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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Henry Collins, Bellman, Winchester, 1823

by John Dempsey

At the time of Dempsey’s visit to Winchester in 1823, Henry Collins was employed as the corporation’s bellman and crier. After at least 15 years in the job, Collins was certainly a familiar face in the town. The bellman’s primary task was to ring the hours at 8 am and 4 pm. For this he was paid £2, an annual salary unchanged since the middle of the 18th century.

As well as topping and tailing the working day, the bellman occasionally had additional official duties. Collins’s accounts for 1818 and 1824 have survived, and make specific mention of public announcements that he made about water use, smallpox infections and fireworks (both for Guy Fawkes and Waterloo nights); and of bills he posted, from Corn Law regulations and annual market returns to the proclamation of shop closures to mark the death of the Princess Charlotte of Wales.

These extra municipal commissions paid only a few shillings each, so it must be assumed that Collins earned much of his living from running private and commercial messages. Nevertheless, the city did supply his hat, coat and bell, and the year following his portrait also bought him a horn lantern, supplied by the flexible Winchester tradesman George Muspratt, who described himself as ‘Furnishing Ironmonger, Coppersmith, Bell Hanger, Iron and Tin Plate Worker, Smith, Lock Smith, Stove and Grate Manufacturer, &c’.

Collection: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, presented by C. Docker, 1956

Beadles, bellmen and bumbles

Related information

Copeman, gardener, Great Yarmouth by John Dempsey
Copeman, gardener, Great Yarmouth by John Dempsey
Copeman, gardener, Great Yarmouth by John Dempsey
Copeman, gardener, Great Yarmouth by John Dempsey

Dempsey's people

A folio of British street portraits 1824–1844

Previous exhibition, 2017

Dempsey’s people: a folio of British street portraits 1824–1844 is the first exhibition to showcase the compelling watercolour images of English street people made by the itinerant English painter John Dempsey throughout the first half of the nineteenth century.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency