British School, James Heywood

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
James Heywood
c. mid-1720s
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 73 cm, Overall width: 60 cm
British School
Catalogue Number


James Heywood (1687–1776) was a wealthy London linen-draper. He was the husband of Ann Heywood (née Sperling; TN56) and father of John Heywood (TN23) and Anne Heywood, who became the wife of Thomas Hawkins (TN22). The artist is unknown, but appears to be responsible for both the present portrait and the sitter’s wife (TN56). Based on stylistic grounds, the birth of James Heywood (1687) and his estimated age at the time of the portrait, a date sometime in the mid-1720s for both portraits seems feasible.

Heywood, whose business was situated on Fish Street Hill, Austin Friars, was a governor of St Bartholomew’s, Christ’s, Bridewell and Bethlem hospitals. Aside from his successful business career and public profile in the city, Heywood’s main claim to fame was as the author of Poems and Letters on Several Subjects, published in 1722. In addition, he was the author of a letter to The Spectator (no. 268, 7 January 1712), where he complained of the practical joke, then prevalent at the theatre, of pulling on noses. Heywood was also supposed to have been the original of Beaver the Haberdasher characterised by Richard Steele in The Spectator (no. 492, 6 April 1711). Heywood’s letters to his son-in-law, Thomas Hawkins, during the early 1750s are indicative of the close scrutiny he paid to the remodelling of Trewithen in order to accommodate his daughter there in the comfort to which she was accustomed in the metropolis.1

by Emily Burns


  1. The MS copy of James Heywood’s correspondence in Trewithen library is titled ‘Extracts from Letters written by James Heywood Esq to his correspondents’. The letters span 1752–9.


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