william

Two portraits of William M-P.
The first was identified as William by Minnie Violet (Vi) M-P.1) The second was believed to be a self-portrait by William, so the first may be too.2)

William was Thomas and Eliza Prior's younger son, a soldier and artist. He was born on 18 November 1821 at Bruges, then in the Netherlands, now in Belguim.3) He was baptised at Bray in Berkshire on 19 January 1825.4) His baptism as a three-year old is further confirmation that his parents were evangelical Anglicans. He appears to have been named after his uncle Augustus Skynner.5)

William became an ensign6) in the 59th (2nd Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot. As evidence from this time, we have: some loose blank pages, originally part of a book, with the inscription ‘W.A. Murray Prior. 59th Regt.”; The Kings Regulations and Orders for the Army, 1 June 1837, with the name in it of 'W A Murray Prior 59th Regt'7); and a 1842 account book with the name W.A. Murray-Prior, Ensign 59th Regiment, Jersey.8) 9)

William was also an artist who studied under Thomas Cooper.10) The following damaged unframed painting of herefords is in Cooper's style (see Cooper painting) so may be one of William's in imitation when he was learning. Alternatively, Jemima gave TLM-P at least one painting by Cooper, one with trees in it, which TLM-P described as having been bought by their father, so this painting maybe by Cooper himself. 11)
William died at Portsmouth from a gunshot wound on 5 February 1844 – presumably an accident when training. He was buried in the Portsmouth Garrison Cemetery. When listing his family, his brother consistently TLM-P wrote that William died aged 22 years, 2 months and 18 days old – a precision which suggests profound grief.12) Five years later, TLM-P and his wife named their second son William Augustus: sadly this William soon died.13)

William was also an artist. The seriousness with which he took his art is seen by a very large, thick, heavy album in which he collected his sketches and examples of art.14) There is also a smaller volume engraved ‘Bruges 1841’ containing lithographs of sketches of life in Bruges.15)

As noted, it is probable that William painted portraits of his sister and mother, as well as self-portrait/s. The following sketches are definitely or probably William's.16).This sketch has the faint signature W.M.P.(a dash at line level was then a full stop).
This second sketch is on the other side of the paper, so is presumably also by William, and of his army comrades.
The third sketch has the faint date 1818 and is probably by William of an army comrade.
This badly deteriorated painting on wood was believed to be by William.
The writing below this sketch is unclear but has the name William Prior. The next sketches are on the reverse:

This unfinished sketch was from a collection most likely drawn by William M-P. Given the age of the woman and that it was kept by the family, it is perhaps one of his step-sisters, Jemima or Louisa.

In addition, in his will, TLM-P left his daughter Rosa Praed, a 'portrait of my Mother by W.A. M. Prior'17)

18)


1)
Provenance: Tom A. & M.T. M-P.
2)
Provenance: G.S. M-P to Tom A. M-P.
3)
((‘Questions to be answered by T.L.M-P’, 6pp Memoranda by the Herald Office, Somerset House, London re Burke’s Colonial Gentry; Thomas Bertram M-P, Some Australasian Families Descended from Royalty, ms, n.d., p.24.
4)
notes written in Thomas Prior’s prayer book, ((Provenance: J. Godden.
5)
TLM-P, Diary, 19 August 1882, ML.
6)
lowest rank of commissioned officer in infantry regiments
7)
Provenance: J. Godden.
8)
in NLA< Ms 7801, Box 6
9)
Note that Tomas Bertram M-P has William as an Ensign in the 8th Foot Regiment, Thomas Bertram M-P, Some Australasian Families Descended from Royalty, ms, n.d., p.24.
10)
TLM-P, Diary, 9 August 1882, ML. Four of Cooper's paintings are in the Art Gallery of NSW, see https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/?artist_id=cooper-thomas-sidney
11)
Provenance: From G.S. M-P to T.A. M-P
12)
‘Questions to be answered by T.L.M-P’, 6pp Memoranda by the Herald Office, Somerset House, London re Burke’s Colonial Gentry; TLM-P, genealogical notes in John & John B. Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland: M to Z, London: Henry Colburn Publisher, 1846.
13)
J. Godden) recollects her mother complaining that she wanted to call her son William but was told by her mother-in-law not to as it was unlucky - all William M-Ps died; she then thought of the name 'John' but for reasons this link makes clear, that was not approved by the family either!
14)
Provenance: Geoffrey M-P
15)
Provenance: J. Godden
16)
Provenance of all following sketches/paintings: J. Godden
17)
TLM-P, last will and testament, 1892, original in QJO, donated by Tom A. M-P.
18)
To DO: 1837 diary of W.A. Prior part of diaries donated to ML?
  • william.txt
  • Last modified: 2021/07/20 17:54
  • by judith