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Wynn Ellis

1790 - 1875

This person is the subject of ongoing research. We have started by researching their relationship to the enslavement of people.

Biographical notes

Haberdasher, politician, and art collector.

Summary of activity

Wynn Ellis, born at Oundle, Northamptonshire, was the son of Thomas Ellis and Elizabeth Ordway. In 1812 he established a flourishing business as a haberdasher, hosier and mercer at 16 Ludgate Street. In 1814 he married Mary Maria, daughter of John Smith of Lincoln. From 1831–4 and from 1839–47 he was an advanced Liberal MP for Leicester. On 24 May 1832 he voted for a committee to consider the abolition of slavery.

In 1836 he purchased the manor of Ponsborne Park, Hertfordshire, which he sold in 1875. He also owned Tankerton Tower, near Canterbury, which later came to be known as Whitstable Castle. He died at 30 Cadogan Place, his house in London.

In 1870 he presented to the Gallery style of Salvator Rosa, Tobias and the Angel (NG 811). On his death he left a number of legacies to schools and hospitals, and his collection of pictures to the nation, out of which the Gallery selected 94, with the remainder sold at Christie’s in May, June and July 1876.

Slavery connections

No known connections with slavery.

Abolition connections

On 24 May 1832 he voted for a committee to consider the abolition of slavery.

National Gallery painting connections

Donor: Wynn Ellis presented in 1870: style of Salvator Rosa, Tobias and the Angel (NG 811). The following paintings from his bequest entered the collection in 1876: Ludolf Bakhuizen, A View across a River near Dordrecht (?) (NG1000); Nicolaes Berchem, Mountainous Landscape with Muleteers (NG1004), A Man and a Youth ploughing with Oxen (NG1005), A Peasant playing a Hurdy-Gurdy to a Woman and Child in a Woody Landscape, with Oxen, Sheep and Goats (NG1006); Dirck van den Bergen, Two Calves, a Sheep and a Dun Horse by a Ruin (NG 984); probably by Bernardino da Asola, The Garden of Love (NG930); Jan Both, A Rocky Italian Landscape with Herdsmen and Muleteers (NG956), Muleteers, and a Horseman with an Ox and Goats by a Pool (NG957), A View on the Tiber, near the Ripa Grande, Rome (?) (NG958), Peasants with Mules and Oxen on a Track near a River (NG959); Dirk Bouts, Portrait of a Man (Jan van Winckele?) (NG943); Canaletto, Venice: The Feast Day of Saint Roch (NG937), Venice: A Regatta on the Grand Canal (NG938), Venice: The Doge’s Palace and the Riva degli Schiavoni (NG940), Venice: Palazzo Grimani (NG941), Eton College (NG942); studio of Canaletto, Venice: The Piazzetta from the Molo (NG939); Jan van de Cappelle, Vessels in Light Airs on a River near a Town (NG964), A Dutch Yacht firing a Salute as a Barge pulls away and Many Small Vessels at Anchor (NG965), A River Scene with a Dutch Yacht firing a Salute as Two Barges pull away (NG966), A River Scene with a Large Ferry and Numerous Dutch Vessels at Anchor (NG967); Claude, Landscape with Aeneas at Delos (NG1018); Gonzales Coques, Portrait of a Woman as Saint Agnes (NG1011); Associate of Corneille de Lyon, Portrait of a Man holding a Scroll and Gloves (NG947); Aelbert Cuyp, A Distant View of Dordrecht, with a Milkmaid and Four Cows, and Other Figures (‘The Large Dort’) (NG961), A Distant View of Dordrecht, with a Sleeping Herdsman and Five Cows (‘The Small Dort’) (NG962); Dirck van Delen, An Architectural Fantasy (NG 1010); after Carlo Dolci, The Virgin and Child with Flowers (NG934); Gerrit Dou, Portrait of a Young Woman (NG968); Probably by Willem van Drielenburgh, A Landscape with a View of Dordrecht (NG960); Karel Dujardin, Sheep and Goats (NG 985); Adam Elsheimer, Saint Lawrence prepared for Martyrdom (NG1014); Possibly by Pieter Franchoijs, Portrait of Lucas Fayd'herbe (?) (NG1012); Jan Fyt, Dead Birds in a Landscape (NG1003); Jan Gossaert (Jean Gossart), A Man holding a Glove (NG946); Jean-Baptiste Greuze, A Girl (NG1019), A Child with an Apple (NG1020); Wybrand Hendriks, Fruit, Flowers and Dead Birds (NG1015); Jan van der Heyden, An Architectural Fantasy (NG992), A Farm among Trees (NG993), An Imaginary View of Nijenrode Castle and the Sacristy of Utrecht Cathedral (NG994); Meindert Hobbema, A Woody Landscape with a Cottage (NG995); Jan-Baptist Huysmans, A Cowherd in a Woody Landscape (NG954); Jan van Huysum, Hollyhocks and Other Flowers in a Vase (NG1001); Italian, North, The Interior of a Theatre (NG936); follower of Joos van Cleve, The Virgin and Child with an Augustinian Canoness (NG945); Jan de Lagoor, A Woody Landscape with a Stag Hunt (NG1008); Filippino Lippi, An Angel Adoring (NG927); Lodewijck van Ludick, A River between Rocky Cliffs, with a Waterfall on the left (NG1007); Workshop of Marinus van Reymerswaele, Two Tax-Gatherers (NG944); Gabriel Metsu, Two Men with a Sleeping Woman (NG970); Style of Joos de Momper the Younger, A Music Party before a Village (NG1017); Aert van der Neer, A Frozen River by a Town at Evening (NG969); Follower of Isack van Ostade, An Inn by a Frozen River (NG963); Cornelis van Poelenburgh, Women bathing in a Landscape (NG955); Piero del Pollaiuolo, Apollo and Daphne (NG928); after Raphael, The Madonna and Child (NG929); Style of Salvator Rosa, A Coastal Scene (NG935); Rosso Fiorentino, A Knight of Saint John (NG932); Peter Paul Rubens, A Wagon fording a Stream (NG948); Jacob van Ruisdael, Two Watermills and an Open Sluice at Singraven (NG986), A Torrent in a Mountainous Landscape (NG987), A Road winding between Trees towards a Distant Cottage (NG988), Three Watermills with Washerwomen (NG989), A Landscape with a Ruined Building at the Foot of a Hill by a River (NG991); imitator of Jacob van Ruisdael, A Castle on a Hill by a River (NG996); Cornelis van der Schalcke, An Extensive River Landscape, with Two Sportsmen and their Greyhounds (NG974); Godfried Schalcken, An Old Woman scouring a Pot (NG997), A Woman singing and a Man with a Cittern (NG998), A Candlelight Scene: A Man offering a Gold Chain and Coins to a Girl seated on a Bed (NG999); Johannes Spruyt, Geese and Ducks (NG1013); David Teniers the Younger, A View of a Village with Three Peasants talking in the Foreground (NG950), Peasants playing Bowls outside a Village Inn (NG951); Imitator of David Teniers the Younger, Personification of Autumn (?) (NG953); Probably by David Teniers the Younger, A Gypsy telling a Peasant his Fortune in a Hilly Landscape (NG949); After David Teniers the Younger, A Country Festival near Antwerp (NG952); Titian or Titian workshop, A Boy with a Bird (NG933); Adriaen van de Velde, The Edge of a Wood, with a Sleeping Shepherd, Sheep and Goats (NG982), A Bay Horse, a Cow, a Goat and Three Sheep near a Building (NG983); Willem van de Velde, A Dutch Yacht surrounded by Many Small Vessels, saluting as Two Barges pull alongside (NG978), A Dutch Ship, a Yacht and Smaller Vessels in a Breeze (NG979), Boats pulling out to a Yacht in a Calm (NG980), Three Ships in a Gale (NG981); Studio of Willem van de Velde, Small Dutch Vessels in a Breeze (NG977); Pieter Verbeeck, A White Horse standing by a Sleeping Man (NG1009); Paolo Veronese, The Conversion of Mary Magdalene (NG931); Jacob van Walscappelle, Flowers in a Glass Vase (NG1002); Jan Wijnants, A Landscape with a High Dune and Peasants on a Road (NG971), A Landscape with Two Dead Trees, and Two Sportsmen with Dogs on a Sandy Road (NG972); Philips Wouwerman, A Stream in the Dunes, with Two Bathers (NG973), A Stag Hunt (NG975); Studio of Philips Wouwerman, Calvary attacking Infantry (NG976). A further painting by Sir Peter Lely, Girl with a Parrot was transferred to Tate (N01016).

Former owner: although not part of his bequest, he was a former owner of Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Colonel Tarleton (Colonel Tarleton, q.v.).

Sitter: Wynn Ellis is the subject of a marble bust by Robert William Sievier, which was presented to the NG by H. Churchill in 1878 (NG2239).


S. Harratt, 'ELLIS, Wynn (1790-1875), of 30 Cadogan Place, Mdx', in History of Parliament Trust (ed.), The History of Parliament: British Political, Social & Local History, London 1964-, 1820-1832,
Checked and foundItem on publisher's website

C. Matthew et al. (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford 1992-,
Checked and not foundItem on publisher's website

J. Turner et al. (eds), Grove Art Online, Oxford 1998-,
Checked and not foundItem on publisher's website

UCL Department of History (ed.), Legacies of British Slave-ownership, London 2020,
Checked and not foundItem on publisher's website