The research by Professor David
Note: Research still in progress
Lord Kingsborough, Agostino Aglio, and The
Antiquities of Mexico:
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.
Professor David Hook