Completed Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 18th C, Portraits: British 19th C 52 Is the artist identifiable and can this portrait be dated better than c.1780?

Reverend Thomas Thirlwall of Bowers Gifford
Topic: Subject or sitter

The sitter was curate of St Dunstan's, Stepney, from 1790 to 1814 before becoming vicar of Bowers Gifford, and from about 1800 a well-known London preacher/religious writer, public moralist and Middlesex JP (1811).

Thirlwall was born at Darlington as fourth child and youngest of three sons of an Excise officer called John Thirlwall and was baptised there on 14 March 1764. That is most likely to have been his year of birth, probably in January/ early February, but I suppose one should strictly note it as '1763/1764'.

We can be sure that when he died at Bowers Gifford, Essex, in March 1827 he was 63, although enquiry there has yielded no trace of burial or other monument.

Pieter van der Merwe, Maritime Subjects, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The sitter’s birth date was established as 1764, and copious information about his life and family brought to light, leading to a draft biography for Art UK. The painting's date was amended to c.1795-1800. The artist could not be identified.

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.


P.S: rector (not vicar) of Bowers Gifford.

This enquiry follows up a lot of prior digging around, the genealogical element largely by Osmund Bullock (to whom I am most grateful), to help me clarify the sitter's date of birth for reasons unrelated to Art UK.

Thirlwall was subject of an informative obituary in the 'Gentleman's Magazine' (reprinted in the 'Annual Biography and Obituary') but one that lacks it and also misleads in other ways. The attached 'life' is still open to minor adjustments but sorts out the main misdirections.

Osmund's discoveries notably include that the sitter's more famous son Bishop 'Newell' Connop Thirlwall (d.1875) was not baptised Newell at all: the name seems to have become wrongly attached to him only 'post-mortem' and broadly accepted due to confusions that ensnared the original compilers of DNB as well as the 'Gents Mag'.

My own shot at the portrait date would be around 1810 but someone better at dress may be able to improve on that: the current collection record's c.1780 is certainly adrift. It was presented in 1952 by a 'firm' not an individual: if solicitors that might indicate as from a family source, but if there is any paperwork it is unlikely to identify artist since the collection record (though only audit level) looks thorough.

I'm not hopeful we can suggest an artist but if one doesn't ask....

1 attachment
Jacinto Regalado,

I think the hair or wig is probably earlier than 1810, but Lou Taylor should address the matter of dress and hair as to date.

Jacinto Regalado,

The artist is obviously not a front-rank portraitist and the picture looks like provincial work.

Christopher Foley,

Pieter, As you surmise, the style of the portrait looks too generic to hold out much hope of an attribution on stylistic grounds. You are correct that the suggested dating of c.1780 is clearly wrong - it must be a couple of decades later from the apparent age of the sitter, assuming the sitter is correctly identified. Have you checked the extensive correspondence which is held at the Bodleian of his brilliant but cantankerous son Bishop Connop Thirwall (1797-1875) ?

Messrs Livingstone, Wood & Clark, the donors of the portrait, were indeed solicitors as an internet search confirms. I do not find the c.1780 date a silly suggestion while acknowledging that male costume can be conservative and so misleading to date. We should at least ask whether the portrait really is the Rev. Thomas Thirlwall of Bowers Gifford (1764–1827). The portrait is by a minor hand whose identity I fear will be elusive.

Osmund Bullock,

I have indeed been ploughing through Connop Thirlwall's correspondence, Christopher, and also that of Henry Percy, Bishop of Dromore with whom there is an earlier connection - Thirlwall seems to have been some sort of curate to Percy, though exactly when is uncertain; and certainly Percy assisted Thirlwall with research for a biography he was preparing c.1807 (though it was never published). In fact it's possible (though as yet unproven) that Percy was related to Thirlwall. This and much else I am in the process of collating for Pieter, some of which will require changes and additions to the biography he has attached.

I believe, on balance, the date is likely to be c.1800-10; the clothing looks to me typical of low-church (and indeed non-conformist) ministers of the early C19th, but a more expert view would as ever be most welcome. The slightly misleading grey wig may in fact have been his own hair - but it is worth noting that higher-church Anglican clerics clung to their wigs (albeit usually of a different, more formal type) for a good while after they had passed out of fashion in the wider populace. In truth I wouldn't rule out dates both before and after the 1800-10 span, but the sitter's apparent age suggests later is less likely.

One other, perhaps very significant pointer to date which I am only just beginning to explore is the ring that Thirlwall is displaying. I believe this is a mourning ring, and its prominence suggests the recent death of someone important to him. His wife Susanna outlived him; his father John had died in 1776 which is too early, his mother Elizabeth in 1819, probably too late, his brother Liddel in 1823, even more so. Other siblings did not go until much later...except possibly his youngest sister Ann, who in 1793 had married William Hopps in London - I'm still trying to find her death. But one other possibility, I now realize, is his infant third son Richard, who died in 1796 - that of course takes us a fair bit earlier...but maybe rightly so?

I have also figured out the probable pathway by which the portrait came to be presented to the NLW by a firm of Worcestershire solicitors (, but that will have to wait as I can't find my notes at the moment!

Jacinto Regalado,

I expect 1796 is closer to the mark than 1810, Osmund, but let us see what Lou Taylor has to say.

As we now know Osmund, in 1796 Thirlwall would have been 32, which is at least more likely than the 16 he was in 'c.1780' and he could of course have worn a mourning ring for his deceased infants on both longer in terms if habit or especially for his portrait, since they could just be worn on suitable occasions (and having one painted is certainly that). The books under his right elbow are conventional attributes in a clerical or scholarly portrait but the fact there are two rather than just one obvious Bible, suggests it may have ben done when he was into his various 'editions' which is after 1800.

I would be surprised if it wasn't Thirlwall. It's a modest portrait in itself as regards maker, its too early to be his eldest son the Revd Thomas W., the figure is too young to be his fictionally reverend father 'Thomas' (i.e the Revd Stephen Thurlwell, 1751-1808) and he's not someone there was any reason for someone later to pretend him to be.

Like the elderly and infirm Admiral Clark Gayton (cf. his portrait by Copley), this has become skirmish in which 'I cannot stand by you, but will sit and watch you fight as long as you please' and of course adjust the 'potted bio' as necessary when that becomes clear.

Osmund Bullock,

Thomas Thirlwall's elusive final sister, Ann Hopps, is found: she was buried at Brighton on 16 Sep 1835, her husband William following her four months later - and it is definitely her, not a namesake. So the deaths of none of Thomas's five siblings can be relevant, as only one died in his lifetime, his elder brother Liddle* (1761-1823). [*the spelling he used, although actually christened Liddel.]

I can't find any definitive statements about how long mourning rings were worn for, or if they were likely to be brought out again later on special occasions. But my feeling is still (pace Pieter) that the prominence given to it in his pose means it was recent. And the three books - two leaning on the shelf and one on the table - don't particularly suggest to me a set that he was responsible for: would he be leaning his elbow on the foreground one like that if it were significant, and would the spine and title not be showing? I do think they are just the generic attributes of scholarship. Nevertheless, could we see a higher-res close-up of the background book spine(s) just in case..and also, please, one of the ring/hand? It's odd-looking even for a mourning ring, and I've read in several places that the normal convention where the commemorated person was unmarried was white enamel, not black...but perhaps it was different for an infant (Richard was only 4 months old when he died in Feb 1796).

On reflection I am moving towards the end of the C18th on costume grounds as well - I had failed to notice the lacey jabot / shirt front, which I think must push things back a bit.

I've found my missing notes, and will write up the probable link between the Thirlwall family and Messrs Wood, Livingstone & Clark later today.

My comment on occasional use of mourning rings is based on a line in a letter from Dr Joseph Denman - an able and respected Derbyshire physician - to his nephew Thomas Denman Ledward, two months before the latter was recruited by William Bligh as (unofficial) surgeon's mate of the 'Bounty' in December 1787. Ledward's elder brother John - whom he had rarely seen because John was raised largely in Joseph's care while he had been in that of his other uncle, Dr Thomas Denman in London - died unexpectedly (probably at Buxton) in October/ November 1784.

In October 1787, just before Ledward took up his first and very brief posting (only a few weeks) as surgeon's mate in the frigate 'Nymph' at Portsmouth, Joseph wrote him an admirable letter of advice in which a concluding line reads: 'There is a Mourning Ring for your Brother, which I will take care to transmit to you [at] the first opportunity; and which I would wish you to wear always on proper occasions.' I interpret that as 'consistently, when the circumstances are appropriate': this was three years after John died and there is no reason to think Dr Denman's request did not reflect frequent if not universal practice.

Whether Ledward ever got it is unknown, though appreciative: 'I should be very happy to have a mourning ring of my Brother’s; for the love I bore him and the loss I have experienced by his death, will ever be fresh in my remembrance. ' He survived the 'Bounty' saga only to drown when the Dutch ship in which he left Batavia (Jakarta) for home in 1789 vanished with all hands in the Indian Ocean. I published the letters in a piece on Ledward in the 'Mariners Mirror' (vol 104, no. 4) in 2018.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

About the clothes in this portrait which you can see more clearly if the shadows are lightened. This shows that this man is in extremely plain and not fashionable clothes- a woollen suit, with largish collar and revers, long cuffs, matching waistcoat, very plain cravat, plain powdered wig with (unseen) queue. It could be he has a mourning ring on the pinky of his left hand- these were given away/bequeathed within well-off families.
I would date this to c 1790...outside dates would be 1785 to 1795. (I include Joseph Wright of Derby's portrait of Sir Brook Boothby by 1781 which has the same style of collar and revers However he was a very fashionable member of young London intellectual society- and is very fashionable here in his English country style tailored suit.) I also include a portrait by Tilly Kettle (died 1786) of "A gentleman with a lurcher,' dated by Daniel Hunt Fine Art to 1785. By 1795, the clothes in the portrait we are looking at would be old fashioned, as the cut of the front of coats had altered by then, if one was fashionable.
I hope my images will help here.

Thanks for that judgement Lou. Allowing Thirlwall perhaps not being fashionable (he otherwise seems to have been a moralising Anglican puritan) and that his infant third son died in 1796 (when he was 32) to justify the ring thereafter, would you agree that c. 1797 as a reasonable earliest estimate? The features don't contradict an age of about 33 or not much older if we accept before 1800.

Louis Musgrove,

Just a general observation about dating. At this time a Curate was always very poor, a Vicar was a slightly better off employed substitute, but a Rector had the Living. So I would suggest this portrait be 1814 when Thirwall would have had a big boost in his money,and something to commemorate.
When I first looked at this portrait I thought it was a man about 50 years old. Two days later I still think so-which again would give 1814.
BTW. Could the Mourning ring be made of Hair,? which would account for it's slightly odd appearance.

While that's a fair general observation on curates etc., I doubt it applies in Thirlwall's case. He seems to have been one of a family with good business sense and himself a self-promoter in his own line as able 'Lecturer' of St Dunstan's - which at that time was a specific church role paid by parish contributions - as well as a preacher elsewhere (and publisher of his own sermons and other pamphlets). His marriage in 1792 was also to a widow of 'good fortune' which probably helped. That does not mean he was rich but - given that Lou Taylor has already said the cut of his coat would be getting out of fashion by 1795 - I don't think the general poverty of curates is an argument for saying he would only have been able to afford this (fairly modest) portrait from 1814. If his ring is a mourning one - and perhaps most unusual in that it looks facetted and probably octagonal externally- I think one has to accept that the visual evidence favours between 1797, i.e after his infant third son died in 1796, and 1800. If he was impervious to fashion and always wore the ring, it might be later, but it's not what the image appears to be telling us.

Jacinto Regalado,

Being unconcerned about fashion is not the same as being conspicuously out of it, which would attract notice and not of the most favorable kind. Thirlwall was not a recluse but a kind of public figure who had to face an audience, albeit a local one. That alone would seem to preclude being too eccentric in appearance.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

I honestly do not think that this portrait is as late as 1814 and I would even say that 1797 seems a bit late. And I agree exactly with Jacinto's comments.

In that case it hangs on the ring being for mourning, and who for: if its his son's death in 1796 then c.1796/7 it is, but it has to remain an opinion not a fact. I also agree he is likely to have been conventional , including to being painted in the best and most up-to-date dress that he had. But have the clergy ever been rapidly dedicated followers of fashion? I doubt anyone in a 'uniform' (except possibly private army regiments of Thelwall's day) ever has: changes in naval uniform, for example, were usually 'catch-up' exercises on civilian style.

The collection has at least now heard the arguments and can make up its own mind when this concludes.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

I hate to seem picky, but the jacket the young Constable is wearing is NOT 'the exact same' as the one in this portrait. Firstly, the stand on Constable's collar stands much higher - as indeed was the high fashion from c 1795- 1800. Secondly this image does not show the front of his jacket which was very probably the cut away style- see my 3 contrasting examples...... a plain frock coat (again) of the 1790s from the Fashion Museum, Bath, a fashionable frock coat with the cut away centre front c 1790 V and A and a fashion plate from 1810 Ackermann's Repository, April Plate 26.(Costume Institute)

Thanks to both for that very informative digression: it's useful to have the 'picky' details pointed out. Even if we get no further in artist, it suggests a minor London hand in the late 1790s.

Louis Musgrove,

It would appear that our sitter was a bit of a celebrity.In his week day job he was a Magistrate,but more,he was the chair of the Board of Magistrates for Middlesex and Essex.So I suppose he might have been some sort of lawyer as well ???.Anyway he wrote a book,/pamphlet criticising the Police Committee of the Houses of Parliament.After a bit of tooing and froing the Commons had a debate on the matter and found him guilty of High Contempt of Parliament and summoned him to appear at the Bar of the House of Commons in May 1817.He duly did so and was very appologetic. The Speaker suggested that Thirlwell's contrition was such that no further action should be taken,and this was ascented to by Vote by the Commons.
So I suggest this is a portrait of Thirlwell ,not in Clerical dress,but as a Lawyer/Magistrate with his Law books.This could explain why this portrait was the gift of a firm of solicitors. Possibly???
As to the painter,Thirlwell did apparently have money, so I suppose it would be someone quite good. Just to promote a speculative Suffolkey long shot- the style of this painting does remind me a bit of the early portraits of John Constable ???????
So if not by him,:-( ,the style of the early 1800's-- Yes/No.?

Louis, If you look at the 'potted life' I attached at the top this is largely covered though I hadn't spotted his chairmanship of the Board of Magistrates for Middlesex and Essex: could you add date he became so and source?

He first became a Middlesex magistrate in 1811 -so late in his London life - and one in Essex after moving there in 1814 but as we have seen, without documentary evidence to the contrary the portrait itself only supports a pre-1800 dating.

Did you see the Constable Portraits exhibition at the NPG some years ago? This portrait does not relate to his work.

I'm hesitant about espousing the idea that this is by a minor London hand. "Minor" yes, but why London?

Well, probably 'London' because that was his known association at the time. He was curate of St Dunstan's, Stepney, 1790-1814 and appears to have lived in Mile End. Both were fairly respectable, at least north of 'sailortown' along Ratcliffe Highway and thence down to the river, and he was a fairly prominent spokesperson against the spread and entrenchments of 'vice' in the area. His pamphlets and sermons are fairly rare survivals and none (or the religious books he edited) are obviously noted as holding an engraving of him, but if one from this image turned up I would only be slightly surprised. If not London (or borders of) then I can't think where is more likely.

Louis Musgrove,

Peter-sorry if I repeated,but I cannot open those Docx files-so I had not read it.I had read all the thread posts. As to early Constable portraits and drawings,we have a "few" here in Ipswich,which I am a bit familiar with,and I really meant the style of the painting,hinting at an early 1800's date.Because of course Constable was in London from about 1799,and would have copied the latest style as he learned.( Just using a local boy as an example :-) )

Louis Musgrove,

Peter-Ah yes-- have now read it. I got the Chair of the Board from the actual Parliament records of proceedings.

Louis, if you can find the specific link/ place naming I'd be obliged since I haven't been able to -though have seen the online transcript of Hansard reporting the session.

More generally I'd like to finish off Thirlwall from a biographical viewpoint. There's already more than enough for general purposes, including some significant corrections for a couple of ODNB entries from Osmund's discoveries.

The one minor puzzle yet unsolved is the date and place of death of his son, the merchant John Pyefinch Thirlwall (b. 1794, Stepney). He was reported as living in Quebec in 1848: his elder son the Revd. Thomas James Thirlwall (b. Quebec 1828) married first at Chelsea to Agnes Wordsworth Lawrence in 1852 and second to a Maria Payne, daughter of Samuel, a Royal Navy captain (in Somerset as I recall) in 1862: the first marriage register entry calls his father John Pyefinch a 'Merchant' and the second a 'Gent', but in neither case 'deceased'.
An unreliable family tree source says John Pyefinch died in Bath in 1870 -which I can't find- or any other death record for him.

Bishop Connop Thirlwall also retired to Bath in 1874 where his brother John Pyefinch's younger son John, a barrister, reportedly cared for him and was his secretary to his death the following year.

The Revd Thomas James T. died as vicar of Nantmel, Radnorshire, in March 1900 and was presumably Church of Wales since not in the Anglican database.

Louis Musgrove,

Peter- I have just remembered-as I checked Hansard-and found the reference wasn't there- the reference to Thirlwall being Chairman of the Board of Magistrates for Middlesex and Essex -I found that in the Frontice piece of his book "A Vindication of Magistrates" which I accessed on my Kindle Tablet.Will have to search for link on the main internet.
Appologies for Senior Moments. :-)

Osmund Bullock,

Louis, I hope you will not take it amiss if I point out that Pieter van der Merwe's first name has an 'i' in it, PIETER, not Peter; you misspell it every time.

'I am sure the omission was not intended as a slight....' (vide Pooh-Bah, in 'The Mikado'). With a name like mine misspellingas are par for the course. A favourite story is how my father - by then long a senior medical consultant - once answered a bureaucrat of his own regional hospital board who mangled it beyond belief in addressing him by letter, and signed with an indecipherably careless scrawl. His name happened to be 'Biggar', so I leave to your imagine how my father began as 'Dear Mr B.....r' adding at the end 'I do hope I have your name right but we were unable to read your signature'.

I'll see if I can access 'A Vindication...'

The title page of 'A Vindication' just says Rector of Bowers Gifford and 'Magistrate for the Counties of Middlesex and Essex', not 'Chairman'

Can we aim to wrap this up by the end of the month as suggested in my note of 10.3. 21 above? If there's going to be no further headway on the portrait - which Lou's advice seems to put about 1796 at earliest if we accept he is wearing a mourning ring - then there's no point in leaving it open. I can post a final version on Thirlwall then, mainly for the collection's use: as Marion has elsewhere remarked 'there's always more to add on people' but the question here was to clarify the likely date of the image and (less optimistically) any thoughts on artist.

Osmund Bullock,

Re the mourning ring (if it is one), these were, as Lou says, “given away/bequeathed within well-off families”. Commonly this was in the form of sums of money left to individuals for their purchase; in other Wills it is less clear-cut, but they are probably understood to be part of the sum left to cover the funeral and mourning. But as the very interesting details re one related by Pieter show, their purpose was normally to remember someone that one knew and loved/respected. I’ve not been able to find any references to mourning rings being worn in remembrance of a dead infant – bear in mind how extremely common infant deaths were in this period – and I now suspect I was wrong to suggest it might relate to Thomas Thirlwall’s four months-old son Richard. I am not saying it didn’t ever happen, and it’s possible that the unusual form of this one indicates a personal and informal decision by Thomas to wear one himself. (I have also recently bought for a friend an 1860s mourning brooch worn by an ancestress of his for her son who died aged nine months.) But I believe it is more likely that it relates to the death of an adult.

I was again probably wrong to look only at the immediate family for a candidate, as such rings were routinely worn by more distant relations (and indeed just friends); but there is in fact one real possibility within the fairly close family circle. The Rev Thomas Thirlwall’s wife had an unmarried, slightly older (b. 1746) first cousin and namesake, Susanna Connop, who died at Mile End early in Oct 1795. She was a witness at Thomas & Susannah’s wedding in 1792, godmother to their eldest child Thomas (Wigzell) Thirlwall, and probably lived with them in Mile End Old Town. She dictated her deathbed Will to the Rev Thomas a few days before her death, and he was the active executor (of three), handling the probate complications due to a lot of amendments made to the Will.

She was not very wealthy (effects <£300 value), and left mainly smallish bequests, her godson Thomas and two other cousins receiving the largest sums of £50 each. She also left £50 specifically “for the expences [sic] of my funeral & Mourning”. It’s very hard to quantify the equivalent of that £50 today; but by one measure I favour (its relationship to average incomes), this represents a sum of around £70,000 to us - more than enough, I think, to cover the purchase of rings amongst other related costs...not that it makes a significant difference to the portrait's putative date, I've just realized, as Susanna's death was only four months before that of Thomas's son Richard!?!

I have a couple more posts of substance to offer yet, and am in the process of writing them now. Part of the delay has been waiting for a group of five later family Wills I'd ordered to see if the portrait was mentioned - unfortunately it isn't, but I'm nevertheless now certain how the Worcester solicitors came to be in possession of it.

Thanks Osmund: I'll adjust the sitter bio summary when I see the rest.
Perhaps it is more likely that the ring (if for mourning) relates to the death of the cousin (in-law) Susanna Connop (1746-95) but if so, it still points to 'late 1790s' as the picture date rather than c. 1780. My further search for a documented death date for John Pyefinch Thirlwall (b. 1794) - either before or after 1862 - has got nowhere.

Osmund Bullock,

The portrait was presented to the NLW in 1952 by the Worcester solicitors Livingstone, Wood and Clark (otherwise Wood, Livingstone & Clark, as listed in local tel. directories 1949-55). It seems almost certain that the actual donor / previous owner was Evelyn Maud Thirlwall of Droitwich, widow of Edmund Schmitz Thirlwall of Droitwich (1868-1945). Evelyn had died in November 1951, and Probate was granted in July '52: her probate documents are annotated “extracted by Livingstone Wood & Clark Solrs Worcester”, so they were clearly involved in dealing with her affairs (though not actual executors). She and Edmund had no children, and her own property was left to her sisters and two friends – there is no mention of the portrait in her Will.

Edmund was a retired farmer, and was the great-grandson of the sitter – he was the youngest son of the Rev Thomas James Thirlwall of Nantmel, Radnorshire (1827-1900), who in turn was the elder of the two sons of John Pyefinch Thirlwall, both born in Quebec. In the 1850s Thomas James lived with his uncle Connop Thirlwall, Bishop of St David’s, and he and his brother were the bishop’s executors and heirs. The younger brother, John (1829-1877), a barrister, had been secretary to his uncle Connop in the 1850s/60s, but moved to the U.S. and died in Minnesota in 1877. Edmund had two elder half-brothers, Lawrence Connop Thirlwall who moved to Australia where he died in 1944, and Francis Hugh T who died at Canterbury in 1923.

I have now seen the Wills of all of these except John Pyefinch T, and unfortunately no portrait is mentioned in any of them. But it’s clear to me it must have descended from either John Pyefinch or his younger brother Bishop Connop to Edmund, and thence to his widow Evelyn.

This is not a 'maritime subject' so not for me to close, but I would be very happy to see a recommendation to that effect. Having asked the original question about who might have painted it and at what more likely date than the current 'c.1780' in the collection record, I am not surprised the artist remains unidentifiable 'British school' and content that - partly based on dress and partly on the probability (or at least possibility) that the sitter is wearing a mourning ring - it is likely to be c. 1796 and before 1800.

Just in case anything further is added I will hold off posting a final 'summary biography' of the sitter until there is a firm recommendation to close: the current draft has already gone to ODNB, with other supporting notes kindly supplied by Osmund, so they can adjust things related to 'lives', but not to the picture.

This discussion, "Is the artist identifiable and can this portrait be dated better than c.1780?" has attracted 40 responses since launched by Pieter on 23 February this year. It concerns a portrait in the National Library of Wales, from the provenance probably correctly identified as Rev. Thomas Thirlwall of Bowers Gifford (1764–1827).

Copious information on the sitter has been brought to light, thanks to Pieter and Osmund. Pieter now suggests closing this discussion and I support this as one of the group leaders, subject to any comment by the other group leaders and of course the collection.

On the first question the artist does not appear to be identifiable but would appear to be a minor London hand.

On the second question, the portrait would appear to date to the 1790s on costume grounds. There is some discussion about how far the ring helps in dating the portrait. Further, it is acknowledged that male costume could be conservative, meaning that there is some uncertainty in the dating.

Osmund Bullock,

Pieter, I have a lot of further information on the Thirlwalls, as you know, and that now includes (just found) the death year you wanted for John Pyefinch T, along with much else about him and his family. None of it, however, directly affects the conclusions about this portrait and its sitter (except inasmuch as it perhaps illuminate the family's previous social status), and I am content to let the discussion close. I will send you what I have direct (as promised for months now, I know), and you can extract anything you want for your biog either before or after closure here.

EDIT: Actually I will, for posterity's sake, correct one small thing you wrote some weeks ago: there was no independent Anglican 'Church of Wales' until it was separated and disestablished in 1920 as 'the Church in [sic] Wales'. When Wales was legally absorbed into England in the C16th, the established church in Wales became part of the Church of England, and so it remained until a century ago. The reason the Revd Thomas James Thirlwall, vicar of Nantmel, is not in the Clergy Database ( is simply that they only cover the period up to 1835, and TJT was not ordained until 1851-52.

Thank you for the correction Osmund: I hadn't spotted the date limitation on the clergy database. If you can just supply a year and place date for the death of JPT that would fill the last missing detail necessary for summary on his father here.

Osmund Bullock,

Well, if that's all you want, OK: John Pyefinch Thirlwall was buried 22 Feb 1841 St George's, Kingstown, St Vincent.

But I have several other corrections / suggested minor additions & clarifications to what's in the last (Dr3) version of the biography you sent me: e.g. I now know from newly-found primary sources that the sequence/date of events re Canada & St V is slightly wrong, as is your summary of who was living at Ickleford Rectory in 1841; and I also have the exact dates of birth of his two sons (and a daughter) at Quebec. I've found, too, the month & year that his father Thomas (our sitter) was appointed domestic chaplain to Bishop Thos Percy (and incidentally likely joined him in Ireland), along with contemporary letters that confirm the bishop did indeed assist him with the Jeremy Taylor edition and/or biography accompanying it.

I suggest that we should now bring this discussion to a close as per my post of 26 May. Osmund has brilliantly supplied the missing details that Pieter requests for his summary, which can now be posted as the final step preceding closure.

I have taken in the 1841 death date of J. P. Thirlwall that Osmund has kindly supplied but if there are still inaccurate details in the Draft 3 biographical summary (which he has) it would be good to know what they are before posting a correct final version here.

I think the time has come to post your final version,Pieter, unless Osmund has imperative reasons for doing otherwise. Then we should move to closure.

Fine: long overdue although If Osmund can still correct the uncertainties indicated in the biographical sitter summary as it currently stands (attached) that would more accurately finalise those details as far as reliability is concerned - if only for the collection record.

This one was a case of 'it just growed': my initial interest in the man was just to have his dates and know who he was in relation to his anti-theatrical activities around 1800.

If you disagree with my view that the portrait is probably 1795/6 at earliest and probably no later than 1800, then I'll take that in.

I am happy with you very full summary, Pieter, and with the suggestion that the date of this portrait should be amended to c. 1795-1800. We have not identified the artist.

Many thanks to Pieter, Osmund and all others who have contributed.

On this basis, I recommend that the discussion should be closed, subject to the collection and other group leaders.

Thanks Jacob: among other still desirable amends in the summary is, right at the end, the slip on portrait location: i.e in the Nation Library (not Museum) of Wales: apologies to them.