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John Raphael Smith

(1752-1812), Portrait painter, engraver and pastellist

Sitter in 1 portrait
Artist associated with 185 portraits
Portrait-painter, mezzotint engraver and print publisher. He was known especially for his small-scale pastel portraits.

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Augustus Montague Toplady, after John Raphael Smith - NPG 3138

Augustus Montague Toplady

after John Raphael Smith
black, white and sepia crayon with grey wash, 1777
NPG 3138

George Morland, by John Raphael Smith - NPG 5931

George Morland

by John Raphael Smith
oil on canvas, 1792
NPG 5931

John Horne Tooke, by John Raphael Smith - NPG 6727

John Horne Tooke

by John Raphael Smith
pastel, exhibited 1811
On display in the Room 18 pastel case at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 6727

William Cobbett, by John Raphael Smith - NPG 6870

William Cobbett

by John Raphael Smith
chalk, engraved 1812
NPG 6870

John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute, by John Raphael Smith, after  Jean Etienne Liotard - NPG D32469

John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute

by John Raphael Smith, after Jean Etienne Liotard
mezzotint, published 1774
NPG D32469

John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute, by John Raphael Smith, after  Jean Etienne Liotard - NPG D13244

John Stuart, 1st Marquess of Bute

by John Raphael Smith, after Jean Etienne Liotard
mezzotint, published 1774
NPG D13244

King George III, probably by John Raphael Smith, after  Jeremiah Meyer - NPG D9255

King George III

probably by John Raphael Smith, after Jeremiah Meyer
mezzotint, (circa 1760)
NPG D9255

Edward Heardson, by John Raphael Smith, published by and after  James Barry - NPG D35646

Edward Heardson

by John Raphael Smith, published by and after James Barry
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D35646

Edward Heardson, by John Raphael Smith, published by and after  James Barry - NPG D35647

Edward Heardson

by John Raphael Smith, published by and after James Barry
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D35647

Sir William Musgrave, 6th Bt, by John Raphael Smith - NPG D39132

Sir William Musgrave, 6th Bt

by John Raphael Smith
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D39132

Miss Chambers, by John Raphael Smith - NPG D1262

Miss Chambers

by John Raphael Smith
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D1262

Sir Henry Harpur, 6th Bt, by John Raphael Smith, after  Unknown artist - NPG D2572

Sir Henry Harpur, 6th Bt

by John Raphael Smith, after Unknown artist
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D2572

Sir Henry Harpur, 6th Bt, by John Raphael Smith, after  Unknown artist - NPG D2948

Sir Henry Harpur, 6th Bt

by John Raphael Smith, after Unknown artist
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D2948

Benjamin Preedy, by John Raphael Smith, after  Unknown artist - NPG D3949

Benjamin Preedy

by John Raphael Smith, after Unknown artist
mezzotint, circa 1770-1808
NPG D3949

Sir William Musgrave, 6th Bt, by John Raphael Smith - NPG D4678

Sir William Musgrave, 6th Bt

by John Raphael Smith
mezzotint, late 18th century
NPG D4678

Sophia Weston, by John Raphael Smith, published by  Mary Ashley (née Wickstead), formerly Mrs Worlidge, after  Thomas Worlidge - NPG D37837

Sophia Weston

by John Raphael Smith, published by Mary Ashley (née Wickstead), formerly Mrs Worlidge, after Thomas Worlidge
mezzotint, published 1 May 1771
NPG D37837

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John Rowley

30 August 2018, 08:20

For the last fifteen years, I have been searching to find out who Benjamin Fayle really was. Many people are aware that he had built South West England’s first railway in Purbeck, linking Norden to Middlebere, for the export of Purbeck Ball Clay. Local history author, Rodney Legg, described him as a London Potter, but that left the question “How does a potter finance the building of what today would be the equivalent to a motorway?”
My search started with a google search on the name “Benjamin Fayle” and surprisingly I discovered that Sydney Art Gallery had a portrait of him. I contacted them and asked about it. It had never been on display or even photographed. I paid to have it photographed and the art Gallery sent me a copy along with a portrait of his mother-in-law. Also provided was the providence of how it came to be in an Australian Art Gallery. It had been passed down through the family to a Brigadier Richard Cunningham Foot. He had married his third wife Elaine Huxley (an Australian Artist) She realised that the portraits having been painted by John Raphael Smith (a Royal portrait painter) should be in a controlled atmosphere of an Art Gallery.
From the provenance, I was able to contact a living relative of Benjamin Fayle – the now late MRD Foot- an ex wartime SAS member and then a Manchester University Historian. He had been given government permission to access the records of the SOE and the right the official history. He was able to confirm to me that Benjamin Fayle had been a Dublin Merchant who had come to London to trade and had married his great 4 times Grandmother – Charlotte Adams.
The late MRD Foot then put the cat amongst the pigeons by saying that there was a family rumour that Charlotte had been pregnant by George 111 at the time of her marriage to Benjamin. The fact that a Royal portrait painter had been involved in the portraits of Benjamin at the time of the marriage seemed to add weight to the family rumour. I then read his book “Memories of a SOE Historian” and in it, MRD Foot made a conflicting statement, that it was George 11 that had a very brief affair with Charlotte’s mother and Charlotte was the outcome.
I searched and searched, and everything was against the rumours. Benjamin and Charlotte’s first child, Henry, was christened 14 months after the wedding. I discovered that Charlotte’s father had been William Adams – a Master Tailor – on 17 Southampton Street, London. Derby born John Raphael Smith had started his career as an apprentice tailor and had come to London to further his career but found he could make more money from his hobby as an artist.
Further internet searching established at a much later that John Raphael Smith’s daughter Mrs Elizabeth Aders, threw “Blue stocking parties” at which both Benjamin Fayle’s daughter (Charlotte Fayle) and son-in-law (Dr Benjamin Guy Babington) attended. This seems to have confirmed that the Royal Portrait painter was a friend of the family and nothing to do with George 111 family rumour.
This left the George 11 rumour and extensive searching provided no clues to prove or disprove that rumour and so it remains just a rumour.
Benjamin Fayle had his offices at 4 Dove Court just off Lombard Street next to the important Coffee House network of information. He was trading in Silk, Flax, Hemp, Linseed, and Indigo (known as “blue gold” at the time) and was a voting member of “The United Company of Merchants of England, Trading to the East-Indies”
All these imported materials would have been used by a Master Tailor and a reason to meet and marry his daughter. His brother-in-law was the Port of London tax commissioner, a useful contact to a Merchant importing goods through the port.
Benjamin had met and become friends with ThomasByerley – Josiah Wedgwood’s Nephew who after the death of Josiah and at the time of the building of the Middlebere Tramway was running the Wedgwood company. The Wedgwood sons at that time were “playing country Gentlemen”. Josiah Wedgwood 11 was living just outside Blandford Forum at Tarrant Gunville and was for a period High Sheriff of Dorset.
Benjamin had borrowed Thomas Byerley’s horse on at least one occasion to ride from London to Dulwich. Benjamin was executor to Byerley’s will. All this pointing to a strong friendship that had lasted over twenty years. With a secured and timely supply of clay requirement needed for Wedgwoods continued success, Thomas Byerley turned to his friend Benjamin Fayle to build the Tramway. With a brother-in-law (Alexander Jaffray) who had founded the Bank of Ireland, finance for the project was not a problem. Just a few years later in Purbeck the Middlebere Tramway was in action securing a timely supply of clay, just one more of the canals and railways requested by Wedgwoods to transport materials and goods to and from the Potteries. The tramway was in use for a hundred years.

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