The research by Professor David Hook 
into the 5 portraits acquired 

Note: Research still in progress

Taken from:

Lord Kingsborough, Agostino Aglio, and The Antiquities of Mexico
New Evidence for the History of a Book and a Bankruptcy

On this point, a tantalising glimpse of Aglio ' s possible connections is offered by a portfolio of five chalk and pencil portrait sketches executed by the artist in Manchester, which was offered for sale by the auctioneers Holloways of Banbury in March 2008.27 The subjects of the portraits are, according to the captions, 'John Thorpe of Manchester', 'Mr Bradely of Manchester', 'Ro. Sharp of Manchester', 'Mr Burt of Manchester' and 'Mr Flemming of Manchester'. A 'Mr Thorpe' is mentioned in letters written by Kingsborough and Aglio in 1835 (Aglio Papers, letters 5, 12a, 12b) as one of the Assignees in Bankruptcy, and in a banking context. John Thorpe was a prominent member of Manchester's civic elite in the 1830s, a period of significant development leading up to the restoration of the town's status as a Borough in 1838. He was Comptroller of the Commissioners of the Manchester Police in 1833, a post from which he retired in 1834 (receiving a formal presentation on doing so);28 Clerk to the directors of the Manchester Gas Works (a more significant post than its title would suggest, since the gas company, with its offices in the Town Hall, was the main source of civic income for urban improvements at that time);29 a director of the Northern & Central Bank ofEngland;30 a member of the Manchester Board of the Standard Life Assurance Reversionary Interest and Annuity Company;31 of that of the Provisional Committee of the Manchester South Union Railway;32 and, after the grant of a charter in 1838, Borough Treasurer, a post to which he was re-elected with acclaim in 1840 and 1841.33 It was probably through his role as a member of the Comissioners of the Manchester Police that he met Aglio; the Commissioners, the board of the Gas Works, and the 'Improvement Committee', all based at the Town Hall which Aglio decorated, seem to have formed a tight-knit ruling group. Another of the subjects of the sketches, "Mr Bradely', is probably to be identified with Benjamin Braidley, who was treasurer of the same Police Commissioners in 1833.34 Robert Sharp was a member, alongside John Thorpe, of the Provisional Committee of the Manchester South Union Railway in 1836.35 Another of the subjects may provisionally be identified with James Burt, listed as a magistrate in 1840-41, or just possibly James Burt, Jun., who was a Commissioner of the Police in 1842;36 and finally if 'Mr Flemming' is Thomas Fleming (1767-1848) then we are faced with an Aglio portrait of the distinguished citizen, influential Tory politician, and promotor of the Gas Works enterprise, whose statue may be seen in Manchester Cathedral; he was also a Commissioner in the Tax Office at 17 Brazennose Street in 1840, as well as being a Deputy Treasurer of the Manchester Royal Infirmary in the same year.37 It is perhaps also worth noting here that William Seddon, the Solicitor dealing with Aglio's Estate after his bankruptcy, was also the Solicitor to the Manchester Board of the Standard Life Company in 1836, the same year that Thorpe was on that Board.38 Aglio, then, may have enjoyed the patronage of some of the most distinguished members of the Manchester civic establishment around the time of his bankruptcy; and it may therefore have been such practical, fmancially-astute men of some significant status in this dynamic town who were acting as, or were in support of, his Assignees in Bankruptcy in their pursuit of Kingsborough. Further research will be necessary on this point, but it is an unexpected development to discover that archives in Manchester may hold information of importance to the later history of the Antiquities of Mexico.


  1. I am most grateful to Mr Nicholas Williams, director of Holloways, for a very helpful discussion of these sketches and their provenance, and for his good offices in enabling me to acquire them from their owner, Mr Jerry Warren, to whom I am greatly obliged both for his kindness and for an interesting account of the circumstances in which he purchased them. The sketches had previously been offered for sale in an auction at Capes Dunn in Manchester before Mr Warren acquired them from a London source.
  2. Thorpe as Comptroller of the Police Commissioners: MTG, Saturday 3 August 1833 (issue 250); his retirement from the post, and the presentation of 'a very handsome time-piece' as 'A Tribute of Respect', MTG, Saturday 29 March 1834 (issue 283).
  3. Gas Works: public notices signed by Thorpe as Clerk. e.g., MTG, Saturday 3 August. 1833 (issue 250).
  4. Northern & Central Bank of England: MTG, Saturday 1 February 1834 (issue 275).
  5. Standard Life: notice in MTG. Saturday 4 June 1836 (issue 397).
  6. Manchester South Union Railway: prospectus, MTG, Saturday 16 January 1836 (issue 377).
  7. Borough Treasurer: 'Manchester Town Council', MTG, Saturday 15 June 1839 (issue 560); re- elections: 'Town Council Quarterly Meeting', MTG Saturday 14 November 1840 (issue 633); 'Manchester« Town Council'. MTG, Saturday 13 November 1841 (issue 487); Pigot & Slater's General, Classified and Street Directory of Manchester and Sa/ford. II, 141.
  8. MTG, Saturday 3 August 1833 (issue 250).
  9. MTG, Saturday 16 January 1836 (issue 377).
  10. For James Burt. Magistrate: Pigot & Slater's General, Classified and Street Directory of Manchester and Salford, 1, 105, and II, 140. For James Burt, Junior: MTG, Saturday 3 September 1842 (issue 727).
  11. There is a brief account of statue and subject at: Public Monument and Sculpture Association National Recording Project, at <> (accessed 20 July 2008). For the Tax Office: Pigot & Slater's General, Classified and Street Directory of Manchester and Salford, I, 102; for the Royal Infirmary, p. 100.
  12. MTG, Saturday 4 June

Professor David Hook
Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
University of Bristol