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Wednesday, 23 April 2014
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William Hickey and Thomas Hudson

  Date: 1701 - 1779

Life at Cross Deep, Twickenham

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Thomas Hudson
Thomas Hudson
Hudson comes to Twickenham in 1753

Thomas Hudson (1701-1779), the portrait painter , was a son-in-law of Jonathan Richardson, and the master of Joshua Reynolds. He came to live in Twickenham in 1753 in a house in Cross Deep, a little upstream from Pope’s Villa, designed by Roger Morris. By 1755 his style of portraiture was going increasingly out of fashion, and he gave up painting in 1767. When Sir Joshua Reynolds moved into Wick House on Richmond Hill in 1772, Hudson was said to have remarked,
Little did I think we should ever have had country-houses opposite to each other.

Reynolds’ comment on hearing this, retorted,
Little did I think, when I was a young man, that I should look down upon Mr Hudson.
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Hickey family move to Twickenham 1755

A little further upstream from Hudson , the Hickey family moved into a new house on the site of the old Tanyard in 1757. While this house was building they stayed, from 1755, in Cross Deep Lodge, farther up the road towards Twickenham.

Joseph Hickey (c1712-94) was an Irishman, who came to England and practised as an Attorney and solicitor. Walpole referred to Joseph Hickey as the impudent lawyer, whereas Goldsmith thought him a most blunt pleasant creature.

A young tearaway

His seventh surviving child was William Hickey (1749-1830), a young tearaway, who spent long years in India, and lived to write his Memoirs.

The Hickeys and Hudson were now near neighbours. Hudson, therefore must have seen a good deal of young William, despite his time away at Westminster School. In 1761 during the Whitsun holidays, young William was back in Twickenham. In his Memoirs, William Hickey leaves the following description of Thomas Hudson then aged 60:

His figure was rather grotesque, being uncommonly low in stature, with a prodigious belly, and constantly wearing a large white bushy periwig. He was remarkably good tempered, and one of my first- rate favorites, notwithstanding that he often told me I should certainly be hanged.

William frequently played tricks on the old gentleman, on one occasion kicking the stick away from under him as leaned on it whilst talking to Joseph Hickey. Down came poor Mr Hudson upon his fat paunch. William took to his heels, and only escaped severe punishment from his father because Hudson in a fury flung a heavy stick at William’s head, missing it narrowly. William then apologised and he claimed that he was readily and kindly forgiven. Perhaps.

Other near neighbours suffered from young William’s pranks, including Sir William Stanhope in Pope's Villa and Mr Hindley, who had inherited Radnor House in 1757. One of these involved a simulated drowning from Mr Hindley's canoe, which caused temporary consternation. Acquiring a small wherry of his own he became accustomed to row himself up to London from time to time and on one occasion he was given a tow home by the Fishmongers, out for a celebration in their barge. They entertained him with far more food and drink than he could accommodate and he spent the night, insensible, at Richmond.

Fortunately for the neighbours the young terror was more often than not in London, until his departure for India aged 19. Hickey's wife died in 1768 and, devastated by this, Hickey gave up the house in Twickenham. Joseph Hickey is buried in St Mary’s churchyard, as is his wife and son, also Joseph (who died in 1827) and certain other members of his family. The actual date of William's death is unknown, but his burial was recorded on 10 February 1827 at St John the Evangelist, Smith Square, Westminster. Prior to his death he had been living nearby in Holywell Street.
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Further reading:

Anthony Beckles Willson, Mr Pope and Others at Cross Deep, Twickenham, 1996
Dictionary of National Biography
Memoirs of William Hickey, edited by P.Quennell, 1960
Thomas Hudson 1701-1779, Bicentenary Exhibition catalogue, GLC 1979
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His figure was rather grotesque...and constantly wearing a large white bushy periwig...


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