Who were the Weston Worthies?
This series of 40 water-colour portraits of Weston-super-Mare residents of the mid-19th Century used to hang in the Railway Hotel in Weston. The artist is unknown, but on the reverse is the name of the sitter. In 1907 they were offered for sale as part of the estate of the late Mr W. H. BEEDLE.
The Weston-super-Mare Gazette, and General Advertiser of Saturday 11 May 1907 carried this article:
“The water colour portraits Weston Worthies were not sold. The origin the series is decidedly interesting. About fifty years ago Mr. Barker, of Bath, one of the well-known artist family, probably Thomas, was sojourning at Weston-super-Mare, and during his visit received commission from Old Squire Pigott," the great grandfather of the present Lord of the Manor of Weston, to produce for him portraits of the principal squatters" on his estate, and when completed each picture was endorsed by the original. When Mr. Smyth Pigott died the portraits passed into the possession the late Mr. Thomas Tutton Knyfton, who was then Lord the Manor of the adjoining parish of Uphill. When he, too, passed away, the pictures were again sold, and became the property of Mr. Beedle.”
There is some considerable doubt as to the statement that they were painted by one of the BARKER family who were accomplished artists, as the paintings are more naïve in character than their work. Even at that time, the Weston Free Libraries Committee was reported as discussing whether it would buy the paintings but turned them down. It is thought that for many years after that they hung in the Railway Hotel until they were given to the local museum.
The original paintings are now kept in Taunton in the South West Heritage Trust as part of the North Somerset Archives, but an overview of the collection can be seen in the Weston Museum described as “Weston Characters”.
Below you will find documents which contain profiles of each of the Worthies. They are arranged in alphabetical order of surname and each displays a different aspect of life in Weston-super-mare in around 1850.
There are documents relating to this place.
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Weston Worthies - 01 Samuel BAKER
Weston Worthies - 02 & 03 Thomas & Harriet BARRY
Weston Worthies - 04, 05 & 06 The BURGE Family
Weston Worthies - 07 George COOMBES
Weston Worthies - 08 Isaac COUNSELL
Weston Worthies - 09 James DARE
Weston Worthies - 10 Richard FRY
Weston Worthies - 11 Mary GIBBONS
Weston Worthies - 12 George GILL
Weston Worthies - 13 Mrs Hannah GOULD
Weston Worthies - 14 John GREGORY
Weston Worthies - 15 Cornelius HANCOCK
Weston Worthies - 17 Mrs Elizabeth HARRIS
Weston Worthies - 18 George HARSE
Weston Worthies - 20 Christopher KINGDON
Weston Worthies - 21 Mrs Jane KITCHEN
Weston Worthies - 22 John LIGHT
Weston Worthies - 23 & 24 Richard and Betty MUGGLEWORTH
Weston Worthies - 25 Frederick MARTILL
Weston Worthies - 26 John MAUNDER
Weston Worthies - 27 Sir William MILES bart M.P.
Weston Worthies - 28 Samuel NORVILL
Weston Worthies - 29 & 30 John PARSONS and Son
Weston Worthies - 31 Isaac PEARCE
Weston Worthies - 32 Charles PHILLIPS
Weston Worthies - 33 Rev Richard QUARRELL
Weston Worthies - 34 George READ
Weston Worthies - 35 Thomas ROGERS
Weston Worthies - 36 Samuel SERLE