The Wardill family picture of
The Family Gathering 1838
This is a picture from a daguerreotype of the painting of the Wardill family on the home page. After it was painted Michael, who was both a painter and early photographer, took a number of daguerreotypes and gave one to each member of the family. Only recently has the existence of the original been known to exist by some family members. However the importance of the picture in the family history was appreciated and one family member had a reproduction painted as he thought it was. This is depicted below
The Wardill family picture above has been beautifully reproduced in colour by an artist employed by Peter Jackson Wardill DL, MRCS of Kimpton, Herts (1994) from a photograph of a painting (the original being lost), painted about 1838 by Michael Wardill (1811-1880).
The picture shows the family assembled round the table at 161 (later 10) King Street, Bridlington listening to Jonathan Wardill reading a letter he had received from his brother John, the "black sheep" of the family, who had literally run away to Canada in 1832. The letter is still in existence.
When John left for Canada he was not only a drunkard who had got an under-aged girl "into trouble". But what was worse, as far as the early nineteenth century Wardill family were concerned, he was a complete "rebel" to use his own words in matters of religion.
The letter written from Montreal, to his religious brother Jonathan it is long and verbose and reads rather like a sermon. It tells of his conversion to both religion and teetotalism. The two things which appear to have brought this about this great change in his life were his regular correspondence with his devout elder brother Jonathan, and the influence of the local Montreal Methodists.
The important letter containing the news of John's dramatic conversion, which Jonthan is shown reading in the picture, was sent to Bridlington. But two of the brothers lived elsewhere, James at Leeds and Joseph in London, consequently John sent them letters separately which they took with them to the family reunion and are shown holding them in the picture
The figures in the painting are probably as follows:
James. Standing facing leaning against the mantelpiece and holding his letter received from John.
William. Behind his mothers chair
Mrs. Elizabeth Wardill. The mother of them all, seated at the head of the table holding her spectacles.
Elizabeth junior and Ann. Knitting and sewing.
Dowsland and Joseph. Seated at the foot of the table. Joseph holding his letter from John.
Michael. The artist and painter of the picture, standing facing between Dowsland and Joseph.
Jonathan. Sitting on a chair in the foreground, cross-legged reading the important letter with the details of John's conversion.
James joined John in Montreal in about 1840. They went into business together in the building trade and judging by John's letter to Dowsland in 1846 the announcement of their partnership seems to have been important enough to appear in a local paper. He says: "You say that you see in the papers of me and Jim being partners, it is right and so far nothing has appeared to cause any difference between us, we know something about each others temper and therefore are careful to guard against anything that would cause any difference"
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