1766-1812), a captain in the Royal Navy, also had a middle name beginning with ‘B’…so there were such names already blowing around in the family.

This is thin gruel so far, I admit. But where it gets more interesting is that Catherine’s father, an officer in the Royal Marines and later Barrack Master of their Plymouth depot and a naval agent, certainly was an artist, and an accomplished one. He was an honorary exhibitor of four landscapes at the Royal Academy between 1789 and 1811 ( , and of sufficient skill for Joseph Farington to seek him out in Oct 1809, and record the meeting in his diary: Hunt had returned from nearly two years serving in America in Aug 1788 ( , which might have triggered his artistic endeavours – it certainly explains the gap in the run of his children. And interestingly his own father, also Nehemiah (d.1799), a ship’s master in the R.N., seems also to have had some drawing skills, at least of charts – in the summer of 1769 he assisted John Bradley in the Board of Longitude’s expedition to the Lizard to observe the transit of Venus, which also sought to measure more precisely the position of Lizard Point and the dangerous reef that extended from it (Stag Rocks). See (pp 5,8,9) - a fascinating read for any reason.

In a memorandum at the end his Will & 1817 codicil (attached), Captain N A Hunt does actually mention his own pictures, but gives specific instructions for the dispersal of some only to his two sons. The language of the Will, in which at no point is any of his seven daughters named (though they are fairly provided for), gives the distinct impression that he was not terribly interested in his female offspring. Which might possibly explain why, if one of those daughters inherited his artistic interests and talent, nothing was made of it.

One final detail that adds a little (but not much) to the hypothesis is that the “Misses Hunt” found by Mark in a Torquay directory in 1846 were in fact only visitors to the town – see attached. They may well, though, be our Misses Hunt (Elizabeth & Catherine), though there’s no proof. Borough rate books show Elizabeth resident in Plymouth from at least 1828, and the two sisters were living together in Plymouth in both 1841 & 1851 censuses. But if they were indeed visiting Torquay in 1846, that supports the idea that they may have taken regular holidays together further afield in Devon – Torquay is not at all far from Dartmouth. See attached.