This is a wonderful folky watercolour portrait of a boy standing on the seashore. While not a portrait by an academically trained artist, it provides wonderful dtails on the outfit that the boy is earing. This boy is dressed in a black tunic with what looks like two diverging columns of buttons. Also note that the skirt of the tunic is pleated. He wears his tunic over matching long trousers. We are not yet sure how common it was to pleat these tunics. He wears his tunic with a broad belt at the waist and a deep white collar tied with a blue ribbon. He's holding a large peaked hat. His costume is typical of the 1830s. There is a family tree inscription on the reverse of the portrait that identifies the child as Jethro Scowcroft (1829-80), son of Thomas Scowcroft. Jethro have been about about 7 or 8 years old when this portrait was painted, but probably less than 10 years--meaning the image was painted about 1837-40. As the portrait is drawn by a primitive or naive artist, it is difficult to estimate his age. Jethro's tunic suit and peaked cap looks rather like an outfit that boys may have worn to school. It presumably is not a school uniform, but rather a fashion that English boys wore to school. The portrait is watercolor on card.
A HBC reader tells us that he is researching the Scowcroft family tree. He tells us that, "Jethro Scowcroft was indeed the son of Thomas. Thomas was a wealthy man, his family had coal on their land and with the start of the industrial revolution this became
commercially important. Jethro also became a coal mine owner, building something of an empire in the Lancashire area. The family lived in a place calle Bradshaw Chapel near Bolton in Lancashire but their mine ownership spread wider through the county. The Scowcrofts retained the ownership of the mines into the 20th century when they were eventually taken into public ownership. There is a stained glass window commemorating Jethro and his family in Hindley Parish Church. To put this into historical context think of the family as becoming rich through providing the power source for the explosive growth of industry in the North of Britain, especially cotton proceesing, iron and steel
production etc. We are talking Charles Dickens "Hard Times", "Dark satanic mills" etc.
You may also be interested to know that Brent Scowcroft, National Security Adviser
during the first Iraqi war is also linked with this family. [Scowcroft]
Scowcroft, Brian. E-mail message, June 9, 2003.
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