90 Years of Collecting | The Usher Gallery at 90: Fifth Decade, Sibthorp Family Collection

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 by The Collection  | Category: Art 

To celebrate the Usher Gallery's ninetieth year, Dawn Heywood explores the wonderful artworks collected in each decade it has been open.

1967-1976: Sibthorp Family Collection

During the 1960s and early 1970s the Hon. Mrs Dudley Pelham gifted and bequeathed various family portraits and personal belongings to the Usher Gallery.
Evelyn Elizabeth Waldo Sibthorp was the third daughter and co-heiress of Montagu Richard Waldo Sibthorp of Canwick Hall, Lincoln and his wife Mabel Albinia Sutton.  She married Major Hon Dudley Roger Hugh Pelham on 9th February 1907.  He was the fourth son of Charles Anderson-Pelham, 3rd Earl of Yarborough.

It is an interesting collection from several generations of a local gentry family, which had connections to Hertfordshire as well as Lincolnshire.  It is perhaps Charles de Laet Waldo Sibthorp who is the best known member of the family.  As the second son he joined the Army and served in the Peninsula but succeeded to the family property on the death of his brother Coningsby.  He had a colourful reputation, once having fought a duel with Dr Edward Charlesworth of the Lincoln County Hospital.  He was a colonel of the South Lincolnshire Militia and served as an MP for Lincoln between 1826-32 and 1835-55.  He is widely remembered for being one of the MPs who persuaded Parliament to reduce the allowance to be granted to Prince Albert and in so doing displeased Queen Victoria.  He was against the repeal of the Corn Laws, the expansion of the railway and the Great Exhibition, in short a self-confessed reactionary figure.  He was portrayed in several satirical sketches.  Charles amassed a large art collection but unfortunately it had to be sold after his death to pay off family debts.

The family portraits presented to the Usher by Mrs Pelham include those of Charles de Laet and his wife Maria Ponsonby Tottenham.  Amongst the personal objects are several commemorative pieces given to Charles including a large silver covered vase presented to him by the 'people of Lincoln', and a silver cigarette box inscribed for 'his diffusive charity and unwearied benevolence'. 

Alongside the family portraits Mrs Pelham gifted other paintings and engravings, family photographs and miniatures, including one of herself.  She also passed on family costume, such as christening gowns and baby shoes, family crests and objects including a writing case and a needlework box.


The Bailgate Independent is also covering this story in their monthly issue – http://www.bailgateindependent.co.uk/ Out now!


I have come to the conclusion that Lady Evelyn Pelham was a kind and generous individual.  My great-aunt, Edith Ashley, was lady’s companion to Lady Pelham between the World Wars. (and Edith’s brother was a chauffeur).  Lady P. gifted several personal items to her companion, and some of these have since eventually been passed down to my wife:  a pearl necklace and a pair of green glass vases.

Andy Clark

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