As promised a brief update on the death of Ellen Sharples. One of the first rules you learn when researching anyone is to always check information and seek validation whenever possible. Regarding Rolinda’s mother, Ellen – lesson learnt, we naively assumed that the location of Ellen’s burial was Wybunbury, Cheshire as that seems to have been cited on several websites.
We did think it looked strange given that we knew Ellen had remained in Bristol, but of course we couldn’t trace the source of this supposition. Armed with only a year of death we checked the National Burial Index and nothing except for a curious entry for the burial of an Ellen Sharples at St Chad, Wybunbury. At first we thought it must be her until we checked the date only to find that this Ellen was buried some two hundred years previously. This led us to check the Births, Marriage and Death records which confirmed that an Ellen Sharples had died early 1849 in Bristol – this must be the right one. So next we checked the Bristol newspaper for that year and bingo, we found her funeral details – quite a funeral it was too. It just goes to prove that you shouldn’t always believe what you read on the web and that you must check it out for yourself!
Bristol Mercury – Saturday 24 March 1849
The late Mrs Sharples:- The funeral of this lady whose death is recorded in this day’s obituary, and whose memory deserves to be cherished by every lover of the fine arts in this city as long as Bristol endures, took place on Wednesday last, at Clifton church. Many of our readers will recollect that some five years since Mrs. Sharples presented to the trustees of the Bristol Fine Arts Academy the sum of £2000, for the purpose of founding and supporting that institution; and it now appears from the deceased lady’s will that, after deducting certain bequests and legacies, the residue of her property is bequeathed to the academy. We may, therefore, reasonably hope that ere long we shall witness in our city the erection of a building exclusively devoted to art, which shall be an enduring monument of the munificence of the deceased, and one of the architectural glories of Bristol. The funeral procession left St Vincent’s parade, the late Mrs Sharples residence, about 11 o’clock in the forenoon, in the following order:-
Chariot containing the officiating minister, the Rev. J Hensman,
Mourning coach, in which were J.S Hardford Esq, President;
P.W.S Miles Esq.,
The High- Sheriff, and G.H Ames, Esq., the Treasurer of the Fine Arts Academy;
The Hon. Secretary, Jere Hill, Esq., and Robert Bright, Esq one of the trustees of the academy, followed on foot, together with the members of the committee, and nearly all the resident artists of Bristol, in deep mourning
The private carriages of the High-Sheriff, of P.W.S Miles, J.S Harford and G.H Ames Esqrs, closed the procession.
We hope in our next to be enabled to give a few particulars of the history of the deceased, and of her talented daughter, who died some years since, and many of whose paintings have now become property of the Bristol Academy
There have been numerous newspaper reports since Ellen’s death relating to the Academy, but one that stood out was in the Bristol Mercury, Saturday 20th May 1882 which confirmed that Ellen left a legacy of £4,500 to the Academy along with 97 pictures. The article went on to criticize Bristol for its lack of interest in the arts, demonstrated by the lack of donations made and worries about the future of the Academy. A previous article dated 19th February 1853 gave the amount of her bequest as being £6,000; the article also said that the Academy should be for the sole use of artists and no-one else which caused problems as others felt that such a building should be made available for everyone to use; it’s not clear what the outcome of this debate was.
We will of course continue with our research and provide updates as and when we find out anything more about the family.