Sunday, 15 October 2017

Who was Eliza Hall Part 2 - Jane Austen and Jamaica

In my blog post dated 25 October 2015 I shared my research into the identity of Eliza Hall who was an early owner of the Rice Portrait of Jane Austen. You can find that post HERE.

In that post I recount how, according to letters held in the Bodleian Library Oxford, Colonel Thomas Austen, Jane Austen's second cousin, gave the portrait of Jane Austen to a friend of his, Eliza Hall, the wife of Thomas Harding Newman.

I also explained how many Austen scholars have been mistaken in believing that Eliza Hall was from the family of Hugh Kirkpatrick Hall of Hollybush Hall in Staffordshire. 

In fact, Eliza Hall was the daughter of a younger brother of Hugh Kirkpatrick Hall, Thomas Hall, and his wife Elizabeth Humffreys. They lived, not in the Midlands, but in Egham, Surrey, not far from Windsor. It is not known when Elizabeth Humffreys died but it seems likely she died when Eliza was young, possibly in childbirth. 

Eliza Hall's aunt, Ann Humffries, was married to Sir Henry Hawley of Leybourne Grange for over 40 years. At the time Ann Humffries married Henry Hawley in 1785, his four children from his first marriage to Dorothy Ashwood were under the age of 10 and Jane Austen was 10 years old. 

Two of the Hawley children later married into the Bridges family, who are known to have been close friends to the Austens and indeed, Elizabeth Bridges married Jane Austen's brother Edward. Henry Hawley's son Henry was a good friend of Edward Austen and in 1802 the two of them applied for a joint passport to travel to Paris. Three of the Hawley daughters are mentioned in Jane Austen's letters. 

However not only was Eliza Hall's aunt known to have been a friend of the Austens, it now transpires that there were other connections between Eliza Hall and Jane Austen - connections which also highlight the Austen family connections with Jamaican plantations and with slavery.

Jane Austen's grandmother Rebecca Hampson was the sister of Sir George Hampson, 5th Baronet of Taplow. 

Rebecca Hampson married firstly William Walter and secondly William Austen. The sons of the two marriages - William Hampson Walter and George Austen, Jane Austen's father, remained close all their lives.

The Hampson family owned plantations in Jamaica and after the death of the 5th Baronet in Jamaica in 1754, his estates passed to his eldest son, Sir George Hampson, 6th Baronet. Four years later, at Kingston Jamaica, this George married Mary Pinnock, who was the daughter of Thomas Pinnock, another Jamaican plantation owner.

In June 1773 George Hampson made his will in Kingston. He named his cousin John Cope Freeman as guardian of his two young children. The executors were named as James and Philip Pinnock, both brothers of his late wife Mary Pinnock who had died the previous year. 

At the end of that year, on 12 December 1773 Jane Austen's mother Cassandra wrote to Susannah Walter, the wife of William Hampson Walter, to say she was sorry to hear that Sir George Hampson had had a bad accident and that she hoped he would soon recover and be able to take George Walter [Susannah Walter's son] back to Jamaica with him next spring. 

It seems George Hampson never did return to Jamaica for towards the end of 1774 he wrote a codicil to his will in which he wrote that he had left Jamaica a few days after having written his will, which had been left in the care of James Pinnock and he then refers to his 'long and painful illness' during which time he was cared for by his sister Jane Louisa Hampson. As it was now clear he was going to die in England, he changed his executors to his cousins William Hampson Walter and Capel Cure. 

Sir George Hampson died in London on 25 December 1774 and was buried three days later at St Marylebone parish church.

James Pinnock, brother-in-law and friend of Sir George Hampson, was also a cousin by marriage to the father of Eliza Hall. James Pinnock's wife was Elizabeth Dehaney, daughter of George Dehaney of Jamaica. George Dehaney's sister Mary was married to Thomas Hall senior (b.1725) who was Eliza Hall's grandfather. George and Mary Dehaney's father was David Dehaney of the Point and Barbican sugar estates in Jamaica.

Like the Dehaneys and the Hampsons, the Hall family owned sugar plantations in Jamaica and were owners of large numbers of slaves. 

The Halls presence in Jamaica dated back to the end of the seventeenth century and for generations the family had amassed land, wealth and slaves on the island. Records of the Hall family including personal family papers are held at UC San Diego, which you can find HERE. On his death in 1772, the property of Thomas Hall (b. 1725) was listed as including 752 slaves and a total estate value of £58,613. You can read more about the Hall family and. their connection to slavery on the excellent UCL website Legacies of British Slave Ownership HERE.

The bulk of the Hall's Jamaican property went to the eldest son, Hugh Kirkpatrick Hall but younger sons William and Thomas Hall were also bequeathed substantial estates in Jamaica. Other estates were left to Philip Dehaney, eldest surviving brother of Thomas Hall's wife, Mary.

Here we can see then, the links between the plantation families of Hampson, Dehaney, Pinnock and Hall and how they were intertwined by marriages between the families.

Eliza Hall married Colonel Thomas Harding Newman on 29 December 1817. It was Harding Newman's second marriage; his first wife Harriet Cartwright died after the birth of their third child. He was 38, Eliza was ten years younger.

The epitome of the marriage settlement can be found in the records of UC San Diego HERE.

Eliza Hall's husband, Colonel Thomas Harding Newman, also came from a a family with interests in Jamaica - his grandfather Benjamin Newman had been born at Blue Hole in Jamaica of which Thomas Harding Newman inherited a share from his aunt Eliza Tharp, in 1831. 


Eliza Anne Hall's address on her marriage settlement is given as Cumberland Street Portman Square and her father is of the same address. Other parties to the marriage settlement were John Russell of Stubbers Essex, Benjamin Harding, John Hall, Captain Charles Hall and William Knight Dehaney.

Cumberland Street is now incorporated into Great Cumberland Place - running from Marble Arch to Bryanston Square - but when the street was built in the late 18th century it was split into three sections. Cumberland Street ran from Marble Arch (then known as Tyburn) up to the semicircular crescent which was known as Cumberland Place. The section between here and Bryanston Square was known as Cumberland Street Portman Square.

This was a fashionable part of London and had been built relatively recently; Cumberland Place was completed in 1789 and extended north to Bryanston Square in 1811. 

(Henry and Eliza Austen also lived in this fashionable area for a time - just around the corner at 24 Upper Berkeley Street from 1801-1804.) 

On 14 November 1791 Jane Austen's cousin Eliza de Feuillde (née Hancock) wrote from Orchard Street to Philadelphia (Phillida) Walter, the daughter of William Hampson Walter:
Did I tell you when I saw you in Town how very Noble a House our Cousin Hampson has got, he has left Wimpole Street and is now in Cumberland Place, where he has purchased a really magnificent Mansion.
Phillida evidently did not know the street as in the next letter, dated 23 December 1791, Eliza writes:
In answer to your enquiry concerning the Situation of Cumberland Place, a question which I assure you did not in the least surprise me, because it is part of the Town which few people are acquainted with from its having been very lately built...
Their cousin was Sir Thomas Philip Hampson, son of Sir George Hampson and Mary Pinnock and he had purchased the house at 10 Cumberland Place.

Not only was Eliza Hall, like the Hampsons, from a family who owned plantations in Jamaica; not only was her father Thomas Hall, like the Hampsons, related to the Pinnock family of Jamaica, but Thomas Philip Hampson also owned property in the same street as Thomas Hall.


Sir Thomas Philip Hampson was well known to Jane Austen. In her letter to Cassandra dated 25 April 1811 when she was staying with her brother Henry at Sloane Street we hear that she was
quite surrounded by acquaintance, especially Gentlemen; & what with Mr Hampson, M’ Seymour, M’ W. Knatchbull, M’ Guillemarde, M’ Cure, a Cap’ Simpson, brother to the Capt Simpson, besides M’ Walter & M’ Egerton, in addition to the Cookes & Miss Beckford & Miss Middleton, I had quite as much upon my hands as I could do.

In her letter to Cassandra from Henry Austen's house in London in November 1813 Jane Austen post scripted her letter with the comment 'We do not like Mr Hampson's scheme.' What the scheme was, we do not know, but it is likely it related to Henry's banking business.

In July 1813 Henry Austen had been appointed Receiver of Taxes for Oxfordshire. His guarantors for the position were brother Edward Austen Knight, Henry's uncle James Leigh Perrot and Thomas Philip Hampson. A bond of £73,000 was posted in 24 July 1813. According to Clive Caplan in his article Jane Austen's Banker Brother, the following spring Mr Hampson was found frequently attending the bank. The following year, 1815, Henry Austen's bank failed.

Thomas Philip Hampson died in 1820 and was succeeded by his son George Francis Hampson as the 8th Baronet of Taplow. 

It seems Jane Austen was not very too keen on George - she wrote to Cassandra in 1814:

I got the Willow yesterday, as Henry was not quite ready when I reached Henrietta Street  - I saw Mr Hampson there for a moment. he dines here tomorrow & proposed bringing his son; so I must submit to seeing George Hampson though I had hoped to go through Life without it. - It was one of my vanities, like your not reading Patronage.
The Austen family had other connections to the slave trade - George Austen was a trustee of property in Antigua owned by his friend James Nibbs for example - and Austen's own views on slavery continue to be a subject of debate. The purpose of this post however, is not to evaluate Austen's own opinion but to point out that in the case of the Rice Portrait the Jamaican plantations, slavery and the wealth derived from them were a feature of the lives of both the family of Jane Austen and the family of Eliza Hall and form yet another connection between these two women. 


So, in addition to Eliza Hall's aunt on her mother's side, Lady Ann Hawley of Leybourne Grange being known to be a friend of the Austen family, on her father's side the Hall family had strong connections to the Hampson family, close relatives and financial backer of Jane Austen's own brother Henry Austen. The sugar plantations of Jamaica form a direct link between Jane Austen's family and Eliza Hall's family. 

Eliza Hall was clearly no distant stranger to the Austens - and indeed it is possible that the reason Thomas Austen gave her the portrait of Jane Austen as a girl was because Eliza Hall was not only an admirer of the novelist but had also known Jane Austen personally.

If Eliza Hall had known Jane as now seems likely, then the journey the portrait took when it temporarily left the wider Austen family and passed into the temporary ownership of the Harding-Newmans is entirely understandable.

The connections between these families demonstrates that Deirdre Le Faye's theory that the portrait was of another family member altogether can be discarded - Eliza Hall had too many relatives who were close to the Austen family for this to have been the case.

Contrary to the claims of opponents of the picture, the provenance of the Rice Portrait is very straightforward indeed and much stronger than that of many other pictures hanging in the National Portrait Gallery! It was given by a relative of Jane Austen to Eliza Hall who had links to the Austen family as we have seen. Two generations later it was returned to John Morland Rice, the grandson of Jane's brother Edward, and it has remained within the Rice family ever since.

The chart below shows the documented provenance of the Rice Portrait.

Ps. Reading Le Faye's Chronology of Jane Austen and her Family, I was interested to note that a certain G Pinnock made some regular payments to Jane Austen's father, George Austen as follows:

18 Nov 1794 received £56.3s2d from G Pinnock

9 Jun 1795 receives £56.9s.3d from G Pinnock
13 Jan 1796 receives £53.1s.0d from G Pinnock
13 June 1796 Receives £70.13s0d from G Pinnock

I have no idea what these payments were for and if anyone can enlighten me or has any suggestions then I would be very grateful.

Thank you for reading.

Ellie Bennett

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Complaint to Financial Times

As I have posted previously, I believe that the portrait which the National Portrait Gallery has authenticated as being by James Northcote of Mrs Smith and dated 1803 to be a fake.

I have complained to the Financial Times without success. Today I took my complaint to Mr Greg Callus who is the Financial Times' editorial complaints commissioner. 

(You may not be aware, as I was not, that membership of IPSO, the successor to the Press Compaints Commission is entirely voluntary. The Financial Times therefore has decided to regulate itself.)

You can read more about this in this Guardian article HERE

As you can see HERE Mr Callus has generally found in favour of the newspaper. 

Let's see what he decides about my complaint. 

You can read the text of my complaint below:

Dear Mr Callus,

I wish to make a formal complaint regarding the article titled 'Me, Mrs Smith and the mysterious Jane Austen' which featured in the Financial Times earlier this year, published online on 30 March 2017 and in print on 01 April 2017.

The article was written by the Financial Times journalist Anjana Ahuja and recounts how she allegedly purchased a portrait at auction which she subsequently discovered to have a direct bearing on another portrait, in private ownership, which is believed by its owners and many others to be a portrait of Jane Austen as a girl. 

I believe that the painting which Ms Ahuja claims to be a portrait of 'Mrs Smith' by James Northcote painted in 1803 to be a fake. I also believe the story published in your paper is a fabrication. It is my belief that Anjana Ahuja, her husband Tom Parker and Jacob Simon, former Chief Curator of 18th Century Collections at the National Portrait Gallery, have colluded to pass off a portrait as being by James Northcote and dated 1803, when in fact it is not. The purpose was to descredit and devalue the portrait claimed to be of Austen, commonly known as the Rice Portrait. It is undoubtedly the case that this article published in the Financial Times has had a substantially detrimental effect on the value of the Rice Portrait, particularly given the prominence of the article in the Financial Times' Weekend Edition and online.

The reasons I believe the article by Anjana Ahuja to be untrue are as follows:

1. Ms Ahuja claims that she and her husband did not previously know Jacob Simon of the National Portrait Gallery. Yet the email held in the NPG archives which purports to be the first contact between them opens 'Dear Jacob' and closes 'Tom'. As Mr Parker's email address gives no indication as to his identity it is not credible that he would have addressed Mr Simon or signed of in this informal fashion it they were not known to each other. Indeed, if they did not know each other then how would Mr Simon know who 'Tom' was? 

2. Ms Ahuja claims to have attended the auction for 'a speculative look' and refers to the painting being in the boot of her car. If she had really attended either a viewing or the auction itself then she would have known that the portrait she claims to be of Mrs Smith was one of a pair. Neither she or her husband make any reference to this companion portrait in their initial correspondence with Mr Simon, despite the fact that the existence of this second portrait casts serious doubt on her portrait being Mrs Smith. Both pictures show scuffing in the same area, where the Northcote signature is placed on the portrait of 'Mrs Smith'. 

3. Had Ms Ahuja been in the auction room as she claimed then it is impossible that the previous lot would have escaped her attention. She would undoubtedly have known that this companion portrait was the previous lot and she would have known how much it sold for. Records in the National Portrait Gallery indicate she did not know how much the companion portrait fetched at auction. She stated that it sold  for more than her own portrait when in fact it sold for a mere £300.

4. Ms Ahuja made no attempt to contact the owners of the Rice Portrait until the day before she was due to submit her article for publication. If she was truly impartial she would, as a journalist, have sought both sides of the story as it is clear from even a cursory search online that Jacob Simon has a long standing history of campaigning against the Rice Portrait.

5. Ms Ahuja refuses to allow her picture to be examined and she also refuses to provide high resolution images of the Legg stamp and the excise stamp on the back of the portrait. Her reluctance to do so is inexplicable if she is an innocent party in this long running dispute, as she claims. 

6. The National Portrait Gallery have told me that Jacob Simon did not take any images of the Legg stamp or the excise stamp when he verified the picture as being of Mrs Smith. Neither did he write an authentication report. Mr Simon has campaigned against the Rice Portrait for decades. It is utterly implausible that he would not take images of this picture if it is as claimed and could vindicate his long standing campaign against the Rice Portrait.

I acknowledge that the Financial Times could not have known at the time of publication that the picture is a fake and Ms Ahuja's story a fabrication. However, I do not believe that the FT have dealt adequately with my subsequent complaint, nor have the issues that I raised been investigated. Indeed it seems to me that the Financial Times has been content to accept Ms Ahuja's version of events without question.

I believe that Ms Anjana Ahuja has clearly breached the FT's editorial code of practice in publishing this story and I am therefore requesting that you fully investigate my complaint. If Ms Ahuja, Mr Simon or the Financial Times believes that my statements are in any way defamatory as the Financial Times has alleged, then this should be challenged through the proper legal procedure of an action for defamation, in which case I would defend my statements as being true; my honestly held opinion and made in the public interest.  

Yours sincerely,

Ellie Bennett