In the corner of the Library at Verdmont, the historic house belonging to Bermuda National Trust, there is a framed print:
The framed print from the Library at Verdmont. Photo courtesy of Bermuda National Trust.
There is a green folder in each room that informs the docent or the enquiring visitor just what each item on display is and where it comes from. But with this picture I came unstuck – the description given just didn’t quite fit. And so I have been puzzling over this intermittently for a few months now, am a little closer to an answer but haven’t quite got there. I am now handing it over to .. well, to anyone who can help!
What I have discovered so far:
The style of the image
It appears to be a bookplate or similar, a print from an engraving commonly found inside books from the late 17th and 18th century.
Richard Blome (1635-1705)
Blome was a prolific publisher of cartographic and heraldic material in the second half of the seventeenth century. He was a pioneer of the subscription method to finance his productions: by paying in advance a subscriber was rewarded by his coat of arms being placed within the work. This page was dedicated by Richard Blome to Robert Clayton.
An early publication by Blome was a book of maps entitled “Brittania” which was criticised for plagiarism from similar maps by Camden and Speed. Then in 1667 he had a new series of maps engraved for “A Geographical Description of the Four Parts of the World”. These were engraved by Francis Lamb, Thomas Burnford and Wenceslaus Holler.
in 1680s Blome moved away from maps and published “The Gentlemans Recreation”, part encyclopaedia and part treatise in gentlemanly sports of the day. It was printed in 1686 and contained 85 engraved plates, many of which are dedicated to specific gentlemen. “The History of the Old Testament”, another by Blome, consisted of 2 volumes with 238 engraved plates done by Johannes Kip.
Could this plate be from one of these books? There IS one plate in an edition of “The Gentleman’s Recreation” dedicated to Sir Robert Clayton but the image is called “Pomona” and is of apple picking – definitely not the one I am looking for.
It was common to change the dedications in subsequent editions of a publication, using the same picture but substituting the new subscribers details.
Sir Robert Clayton (1629-1707)
Sir Robert Clayton came from a poor background but his successes in life include being instrumental in establishing deposit banks in England. He became Lord Mayor of London in 1680 – referred to in this engraving. As Lord Mayor he was known for extravagant entertaining and his cedar dining room was reportedly decorated with classical scenes painted by an English artist Robert Streater. The facade of Clayton’s London home in the Old Jewry was the subject of engravings in 1679, copies are held in The British Museum.
Clayton was also a major benefactor to St Thomas’s Hospital and Christ’s Hospital.
Sir Robert Clayton by John Smith. Image courtesy of National Picture Gallery.
He owned an estate, Marden, in Surrey and was MP for Bletchingley in Surrey from 1690 until his death in 1707. A monument in Bletchingley Church depicting him and his wife was erected during his lifetime and subsequently both were buried there.
He married Martha Trott in 1659. She was the daughter of Perient Trott. Their wedding gift or dowry was one share of Trott’s stock in the Somer’s Island Company. They had one son who sadly died shortly after birth on 16 August 1665. At this time the Claytons fled the plague in London to stay with Robert Vyner in Middlesex.
Perient Trott (died after 1670)
Perient Trott was a London merchant in Vine Court. His unusual first name came from his Mother’s surname “Perient”. His father was Martin Trott and mother Anne Perient.
In 1658 Trott purchased 20 shares of land on Bermuda from Robert Rich, the Earl of Warwick. He never visited Bermuda himself but mixed in the circles of merchants who traded with Bermuda and further afield in South Carolina and the West Indies. But Trott was sometimes controversial – once being censured for illicit tobacco trading and another time protesting against the Bermuda Company who were restricting trading ships to the island. However, by 1671 his wealth had increased substantially and he had taken warehouses in St Botolph Without at Bishopsgate. He now owned land on Bermuda in parishes of Hamilton, Pembroke, Paget and Warwick.
He had two sons, Samuel and Perient Junior, as well as his daughter Martha. Both of his sons spent some time living in Bermuda. The Christian name “Perient” was passed down through the family for several generations. Between 1726 and 1739 one Perient Trott was Speaker of the House of Assembly in Bermuda.
Samuel’s son, Nicholas Trott, became a renowned 18th century judge in South Carolina.
The Coat of Arms
The engraving bears a coat of arms, the left side depicting the arms for Sir Robert Clayton and on the right side are the vertical stripes of the Trott family.
Towards the top of the image is a banner that reads: Book1 Part 10 Chap 34
This could be the chapter heading of the book in which the engraving sat or it could be a description of the picture itself. It is a classical drawing and there are several classical works that run to ten parts and 34 chapters but after browsing some such as Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars and Livy’s History of Rome the text doesn’t fit the picture. Plato’s Republic has a Book 1 that deals with justice and one of the figures seems to represent Justice but, since it is not an obvious link, I am more inclined to think the banner refers to the book published by Blome.
I have found similar images on an auction website, with an accompanying description suggesting they might come from “The Gentleman’s Recreation” since they are of similar size and format.
One seated, three standing. The one to the left of the throne appears to be a depiction of Justice with balancing scales and a sword. Could they depict the four cardinal virtues – Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance? One is sewing, another holds a wreath and seems to have fruits on her shoulder while the seated figure has no distinguishing features apart from looking sternly at the figure of the young black boy who seems to be presenting himself, cap in hand and hand on chest. The boy has a collar around his neck perhaps indicating he is a slave although he seems well shod.
Another possibility for the figures is that they represent Roman Goddesses – for example the aforementioned Pomona was often drawn with fruit,
At the bottom of the engraved image appear two names – one to the left and one the right side. The one on the right is similar to that of Johannes Kip, a Dutch engraver who arrived in England in 1688. He was known for engravings of country mansions.
The left hand signature I cannot make out. Kip sometimes did engravings after work by Leonard Knyff but although the first initial looks like an ‘L’ the second name seems to start with an ‘I’.
The connection to Verdmont is through the Trott family, a descendant, Samuel Trott, owned the house from 1803, and his son after him. It is an engraving typical of those that would have decorated homes around that time period and so may actually just be representative of this, without any particular significance to the place or even to Bermuda. My search for the origin of the image has led in many directions but not yet to an answer!
Suggestions welcome …..
Sir Robert Clayton
Bermuda Settlers of the Seventeenth Century Julia Mercer
Blow me down with a feather, but just as I am about to post this on the blog, checking through the references and …. there it is:
Well, this is a screenshot
Not exact, but the image is the same with just the banner at the top and the dedication section that differ.
The book is entitled : The History of Nature in Two Parts
Apparently published in 1720 which is after the apparent dedication date of 1680 and after the deaths of Clayton, Blome and Trott. This makes it seem that maybe this book was not the original for the image, just using it again!
You can see the whole book on the Open Library website, the book reference is
The picture is entitled “Duties of Masters and Servants” and the writing beneath is one possible explanation for the figures portrayed.
Open Library: The History of Nature in Two Parts
I am left with some unknowns still –
Who drew the original picture from which Jan Kip made his engraving?
In which book did the dedication to Robert Clayton appear with this image?
How did the picture find its way to Verdmont?