Merivale Family

Richard Stephens

The Merivale family were a Nonconformist Exeter family whose members knew Towne as their friend, travelling companion, drawing master and, ultimately, benefactor. James White introduced Towne to his old school friend John Merivale (1752–1821), who used an unexpected inheritance to create a small estate at Barton Place, north of Exeter, rather than follow the career of his father Samuel as a religious teacher. Towne taught drawing to John Merivale’s only son, the lawyer and poet John Herman Merivale (1779–1844), and his two daughters Frances Merivale (b.1786) and Nancy (1782–1815), although the latter’s work does not survive. Towne also taught Louisa Drury, who married John Herman Merivale in 1805. Ultimately, Towne bequeathed the residuary interest in his estate to John Herman Merivale, so that the family remained closely associated with Towne in the twentieth century, as they gradually sold off their collection of his work to museums and collectors following their departure from Barton Place in 1915 and after the death of Anna Merivale, the family’s historian and the last surviving child of John Herman Merivale. The principal vendors were two granddaughters of John Herman Merivale from Oxford, Judith and Maria Merivale, and their Devon cousin, Emily Buckingham.

About the author

  • Independent Art Historian


Article title
Merivale Family
Richard Stephens
Article DOI
Cite as
Richard Stephens, "Merivale Family", A Catalogue Raisonné of Francis Towne (1739-1816), (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016),

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