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Weston Worthies

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
Weston Worthies - 37 Capt George STONE
Weston Worthies - 38 Francis H SYNGE
Weston Worthies - 39 Henry WILLIAMS
Weston Worthies - 16 John HARRIS
Weston Worthies - 41 Simon PALMER - an extra Worthy
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Comments ..

Submitted by Jenny Towey on Mon, 24/05/2021 - 14:50
Another splendid Worthy, Pat - an intricate family.rnHistory is what makes us what we are today...and genetic genealogy is throwing up many surprises...
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Submitted by Jenny Towey on Sun, 06/06/2021 - 10:30
I note that the Hase family featured several times: experiencing the 'strong arm of the law'!!
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Submitted by Pat Hase on Sun, 06/06/2021 - 21:42
As long as they are in the past, brushes with the law always add colour to any family history!
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Submitted by Jenny Towey on Tue, 22/06/2021 - 14:44
Samuel Serle seems to have over-extended himself: perhaps a case of 'jack of all trades - master of none'?
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Submitted by Jenny Towey on Tue, 29/06/2021 - 12:05
(...'indifferent' character - how damning..!!...not the sort of reference one would wish for.)rnA great description of how Knightstone and Birnbeck developed...thanks, Pat, for another insight into the development of Weston-super-Mare.
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Submitted by Jenny Towey on Thu, 08/07/2021 - 11:07
...such a shame that his nephew did not take after this caring and thoughtful man...
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Submitted by Pat Hase on Thu, 08/07/2021 - 23:33
This one really put the spotlight on conditions in Ireland at that time and it really put some of the issues into context. You never know what you are going to discover as you research a family!
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Submitted by Jenny Towey on Sat, 17/07/2021 - 9:54
Researching a name like Williams is always tricky - especially when, like the family of Weston Worthy 39, they moved around so much. Another fascinating tale, thank you.
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Submitted by Jenny Towey on Wed, 11/08/2021 - 12:00
...it's such a pain researching ancestors with common surnames - especially for work such as this. Thankfully, DNA can now help to differentiate which John Smith married which Mary Jones...hope you receive some helpful suggestions...
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Submitted by jenniem on Thu, 07/10/2021 - 12:09
Hello, The marble bust of Francis Hutchinson SYNGE made by Charles Summers in 1849, which is mentioned in Weston Worthy 38. Francis H SYNGE. Does anybody know if it is still in existence, and if so, where?
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Submitted by Pat Hase on Fri, 08/10/2021 - 9:00

According to a booklet published for an exhibition of the life of Charles SUMMERS in Sept 1978 held in what was then called the Woodspring Museum (now Weston Museum) - there are only three busts in the Museum collection.

  • Joseph EDGAR, a Weston Solicitor
  • Edward SMYTH-PIGOTT, Examiner of Plays
  • John Hugh SMYTH-PIGOTT, Brockley & Weston.

Although the bust of Francis H SYNGE is mentioned in the booklet no location is listed. It was shown at the Royal Academy in 1849.

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Submitted by jenniem on Sun, 10/10/2021 - 0:51

Thanks for this useful information Pat. I have a newspaper cutting from 1861 that tells me the SYNGE bust was once in the Town Hall (assuming WSM town hall) opposite the bust of 'Admiral Blake'? It was presented to the town by Mrs SYNGE. As the painting of SYNGE from this time ended up in the Axbrigde Town Hall, I was hoping the bust too may still survive and be in a local hall. (or church) I am looking for some local knowledge on what may have happened to it or a contact to help explore further. Thanks for any help.


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