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Jenkyns Collection 7-19: Vernon Papers

Jenkyns II

Robert Vernon (ca 1774-1849, ODNB), was a jobmaster, art patron, collector, and public benefactor. ”Social climber” would probably be accurate, if unkind. His Papers are a discrete Sub-Collection within the Jenkyns Papers, present there because John Jenkyns (1786-1862) was appointed an Executor in Vernon’s PCC Will. No other connection with the Jenkyns family is obvious, although John Jenkyns was more than a mere lawyer for Robert Vernon, who described all his Executors as “my friends “ in his Will.

Robert Vernon (hereafter Vernon unless there is ambiguity) amassed a fortune, partly by continuing in his father’s London horse trade, and partly by astute investment. He used it to acquire artworks, many of which he gave to the Nation. The majority of his surviving public gifts are in the Tate Gallery. In 1993 the Tate published Robin Hamlyn’s Robert Vernon’s Gift, British Art for the Nation, which catalogues an exhibition of Vernon gifts held in the Tate, provides a checklist of the entire gift, with a detailed erudite essay on the man and his works. A copy of this was placed with the Vernon material when it was revisited in 2012. The previous description (John Jones,The Jenkyns Papers. A Guide, 1988) was superficial for this part of the Jenkyns Papers.

See also Kathryn Moore Heleniak, “Victorian Collections and British Nationalism, Vernon, Sheepshanks and the National Gallery of British Art”, J. History of Collections, 2000, 12, 91-107.

Vernon is said in the ODNB to have died unmarried, which is technically correct but misleading: he had briefly had a wife Harriet Vernon, from whom he was by agreement separated, who left a PCC will in 1813 (he married Harriet Hudson at St Dunstan’s in the West 24 January 1811). No children are known.

“Jobmaster” in the usage of the late 18th and early 19th century = a man who rents out horses and gear (sometimes grooms and drivers also). In central London this was very big business, on which wealthy households depended.

All the letters listed below are ALS to Vernon unless otherwise stated.

Jenkyns II.1a. Vernon’s Register of Purchases and Commissions.

Notebook 12 x 18 cm, bound dark maroon leatherette with a brass clasp closure, spine broken, containing autograph entries by the artists themselves re commissions and purchases by Vernon, naming the pictures concerned, when and where painted, circumstances (sometimes at length ), when and where exhibited etc. The entries span 1827-1847. The artists making entries are: Martin Arthur Shee RA (2), Robert Smirke RA(4), JMW Turner RA (3), Henry Howard RA, David Maclise (2),Thomas Phillips RA, CR Leslie RA, William Macready (2), John Chaton, CL Eastlake RA, SA Hart, William Collins RA (2), HW Pickersgill RA, Alfred Chaton, George Clint RA, WH Hilton RA, James Ward RA (2), William Etty RA (17), George Jones RA (8), Charles Landseer RA, George Lance (2), Edwin Landseer RA (7), David Roberts RA (2), Fred R Lee RA (4), and John Constable RA (entry for him by CR Leslie).

The earliest entries giving dates are for 1827. George Jones painted Tower House, Place and Buildings in Utrecht for Vernon in that year, and Vernon purchased The Battle of Borodino (painted for the Hon Edward Petre) at Christies in 1827.

Jenkyns II.1b. Vernon’s Purchase and Conservation Receipts.

Receipts or advice notes from the following:

  • Unidentified, receipt to Vernon for £26.0s.0d for a bronze figure of a boy. 13 May 1842.
  • Peter De Wint, receipt for £26.4s.0d, 1841, for three studies of heads for the picture of Harold by the late William Hilton RA.
  • F Goodall, autograph receipt to Mr Williamson, Porter of the RA, for 100 Guineas for his picture Tired Soldier resting at a Roadside Well, for Vernon, nd.
  • Christies receipts to Vernon for (a) Lots 67 & 68 of 22 March 1839 with Lot 32 of 30 March 1839 (£446.5s.0d); and (b) Lots 81 and 84 of 8 April 1840 (£82.10s.0d).
  • Gallery of Painters in Watercolours, 53 Pall Mall, receipt to Vernon for £90.6s.0d for two watercolours, April 1839.
  • Joseph Hall for Hall’s Marble Works Derby, receipts to Vernon (a) 10 December 1842 given at 149 Strand, £16.0s.0d for two fluorspar vases; and (b) 25 June 1843, £8.0s.0d for a “Derbyshire amethistine Fluor spar Tazzer”.
  • William Barnard, Keeper, for the British Institution, receipts to Vernon for (a)The Stile by T Creswick and Female Head (£84.0s.0d, 8 May 1839); and (b) Don Quixote by J Phillip (£26.5s.0d, 1840).
  • John Sequier for Messrs Sequier, detailed invoices to Vernon for work 1838-9 (with receipt, £32.8s.0d), 1841-2(£12.9s.6d,no receipt), and 1843(£15.12s.6d,with receipt) for cleaning and lining work on numerous pictures including works by Gainsborough, Lely, Landseer and Constable.

Jenkyns II.1c. Letters re the National Gallery 1847.

  • CL Eastlake to Vernon Heath at Robert Vernon’s Ardington House Wantage, from 7 Fitzroy Square, 2 August 1847.
  • G Saunders Thwaites from the National Gallery, 6 August 1847.
  • CL Eastlake from 7 Fitzroy Square, 11, 18, and 25 August 1847.
  • Lord Thomas Monteagle from Brook Street 17 August 1847. With its envelope signed by Monteagle. The envelope has an oval pink prepaid one penny stamp printed on it, cancelled with a 15 in a lozenge; handstamps on the back show it was received at and forwarded from Wantage on 18 August.
  • Robert Peel, from Drayton Manor, 19 August 1847, with its envelope (two adhesive stamps lost) addressed and signed by Peel. Probably forwarded from Ardington House.

Jenkyns II.1d. Letters from Edwin Landseer RA .

1. 18 February [?] 1841, from 65 Regency Square Brighton. Says he will soon be back at his easel working on a picture which his brother has begun an etching of.

2. 23 March 1842. Mentions the Queen’s commands and The Lady and Spaniels.

3. 13 February 1843.”Their Majestys have occupied me so constantly lately that I have not been able to complete my part of your Picture - tho’ in reality it requires so little now that Mrs Norton has done her part so well, a very pretty little poem - very nicely written in paint on the paper our young Lady holds in her hands ....”.

4. 20 May 1843. Mentions his visit to Vernon’s house with Prince Albert, “who speaks of your Collection of Pictures in the most flattering terms “.

5. 23 July 1843, from St Johns Wood. He has been unwell and delayed with Vernon’s picture.

6. 30 July 1843. Similar to the above.

7. 8 February [?] 1845, from 338 Oxford Street London. Says he has been “for the last three weeks occupied on your Lady and Spaniels”; he is not quite satisfied with it yet, and has painted another with the same title for the Exhibition which is now there; he hopes to make his first treatment of the subject his best work.

8. 4 July 1845. He is just off to the Palace to see the Prince.

9. 19 July 1845. Begins in the neat hand of an amanuensis, but is otherwise ALS. Mentions Prince Albert and a walking stick.

10. 19 October 1845, from “The Doune Lynwely”. “The unfortunate Picture so long in hand of the Lady and Spaniels ” had been seen by the King of the Belgians who wanted it; the Queen had heard this and wanted a copy made for his birthday; but in the meantime Landseer had “in a passion rubbed out the figure entirely”; this had been explained to the Queen who “hopes Mr Vernon will allow me to finish it for her “; if Vernon agrees, Landseer will reimburse him the £150 he has been paid; mention is made of “the Second Picture in which the celebrated stick is to appear”.

11. 15 November 1845, from St John’s Wood. Sends the Queen’s thanks.
12. Sunday 29th, otherwise nd. The Duke of Sutherland and party would like to visit Vernon’s house to see his pictures.

13. Monday, otherwise nd. “I have not forgotten the completion of your Lady and Spaniels”; the Prince would like to see the Collection, but not until after the Queen’s confinement which is expected very soon.

14. Thursday otherwise nd ( but with an envelope initialled by TL with red received date handstamp AP 8 1842), note by Thomas Landseer from Cunningham Place St Johns Wood Road on behalf of his brother Edwin re “Mr Vernon’s Lady & Spaniels”.

15. From 1 St John’s Wood nd. Dinner acceptance.

16. Formal note from Mr Cockerill, commanded by the Prince (in the absence of Mr Anson) from Osborne House, to Mr Landseer, 9 December 1846: HRH is happy to accept Vernon’s offer of “a lot of Greyhounds” which should be sent to the Kennel at Windsor.

17. Incomplete note of thanks from W Castle to E Landseer, November 14, otherwise nd.

18. Envelopes addressed in E Landseer’s hand to Vernon, at 50 Pall Mall except one, all bearing Landseer’s monogram initials (the L finishing with a great flourish which encircles both E and L), or signature bottom left.

a. No stamp, monogram, Landseer’s seal in red wax (circular, diameter 9mm , showing a capital L with flourishes) intact.

b. Hand stamp PAID only, signature, Landseer’s seal intact, red received handstamp FE14 1843.

c-d. No stamp ,signed.

e. Black edged envelope, monogram, cancelled penny black stamp, posted Brighton 18 February 1841, red received handstamp 19FE 1841.

f. Penny red stamp, Maltese cross cancellation, red received handstamp MR 23 1843.

g. Penny red stamp cancelled heavily with a 3 in a lozenze to Vernon at Ardington House “To be forwarded”, black circular handstamp Wantage JY 1845.

Jenkyns II.1e. Letters from other Artists.

  • Sir William Allan RA, from Suffolk Place, 28 April otherwise nd. Declining dinner as he will be in the country.
  • Mr Barry, probably Charles Barry RA, from Westminster, 20 April 1843. Acceptance for 3 May, and Sir MA Shee will introduce them at the Academy Exhibition private view.
  • AW Calcott RA, black edged paper, 17 April 1843. Declining dinner as he is unwell.
  • CL Eastlake RA, from 13 Upper Fitzroy Street, 18 April 1843. Accepting for dinner 3 May.
  • CL Eastlake RA, from 7 Fitzroy Square, 14 May 1845, with two letters from FG Moon (20 Threadneedle Street, print publisher, later Baronet and Lord Mayor of London), May 9 and 13 1845, and Vernon’s copy or draft of his letter to Eastlake of 12 May 1843.
  • William Etty RA, from 14 Buckingham Street Strand, Friday 6 May otherwise nd. Etty had received £100 from Vernon for “The Warrior Arming now at Christies”; is grateful that Vernon has sent only one of his many pictures by him for sale; hopes to keep his prices up.
  • Phillip Hardwick RA, from Russell Square, 20 April 1843. Accepting for dinner 5 May.
  • Henry Howard RA, from Newman Street, 18 April 1843. Accepting for dinner 3 May.
  • George Jones RA, 15th otherwise nd, but 1845. He has just come from the Gallery; gives advice re possible purchase of pictures by Linnel; and describes “the portraits of your dogs” with a sketch. The sketch identifies the latter as E Landseer’s King Charles Spaniels, first exhibited 1845: see Hamlyn op. cit. p52.
  • George Jones RA, from the Royal Academy, 29 April 1847, putting forward “Knight” as underrepresented in Vernon’s collection, defending attacks on his impartiality ,and saying he will be passing the vacation at his friend Mr Carrick Moore’s, Chomleys, Long Ditton Surrey.
  • George Jones RA, Tuesday night otherwise nd but May 1843, re Vernon fitting in the Chalons on Wednesday because they cannot come on Friday.
  • George Lance RA, black edged paper, from 36 Hart Street Bloomsbury, 3 Sept 1844. He agrees that Mr Lee’s picture would be improved by the introduction of a gun, game-bag and powder flask; he is anxious to please his patron, but seeks reassurance that there is no delicacy with Mr Lee over altering the picture, although he would not mind the same being done to one of his own pictures.
  • Daniel Maclise RA, nd. Dinner acceptance.
  • Daniel Maclise RA, from 14 Russell Place, 1 Dec 1840. Thanks for draft of £100.
  • HW Pickersgill RA, from Soho Square, 18 April 1843. Dinner acceptance for 3 May.
  • EV Rippingille, from Hull(?), 1 December 1844. Thanks for Vernon’s generous assistance.
  • David Roberts RA, from 19 Brunswick Square Brighton, 22 April 1843. Dinner acceptance for 5 May.
  • Sir WC Ross RA, from 52 Charlotte Street, 18 April 1843. Dinner acceptance for 3 May.
  • C Stanfield RA, 19 April otherwise nd. Dinner acceptance for 5 May.
  • Martin Arthur Shee RA, from Cavendish Square, 21 June 1844. Thanks for buying “my little Bacchus”; the price mentioned to “our friend Jones” was 100 guineas, but Vernon had added to that.
  • JMW Turner RA, 10 February 1843. The picture is 250 guineas. Mr Foord (since dead, the business to be carried on by the son, whom Turner means to employ) charged 5 guineas for the frame.
  • JMW Turner RA, nd. Dinner acceptance for 3 May.
  • Thomas Unwins RA, 19 April 1843, from 41 Charlotte Street Fitzroy Square. Declining for 5 May as the Sketching Society he belongs to in conjunction with Messers Chalon and Stanfield meets that day and it is his turn to receive them.
  • Thomas Unwins RA , 22 May 1844, from the Athenaeum.Thanks for allowing his friends to see the collection; his own visit he said “gratified me beyond measure “; in France there is the Louvre in which the Government places the best pictures from current Exhibitions; Vernon’s ”liberality has supplied the deficiency in England “.
  • Richard Westmacott RA, from “The Hyde”, 21 April 1843. Dinner acceptance for 3 May. The writer could be either father or son of the name, both of whom were RA and sculptors.
  • Mr Wyon, from the Royal Mint, 19 April 1843. Dinner acceptance for 5 May. Probably William Wyon the engraver, but possibly his son LC Wyon, also an engraver at the Royal Mint and already established by 1843.

Jenkyns II.2a. Papers re the Estate of William Vernon.

The papers do not contain a copy of the will of Robert Vernon’s father William Vernon, which was proved in the PCC in 1801, but do contain valuations, receipts, and correspondence. William Vernon’s stock as hackneyman or jobmaster, including 130 horses, coaches, tackle, fodder etc was appraised at £3354.3s.0d, and in September 1802 there were also outstanding debts of £2547.7s.3d (over half however reckoned as bad or dubious, including £367.10s.0d owed by HRH the Prince of Wales).The principal beneficiary was Robert Vernon, who took on his father’s business, but he had to pay over £2000 pounds to the Executors and his brother Edward Vernon; he also had a brother William Richard Vernon who was a minor beneficiary. The Executors invited to act in the will were Bartholemew Arnott hackneyman of Old Bond Street, John Gooch of Ham Surrey farmer, and Caesar Picton Coal Merchant of Kingston, as well as Mary Vernon the widow.

The letters in the file, all ALS to Robert Vernon, are from the following:-

  • Bartholemew Arnott from Old Bond Street, 10 December 1801, apologising for declining to act as an Executor on grounds of age.
  • Edward Vernon, from Bakewell, 10 December 1801, enquiring after his father, who was probably already dead as his Will was proved on 22 December 1801.
  • Edward Vernon from Chatham Place Ramsgate, Tuesday otherwise nd 1802.
  • Caesar Picton, from Kingston-on-Thames, 8 letters 1801-1803. Picton was the most active Executor. He is a well-known figure, brought to England from Senegal as an enslaved small boy to be a fashionable black page, he died a very wealthy man in 1836. He was also sole Executor of the 1814 PCC Will of Mary Vernon of Earls Court ( buried by request Christ Church Southwark, aged 77 27 June 1814), who was therefore probably Robert Vernon’s mother.

Robert Vernon’s address was Black Horse Yard New Bond Street in 1801, but Mount Street by 1802; when Picton wrote on 26 September 1802, he addressed the letter “Mr Vernon at Mrs Vernon’s Prescott Street Windsor”.

Jenkyns II.2b. Undertakers’ invoices and receipts.

  • Richard Umney, undertaker of 100 Broad Street Ratcliff, invoice and receipt (£15.14s.6d) to Vernon, both dated 6 February 1844, re the funeral of Mr George Evitt. George Evitt aged 83 of Sidney Terrace was buried at Chelsea 4 May 1843. A George Evitt, her nephew, was mentioned in the 1814 PCC Will of Mary Vernon, who was probably Robert Vernon’s mother.
  • Richard Umney, undertaker of 100 Broad Street Ratcliff, invoice, with receipt (£14.3s.0d) dated 26 April 1839,to Vernon, re the funeral of Miss Harriet Vernon. She was buried 11 September 1838, of Camera Square Chelsea aged 35. PCC wills show she had a widowed mother Mary Vernon (buried Chelsea aged 79 23 February 1847) whose Will was proved in the PCC 1847.
  • James Harrison undertaker of Lincolns Inn Fields, invoice and receipt ( £5.15s.2d) to Mr Relf ,6 October 1841 re the funeral of Mrs Ann Scott .With Harrison’s engraved business card.

Jenkyns II.2c. Personal papers.

  • Receipts on printed forms dated 18 October 1842 and 20 January 1843 for subscriptions to the Art Union of London.
    Certificate 1734 dated 15 October 1822 from Guardian Fire and Life Assurance that that Vernon, then of Crouch End Halkin Street, owned five £100 shares.
  • Ticket of admission to the Pavilion Buckingham Palace Gardens valid 21-26 July 1845 signed GW Anson.
  • GW Anson from Osborne House 20 or 26 August 1846, conveying Prince Albert’s thanks for the walking stick which had belonged to King George IV. Anson was Prince Albert’s Private Secretary.
  • Thomson Hankey of 72 South Audley Street, two letters of July 1844 and one nd, enclosing an ALS from Lord Robert Grosvenor also dated only 28 July but presumably 1844 re gifts to “our Church“. Hankey and Grosvenor were Churchwardens of St Georges Hanover Square.
  • Lease for 14 years dated 17 December 1812,Thomas Smith Esq, Manor Terrace Chelsea to [Mrs] Elizabeth Vincent, Mount Street St Georges, of “12 Manor Place Chelsea being the second house Eastward from the Lord Nelson Public House now in the occupation of Jane Wilson or Charles Janns”. With an Agreement for tenancy dated 11 January 1826 (amended 21 May 1828) between Mrs Elizabeth Smith widow of 1 Manor Terrace Chelsea and Mrs Elizabeth Vincent of 1 Manor Place.

Jenkyns II.2d. Share Certificates, Welsh Iron and Coal Mining Company.

74 £25 share certificates (issued 10 February 1825 ) in the Welsh Iron and Coal Mining Company vested in the following names: 25 shares William Kershaw Esq Kings Arms Yard; 19 shares John Wilkes Esq New Broad St; 5 shares James Patton Esq Change Alley: 25 shares Nicholas Heald Esq Lower St Islington. Annotations suggest there should be 75 certificates. With a broker’s note showing that 25 of these shares were bought for Vernon on 2 March 1826.

Jenkyns II.3. Inventories.

I. A maroon leatherette gold tooled notebook; “Plate” on the front cover; 11 x 18.5cm; on the title page “R Vernon Esqr/ Inventory of Plate/ August 1833”. It contains a plate inventory compiled by R & S Garrard. Loosely inserted is a list of plate belonging to a Mrs Burke taken charge of by Vernon for her, signed by Vernon to that effect, June 23 1837.

2. A notebook 16 x 20cm with a limp blue cartridge paper cover. It contains an inventory and auctioneer’s account for a sale of furniture and effects on the premises of Mrs Vernon, Hall Gate Doncaster, starting on Monday 12 October 1812. W Sheardown, auctioneer.That this Mrs Vernon was related to Robert Vernon is clearly implied, but it seems very unlikely that she was his motheras has bee speculated .Dr Charles Kelham of Doncaster Archives has kindly investigated her and reported that she was liable for water and church rates on a property on Hall Gate West from 1796 to 1800 and appears (as Miss Vernon) in land tax assessments from 1798-1811 as the occupier of this property. Robert Vernon’s mother was definitely living in or near London 1801-1803 and died in the area in 1814.

3. Three inventories of plate in identical style on identical double foolscap folds in the same copperplate hand. No date or place or ownership is indicated.The only clues are two items on one list: “1 Antique Bowl and Cover from Lady Mansfield’s Collection “ and “4 gilt Branches with stands from Strawberry Hill”.

4. A foolscap booklet with an olive green cartridge paper cover from which several pages have been removed, containing apparently complete inventories of paintings and books, room by room. The paper is watermarked 1810, and of the easily identifiable books the latest publication date is 1805.
When complete this was probably a whole house inventory including furniture etc. There is no obvious clue to location or ownership. In the paintings section over 100 paintings are listed, three quarters of them portraits of 15th-18thcentury dates.The attributions include Holbein, Van Eyck, Janssen, Kneller, Rubens, and Veldasquez (sic). It has been suggested by Hamlyn (op.cit. p11), that this inventory is connected with inventory number 2 above, although there is nothing except nearness of date and presence together in the Vernon Papers to connect the two. Hamlyn also points out that several of the pictures in this inventory were sold by Vernon’s estate in 1877, and suggests that he had inherited them from his father William Vernon via his mother Mary Vernon. But this seems improbable because no artworks are mentioned in the will of William Vernon or his widow.

Jenkyns II.4a. Papers re Vernon’s dealings with the executors of Christopher Hall 1820-1821.

Christopher Hall was, inter alia, a jobmaster who died in 1820 (and left a PCC will); Vernon bought his business from his Executors Thomas Cutt and Richard Hemming. It was a substantial business based in Halkin Street comprising a house (No. 2), a Riding School, a Granary , a Counting House, stables for over 100 horses and over 300 horses out “on job”. The agreed purchase price was £30,819 of which just under £10000 was left on mortgage. The file includes valuations, receipts, letters from Thomas Cutt (of 22 Halfmoon Street) and arbitration papers re the value of the horses.
Jenkyns II.4b. Papers re Vernon’s dealings with his agents for domestic, investment, and business matters 1836-1844.
Vernon employed Stephen Garrard of 13 Suffolk St Pall Mall East and Samuel Guy Taylor of Lower Grosvenor Street. Garrard was a Solicitor. Of note among these papers are:-

  • Agreement for Taylor acting as agent for Vernon to let 43 Grosvenor Mews, then occupied by Mr Wingod, to Robert Absalom of 39 Grosvenor Mews, 23 April 1836.
  • Court Notice to Vernon from the Court for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors, dated 25 April 1837, re a hearing on 2 June re Samuel Guy Taylor, then in the Fleet Prison. Taylor is described as “formerly of Danes Street Berkeley Square, next of Welbeck Street Cavendish Square, next of North End Fulham, and late of Brompton Row Brompton, all such time having offices at 3 Lower Grosvenor Street Bond Street, all in Middlesex, Auctioneer House Agent Appraiser Surveyor and Undertaker”.

Jenkyns II.4c. Vernon’s invoices and receipts for domestic affairs and jobmaster dealings, mostly 1830-1849.

Two large bundles of about a Kilogramme each, in no order, somewhat soiled and sometimes scrappy; but these papers (probably over 2000 in number) have been carefully sifted for anything re Vernon’s family and art world activities. It is unlikely, but not wholly impossible given the nature of the material, that anything re the artworld or family remains. In earlier days the lot would probably have been dumped (thereby losing several interesting early Victorian London business notepaper headings).

- listed by JH Jones, 20 September 2012


- John Jones

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