The Captain comes to visit


Portrait of Captain Henry Skillicorne

For the past week we have been playing host to Captain Henry Skillicorne (1678–1763).

It’s all thanks to Jenny Ogle, the Queen of the Friends of The Wilson (Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum). Jenny heard on the grapevine that a Cheltenham hotel was selling off some of its pictures, including a forgotten three-quarter length portrait of the Captain, one of Cheltenham’s founding fathers, which had graced a bar there for many years. Jenny was stung into action, and she and Hilary went off to the auction with a view to securing the portrait for the public to own and see at The Wilson.

2015-12-16 22.17.34The dashing sea-captain Henry Skillicorne (1678–1763) came from the Isle of Man and spent his career in Bristol running merchant ships for Mr Jacob Elton to and from Zante (Zakynthos) and the “Currant Islands” in the Ionian Sea – and further afield – in the early eighteenth century. When he retired from a life on the ocean wave, Henry met and married Elizabeth Mason in Bristol (his second wife) and through her inherited property in Cheltenham, at the spot where the first mineral springs were found. He moved to Cheltenham in 1838 and set about marketing the town as a spa, building a pump to regulate the flow of spring water, and generally contributing to the development of Cheltenham’s elegant central walkways.

And the painting? Jenny and Hilary secured it for The Wilson, and after lodging with us for a week it’s now undergoing some minor restoration before it graces the walls of Cheltenham’s art gallery…

Update from Pittville History Works – October 2015

Mapping Pittville
The Cheltenham Old Town Survey (1855-7) is a detailed large-scale map of Cheltenham, and we’ve now integrated the Pittville section into the History Works data. This means that you can find the location on the map of any house included in the database and, in addition, you have the option of seeing plotted on the map the results of any database search you run. This is exciting new functionality for the site, and we would like to thank Cheltenham Local History Society, Gloucestershire Archives, and Cheltenham Borough Council for allowing us to use these maps.
Read more about the Pittville map and to try your own searches under the Advanced Search tab (not optimised for tablets). Here are the results of searching for clergy families at the time of the 1861 census

New icons to look out for on the web site
We’ve introduced three new icons on the web site. When you click on them you’ll be taken through to further relevant information.
The house icon leads you through to more information about the Pittville house it relates to.
The map icon shows you the location of your house etc on the large-scale Cheltenham Old Town Survey of 1855-7.
The manuscript icon shows you census returns without the standardised data sometimes used in searches.
There are several of these new icons on the Pittville Lives page.

Transcribing Clarence Square
We’ve almost finished transcribing the census booklets for Clarence Square (1841-1901). Numbers 1-25 are already on the web site, and we have about six more houses on the north side to complete. No 19 was home in 1851 to the family of Charles Gardener, a banker’s cashier (a senior post in the bank), born in Cainscross near Stroud.

Links to the Pittville entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
The ODNB has kindly permitted us to link through to their entries for Pittville people. So you can read the biographies of, for example, Sir James Agg-Gardner (brewer and politician), George Cameron (East India Company army), Sybil ‘Queenie’ Newall (champion archer and Olympic medallist), and about ten other people. The links can be found on our Pittville Lives page.