“Humphrey Chetham” by William Theed
Humphrey Chetham Humphrey Chetham

Theed’s sculpture (1853) of Humphrey Chetham (1580-1653), the seventeenth-century cloth merchant and philanthropist who became High Sheriff of the County of Lancaster, is of Italian marble with a Kendal marble pedestal. Manchester Cathedral. This monument, which was miraculously spared during the blitz (see the picture of it standing amid rubble in Wyke 8), is one of the finest in the city. As Benedict Read says, Theed's figure is "fully worked out in respect of its seventeenth-century costume" (164): Chetham has "an embroidered cap, ruff and ruffles, doublet, hose and a fur-trimmed cloak" (Wyke 17).

Left: Whole monument. Right: Schoolboy at base in the uniform of Chetham's Hospital. The school, founded by Chetham, is now incorporated into a well-known music school. Appropriately enough, the boy holds the Bible open at Psalm 112, and is pointing at verse 9, which praises the good, charitable man who "hath dispersed abroad, and given to the poor," and whose "righteousness remaineth forever." Beside the boy are his cap and another couple of books, also appropriate because Chetham's Library, part of this enlightened merchant's legacy, was "the greatest of all the early town libraries" (qtd. in Hartwell 68); it continues to function as a free reference library today (see "Chetham's Library"). The whole monument is a brilliant example of Theed's gift for "historical realism" (Greenwood).

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Photographs by the author. [The lower backgrounds of the second and third pictures have been digitally removed. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the images for larger pictures.]


"Chetham's Library." Chetham's Library. Web. 26 March 2012.

Greenwood, Martin."Theed, William, the younger (1804-1891)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. 26 March 2012.

Hartwell, Clare. Manchester. Pevsner Architectural Guides. London: Penguin, 2001. Print.

Read, Benedict. Victorian Sculpture. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1982. Print.

Wyke, Terry, with Harry Cocks. Sculpture of Greater Manchester. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2004. Print.

Last modified 8 November 2012