British 19th C, except portraits, Dress and Textiles, South West England: Artists and Subjects 25 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

1 attachment


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.

1 attachment
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.

1 attachment

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.]

2 attachments

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).

Please support your comments with evidence or arguments.

jpg, png, pdf, doc, xls (max 6MB)
Drop your files here
Attach a file Start uploading

Sign in

By signing in you agree to the Terms & Conditions, which includes our use of cookies.