New Zealand collector - portraits of the Atkins family

It is unusual to find a family group of portraits, as they frequently get split up amongst the heirs. The owner of these portraits who is descended from the Atkins family has kindly allowed them to be displayed here. Unfortunately none of the portraits are signed, but from an inspection of them it seems the two ladies could be by one artist, with the miniatures of the two men by a second and third artist.

As they have only recently come into his possession, the owner is currently undertaking some family history research to try and confirm the identities of the sitters. Thus the preliminary comments made below, may need to be amended in due course.

The first portrait is inscribed on the reverse "Mrs Atkins nee Miss Shutt married Thomas Atkins". A marriage of Thomas Atkins and Jane Shutt did take place in 1804, but the style of the dress of the sitter could suggest it may be from an earlier generation. 117

The second miniature portrait of a man wearing a green coat is accompanied by a note which reads; "Probably Thomas Atkins eldest son of the Thomas Atkins who married Ann Unwin. This one married Miss Shutt and had two children Thomas Shutt Atkins and Jane Atkins."

However at first thought, this seems a little doubtful, as the marriage of Thomas Atkins and Jane Shutt is recorded on 13 Sept 1804 at Walthamstow Essex, whereas the costume of this sitter looks to be closer to 1775.

Instead it seems perhaps more likely it is the Thomas Atkins who married Ann Unwin in 1773. 133

The third unsigned miniature portrait of a young man in a brown coat is accompanied by a note that reads "Thomas Atkins & Ann Unwin married at St Alphage, London Wall in 1773" and the marriage record for them has been located on 17 Jul 1773 at Saint Alphage, London Wall.

It may in fact be that the two notes have been reversed, with the man in the brown coat being the younger Thomas Atkins who was married in 1804, as the style of his coat collar and hair is somewhat later than that on the man in the green coat. 134

At The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1674 to 1834 there is an interesting reference on 11 April 1833 to Thomas Shutt Atkins where he is a witness at the trial of a certain Thomas William Peppers on charges of deception and forgery. Thomas Shutt Atkins gives his occupation as insurance broker and appears to occupy premses at 20 Birchin Lane, London. The defendant, Thomas William Peppers was found guilty by the Court and was sentenced to be transported for life, presumably to Tasmania, Australia.

The fourth miniature portrait has the remains of a label on the reverse which reads as follows ""(sis)ter of Thomas Shutt Atkins - (a)unt of Thomas Howell Atkins". The sister of Thomas Shutt Atkins was a Jane Atkins, so she would seem to be this sitter.

However, Thomas Shutt Atkins' parents (Thomas Atkins and Jane Shutt) were only married in 1804 as per the adjacent notes. This lady seems to be wearing clothes from around 1780 and so it appears she is perhaps from an earlier generation of Atkins, perhaps even Ann Unwin, the mother of Thomas Atkins and thus the grandmother of Thomas Shutt Atkins. 135

The fifth portrait is believed to be Edward Warner who was married to his second wife. Ann in 1809, but died in 1815 aged 71 at Walthamstow.

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