Object Image

The Ceremony of Administering the Mayoralty Oath to Nathaniel Newnham, 8 November 1782

Nathaniel Newnham was a sugar-baker and a founder of a private bank. During his public career he was Master of the Mercers’ Company in 1786, Alderman for Vintry Ward from 1774 and Sheriff in 1775. From 1780 to 1784 he was MP for the City. Between 1781 and 1809 he commanded various London militia units. Newnham was also President of St Thomas’s Hospital from 1782 to his death in 1809.

Newnham became Lord Mayor in 1782, and is seen here in his black and gold state robe being admitted in Guildhall on 8th November in the Silent Ceremony.

He faces William Bishop, the Common Cryer, who holds the book from which he reads his Oath with the Town Clerk, William Rix, between them; behind stands Heron Powney the Sword Bearer with the upraised Sword of State. Beside the Sword Bearer is William Montague, the Clerk of the Chamber of London.

The Chamberlain, John Wilkes, sits among the spectators at the right whispering in his neighbour’s ear. The two small boys at the bottom right are nephews of the Lord Mayor, while the new Lady Mayoress is seen leaning forward in a group of ladies on the left.

Directly below is John Boydell, elected Alderman the previous August. His nephew John and Josiah Boydell stand on either side, while Josiah’s wife Jane and Boydell’s niece Mary are among the group of Ladies accompanying the Lady Mayoress; Mary lived with the Alderman, who had no children of his own and looked upon her as a daughter.

In the background is John Bacon’s monument to William Pitt, Earl of Chatham (1783). At the far (West) end is J F Moore’s monument of 1770 to William Beckford (later moved to the South wall). The giant figure of Magog is seen against the North Wall. Beside it is a gallery filled with dignitaries and a balcony bearing a clock, both supported on painted iron columns in the form of palm trees.

Next to the Chatham monument is Reynolds’s portrait of Lord Chief Justice Sir Charles Pratt (Lord Camden), commissioned by the Corporation in gratitude to him for releasing John Wilkes from imprisonment in the Tower.

The other pictures shown are some of the twenty-two portraits by John Michael Wright of the ‘Fire Judges’ commissioned by the Court of Aldermen between 1670 and 1675. Together with some Royal portraits which also hung in the Hall they had been restored and rehung only a couple of years before Nathaniel Newnham’s election as Lord Mayor.

Presented by Alderman John Boydell, 1792

Oil on canvas
155.0 x 216.0cm
Images and text © Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London, 2017

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