Abraham Wivell

Abraham Wivell
The stable &c. in Cato Street where the conspirators met. Drawn and engraved by Abraham Wivell for George Theodore Wilkinson, “An authentic history of the Cato-Street Conspiracy” 1820. © The Trustees of the British Museum. Museum number 1880, 1113.4646.

WIVELL, Abraham (1786-1849) — London

Portrait painter, etcher and engraver. Drew and engraved The stable &c. in Cato Street where the conspirators met, incorporating a plan of the upper rooms, for George Theodore Wilkinson, “An authentic history of the Cato-Street Conspiracy” 1820. Principally known as a portraitist, Wivell is also remembered for his “An inquiry into the history, authenticity, and characteristics of the Shakspeare portraits … with an exposé of the spurious pictures and prints” 1827. As a portrait painter he is known for studies of George IV and other members of the royal family, as well as Sir Francis Burdett, George Canning, Lord Cochrane, Sir John Cam Hobhouse, William Huskisson,  Lord John Russell, etc.

Born 9 Jul 1786 at St. Marylebone and baptised at St. Mary 13 Aug 1786, the only son of Walter Wivell and his wife Mary Whitaker, who had married in Cornwall in 1776. His father died in 1790 and Wivell worked for a living from the age of six. In 1799 he began a seven-year apprenticeship to a wigmaker and hairdresser named Osborne. As a hairdresser, he began to display miniatures among the wigs in his window, coming to the attention of the sculptor Joseph Nollekens and the painter James Northcote, both of whom encouraged his artistic career. He married (1) Mary Davies (1778?-1821) 29 Oct 1809 at St. Marylebone and (2) Harriet Tilbury (1804-1885) 29 Oct 1821, again at St. Marylebone, with whom he had over a dozen children. Exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere, as did his son of the same name. The attempted theft of a handkerchief from his pocket in Wardour Street in 1830 led to the eighteen-year-old pickpocket being transported for seven years. Wivell is also remembered as the inventor of a rope fire escape and his work for the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire. He moved to Birmingham in later life and died there of chronic bronchitis 29 Mar 1849. He was buried at St. Bartholomew, Edgbaston, 5 Apr 1849.

57 Great Portland Street, Marylebone — 1814
105 Great Titchfield Street — 1819-1820
40 Castle Street East, Marylebone — 1822-1827
Camden Place, Camden Town — 1828-1829
5 Edward Street, Hampstead — 1830-1831
Albany Street, St. Pancras — 1835
Randolph Street, Camden Town — 1837
20 Cardington Street, Euston Square — 1841
Edgbaston, Birmingham — 1841-1846
Pershore Road, Birmingham — 1844-1846

BM. BNA. Bryan. Census 1841. COPAC. Graves (1901) (1905). GL. Hake. NA. OB. ODNB.

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