An infusion of Scotch: The Scottish neoclassical mantle and its Federal American cousin

David J Black

David J Black is an author, journalist, and playwright based in Edinburgh and the USA. He is currently working on his forthcoming book on Scots in America, 1600-1850.

As they travelled around the United States the Listons met many fellow Scots. This essay explores Scottish-American connections in the fields of trade, education, medicine, and architecture. Its particular focus is Scottish craftworkers and artisans who were working in America in the colonial and post-colonial periods.

I hope to persuade you that an object we might normally assume at first glance to be a fairly commonplace consumer product — the Georgian ornamented wooden fireplace — is in fact one of history's great cultural breakthroughs. Just as the invention of printing made literacy and the dissemination of the written word the driving force of the European Renaissance, so did something as everyday as the ornamented timber mantelpiece make the rational principles of classicism available to a much broader spectrum of society than an exclusive wealthy elite.

As an expression of the democratization of taste the Adam brothers' neoclassical mantelpiece had a particular significance in the emergent United States, where it is still referred to as the 'Federal Mantel.' This was especially the case in Charleston, which to this day has an impressive heritage of timber classical fireplaces, many of them imported from Scotland.

An Adam mantel hardly compares with a Gutenberg bible, yet it suited the mood of a new nation which was comfortable with the idea of middle class cultural aspiration and believed in the diffusion of aesthetic awareness. Even in Britain, where there was a more conservative attitude as to who might, or might not, have access to what could loosely be termed 'high culture', society was changing as the growing professional and mercantile classes challenged the assumed superiority of the rich aristocratic 'beau monde'.

As advances in technology made it possible to produce low-cost goods for a growing market industrialists exploited their opportunities. Birmingham's Matthew Boulton with Glasgow engineer James Watt developed die-stamped metal ornament. Josiah Wedgwood's Staffordshire potteries mass-produced hard paste ceramics. Both worked with designers associated with the Adam brothers, whose 'corrected' neoclassical style dominated late 18th century fashion.

The ornamental timber chimney piece we associate today with Robert and James Adam was a quintessential product of its time. When the brothers arrived back from their separate tours of Italy a building boom was transforming Britain's cities. Washington DC, Charleston, and Boston soon adapted the fashionable principles of neoclassicism to the new 'Federal' style favored by such architects as Charles Bulfinch and Samuel McIntire.

This was about more than taste or fashion. The social revolution on both sides of the Atlantic meant that the middle classes might aspire to express their new-found cultural values through architecture and consumer products. As briefing paper 34 of the United States National Park Service states, 'the types of structures historically decorated with composition ornament were more democratic.'

The intention here is to consider the role of one man who was a participant in this revolution, and some possible reasons for his anonymity. His name was Richard Foster. Like Boulton and Wedgwood in England, and ornament makers George Andrews and Robert Wellford in America, Foster was selling classical culture to the middle class. He ran a thriving manufactory along lines which the Scottish economist Adam Smith would doubtless have approved of.

Today, the Adams are known for grand houses, but they also catered for this growing middle class demand. Indeed Robert Adam was praised for his 'zeal for promoting Taste among people of all Ranks' in a 1767 letter from Edinburgh Trustees' Academy, an institution largely funded by the revenues of confiscated Jacobite estates to instruct craft apprentices in 'the useful arts.'

By the 1770s there was no way the growing demand for mantels could be satisfied on the scale required by the laborious process of carving limewood ornament or Italian marble. The builders in booming Edinburgh, London, and Dublin, as well as American eastern seaboard cities like Charleston, wanted their fittings supplied on a fast-track basis, inexpensively, and in bulk.

The ornamental chimneypiece maker who, above all others, made this possible is almost totally forgotten. If Richard Foster ever had his portrait painted, it hasn't been found. Remarkably, his name, along with the little we know of his life, has only recently been unearthed from archival sources, yet he was a key player in what the Adams liked to call their 'kind of revolution'.

Foster was a man in the right place at the right time. Born in the Scottish Borders town of Canonbie in 1755 to Richard Foster senior and Frances Yeoman, we can reasonably speculate that he was the Richard Foster, aged fourteen, who had an account at Drummond's Bank in London. Significantly, the Adams and many of their craftsman banked with Drummond's. This suggests that Foster was an apprentice, or newly indentured journeyman, working in London when the Adams' most famous urban scheme, the Adelphi, was being fitted out.

The next we hear of him is as 'a joiner in Edinburgh's St Ninian's Row' in 1785, when he married Alison, daughter of Alexander Fortune, leather merchant of the Canongate, Edinburgh. At this time there were several chimneypiece makers in the city, like James Liddle of Candlemaker Row, who produced carved limewood ornament, rather than cast composition. A new technology started to emerge around 1770 when some mantels combined both carved and cast components, greatly accelerating the production process.

An interesting example of this mixed technique dating from the mid-1770s is one based on Sir Henry Bunbury's drawing, 'The Dance', much popularised as a print by Bartolozzi. A version, originally from Edinburgh, was bought by our company some years ago from fireplace specialists Alessandro's of New York. Its central panel is intricately carved in limewood, while other elements, such as the jambs with applied arabesque designs recalling the pilasters on the facade of Kenwood House or the Royal Society of Arts, in London, were of cast composition.

'The Dance' was popular partly because it told a good story. It depicted three celebrated beauties of the time, the Lennox sisters, daughters of the Duke of Richmond. The most notorious of the trio, Henry Bunbury's sister-in-law, Lady Sarah, was the subject of much gossip, particularly after she left her turf-obsessed husband and fled with her child and her cousin, Lord William Gordon, to Carolside, in the Scottish borders.

By the time 'the Dance' made it to America it had lost its link with this aristocratic scandal. For Philadelphia composition manufacturer Robert Wellford his output was about 'the rising merit of American artists' rather than any cultural link with the former colonial power, though the iconography was much the same, with the occasional variation. 'The Dance' was a perennial bestseller for Foster, Wellford, and several other chimney piece makers. In the case of the Harrison Gray Otis house in Boston and the Manigault House in Charleston the Bunbury trio even became a quartet to help fill out the space of the central panel. In 1803 Wellford charged George Read II of Newcastle, Delaware £1.6.3d for a center panel of the same quartet.

Foster may have trained in London under John Jacques, who supplied fireplaces to the Adams for Inverary Castle, and trained Philadelphia based Robert Wellford. It is possible, too, that he attended Edinburgh's Trustees' Academy in the late 1760s when the master was Charles Pavillon, a French artist who taught the 'useful arts' to craft apprentices and textile workers. It is possible too, though – given his age – unlikely, that he had lessons from the Academy's first master, William Delacour, who died in 1767, when Foster was twelve.

Jacques claimed to have invented cast composition — essentially a thermo plastic mix of chalk, glue size, and other additives heated up to a precise temperature then pressed into wood or brimstone molds. In reality, the process had been used for centuries. Such claims were not unusual amongst late Georgian craftsmen, who operated in a competitive environment, but if Foster had indeed trained under Jacques then he could certainly have developed a familiarity with the technology of casting which would later stand him in good stead.

Whether he trained with Jacques or not, Richard Foster was one of the most skilled chimney piece makers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, yet today he is forgotten. The 'RF' monogram on some of his designs has, until recently, been mistakenly confused with those of a firm of Victorian shipbuilders, Ramage & Ferguson, leading to much mis-attribution. His relative anonymity can perhaps be explained, at least in part, by the fact that as a mere merchant-artisan he didn't feature in such books as Boswell's Edinburgh Diaries. He seems never to have advertised, other than listing his name and address in the city street directories.

Even without formal instruction, as a rising artisan Foster would have had access to such books as Nicholas Wallis's The Complete Modern Joiner, or a Collection of Original designs in the Present Taste for Chimneypieces and Doorcases, with their Mouldings and Enrichments at Large, as well as Crunden's delightfully titled Joyners' and Cabinetmakers' Darling, and George Richardson's A New Collection of Chimneypieces. The technical ingenuity and consummate artistry of the best of Foster's output sets him apart from the general run of chimney piece manufacturers and marks him out as a well educated and talented innovator. Without doubt, there would have been some sort of association with the Adams who, as seasoned talent spotters, would certainly not have missed a man like Richard Foster.

Foster may have been obscure, but he certainly didn't live in poverty. He was prosperous enough to own a flat in Charles Street, near fashionable George Square, in Edinburgh's first Georgian extension, and appears to have owned his manufacturing workshops in the Old Mint — they are mentioned, at any rate, amongst the assets in his son's will, when a balance of £59 'due for property sold in the Mint' was recorded.

Richard Foster clearly had links with Edinburgh Trustees' Academy Drawing School which, for an unspecified period, also had rooms in the Old Mint – possibly the very rooms which became his workshops. From 1791 he was trading in both Britain and America, and by 1800 even had the means to guarantee a sizable mortgage for his brother-in-law. There can be little doubt that Richard Foster & Son was a flourishing and well organized manufacturing enterprise.

There are various ways of gauging the scope of Foster's business. In the 1794 bankruptcy of builder Andrew Neil he filed a claim for £78.16/-. Since he received £2.13.6d from Shipmaster George Smith for two chimney pieces for his house in Leith, while as 'Richard Forster in the Mint' he charged £1.15s for supplying another to a property on the High Street, this suggests that he had supplied Neil with around 50 chimney pieces. This may sound cheap, but relative incomes were low. In 1800 a shepherd was paid on average £16 ($22) per annum, for example.

Foster was also supplying other Edinburgh builder-architects including Robert Burn, developer of much of the East End of the New Town, and a prodigious builder, as well as an architect. His design for the Calton Hill Nelson monument became a popular Foster motif. Foster also seems to have supplied the Williamson brothers, who constructed much of the western side of the first New Town, and would later build the White House in Washington DC.

It's possible that Foster didn't particularly want a high profile for political reasons, especially during the war with France. The sedition laws were repressive and artisans viewed with suspicion by the authorities. 1790s Britain — Scotland included — had all the characteristics of a police state, and in matters of politics, circumspection was usually the wise option.

We don't know what his politics were, but we do know that his father-in-law Alexander Fortune was listed as a witness in the trial of the radical, Joseph Gerrald. Fortune never testified, but had probably attended Gerrald's 'illegal assembly' in an Edinburgh joiner's workshop when it was raided. The American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier later described this very event:

'the meeting was broken up. The delegates descended to the street in silence,—Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags glooming in the distance and night —an immense and agitated multitude waiting around, over which tossed the flaring flambeaux of the sheriff's train. Gerrald, who was already under arrest, as he descended, spoke aloud, ‘Behold the funeral torches of Liberty!'

Gerrald was sentenced to 14 years transportation to Australia. He survived barely five months.

Political dissent — like its counterpoint, establishment paranoia — was rife in Scotland, given defeat in America and the threat of French invasion. When news reached Edinburgh of the first major battle of the American Revolution, newly built St James's Square unofficially became 'Bunker Hill' in homage to an event which traumatized Britain's government. Remarkably, the leaders of a 1777 'Congress' of Edinburgh tradesmen formed to oppose the corruption of the council assumed such provocative nom-de-plumes as Washington and Jefferson.

Not only were Scots artisans, merchants, and craftworkers often sympathetic to America; many were living and working in the 13 colonies. George Walker of Falkirk, for example, advocated the development of the new national capital by the Potomac in The Maryland Journal along the lines of Edinburgh New Town. The Scottish stone carver James Traquair, who had first introduced the architect Benjamin Latrobe to Thomas Jefferson, also wrote to him about the Edinburgh builder, Alexander Crawford, as a 'warm frind (sic) to America.' Crawford died before he could emigrate, but many others made the journey to Washington DC — particularly members of operative lodge No 8, which was something of a recruiting ground.

Collen Williamson, the builder whose name was engraved on the brass plate set into the foundation stone of the White House alongside that of George Washington, was an example. He was a cousin of John Suter, owner of the Fountain Tavern in Georgetown, where the commissioners for the District of Columbia held their meetings. Prior to setting out for America Williamson and his brothers had overseen the completion of a substantial house in Edinburgh's Queen Street for General Ralph Abercromby, a national hero noted for – amongst other things – refusing to take up arms against America's rebels.

Abercromby's house retains most of its original mantels, some marble, but most either timber and carved limewood or cast composition, including a popular 'fox hunt' example from Foster's workshop. The National Gallery of Scotland has a near mint condition version of the same subject in one of its administrative offices, and it recurs in the house of the Scottish merchant, William Blacklock, in Bull Street, Charleston, who was related to Foster by marriage.

Blacklock was not the only Scottish merchant in 18th century Charleston. Many, like him, were members of a Scots rural gentry which sent its surplus sons out into the world to make a living. Writing to his father in 1754 John Stewart, partner in the Hobcaw Creek shipyard, Stewart & Rose, stated that around two thirds of Charleston's merchants were Scots.

The goods Charleston's Scottish merchants were importing included household items such as earthenware and soap, shipments of books, textiles (especially linen), glass bottles, coal, plows, fireplaces, golf clubs and balls, paper, beer, seventeen thousand goose quills, and a printing press sent from Leith in 1766. It wasn't all one-way traffic. Scottish craftsmen had a high regard for 'Carolina fir' while there was a strong demand for Low-country indigo, turpentine, beaver pelts and deer skins.

Charleston was also home to many Scottish craftsmen. The historian David Dobson has calculated that of the sixteen cabinetmakers known to have been based in Charleston between 1790 and 1820 around two thirds were Scottish immigrants, while prior to the revolution there were at least thirty Scottish cabinetmakers, carvers, joiners, upholsterers, and chairmakers. Indeed a large proportion of the population of 18th century Charleston were either Scottish, or of Scottish origin, ranging from the colony's most notable governor, Sir James Glen, to a significant number of builders and architects, including Robert Mills. Due to a lack of reliable records it isn't possible to come up with an exact statistic, though the estimate of approximately a third of South Carolina's resident population being ethnically Scottish by historians Forrest and Ellen McDonald in the April 1980 edition of The William and Mary Quarterly could be accepted as more or less reliable, if only for lack of anything better.

A further Scottish-American link was the educational one. It was almost impossible for 18th century American colonials to enter England's two universities, Oxford and Cambridge, but Scotland was another matter. Benjamin Franklin was given an honorary degree by St Andrews, while Edinburgh's medical faculty alone had more than 100 American students during the second half of the century, including Benjamin Rush, who persuaded Scot John Witherspoon to become president of Princeton, and a fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence.

An earlier medical student in Edinburgh had been a young Bostonian by the name of Thomas Bulfinch. During his time there he had boarded in the home of university principal William Robertson, a cousin of the architectural Adams, who often visited. Thomas Bulfinch's mother had been painted some years before by the Edinburgh-born artist John Smibert, who had known the father of the dynasty, William Adam. After his emigration in 1728 Smibert had also practiced as an architect. Faneuil Hall in Boston is his best known work. The building would later be extended by Bulfinch's son, Charles, who — perhaps not surprisingly, given such links — developed a marked affinity with the 'Adamesque'.

Scottish architects and builders — like its schoolteachers and physicians — were an important element in American society both in the colonial and post colonial periods. St Paul's Chapel in lower Manhattan, for example, was designed by Thomas McBean, a pupil of the Aberdeen-born artist James Gibbs, whose published works were particularly influential in the 13 colonies. The 'Gibbs' steeple became more or less analogous with the American colonial church.

America's most important surviving Palladian mansion, Drayton Hall, on the outskirts of Charleston may also, in my view have been designed at least with the substantial input of a Scot, George Haig, who arrived in 1733, aged 21 – but that's a story for another day, and I daresay some will find it controversial.

As mentioned, the original timber and composition fireplaces in the White House were by the ornament maker George Andrews, originally from Dublin. These were lost when it was burnt by the British in 1814. Fortunately similar mantels by Andrews can be found nearby at the Octagon building (now the AIA headquarters) which the Madisons occupied after the British withdrew, as well as James Monroe's house on I Street, now the Arts Club of Washington DC.

Edinburgh artisans seem to have had marked sympathies for America's patriot rebels, and Foster, who was regularly exporting his products across the Atlantic, had another particularly intriguing American link. Politics apart, there was also the matter of religion.

The Fosters' daughter Euphemia married Secession minister Donald Fraser of Kennoway, in Fife, which suggests that the Fosters, though married within the established church in 1785, had become Presbyterian dissenters — another faction distrusted by the ruling establishment, and possibly a further reason for Richard Foster's obscurity.

Donald Fraser was a highly educated man. He had translated Witsius's 1681 Apostles' Creed from Latin and written biographies of his great uncle and great grandfather, Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine, founders of the Secession Church.

Fraser's uncle (and Ralph's son) Robert Erskine, geographer and mathematician, was a Fellow of the Royal Society in London and author of several scientific works. He emigrated to America in the early 1770s, and was appointed geographer and surveyor general to the Continental army by George Washington, who was said to have been at his bedside at Ringwood, New Jersey, when he died.

The detailed land survey of New York and New Jersey States which Erskine carried out with his fellow Scottish-American revolutionary, General Lord Stirling, and which Washington kept folded up in the pocket of his great coat, is now in the Morgan Library. It has been suggested that without the Erskine-Stirling survey these states would have been lost, which allows us to speculate, at least, that the uncle by marriage of the daughter of Richard Foster, chimney piece maker of the Old Mint, Edinburgh, may have helped save the American revolution!

Ringwood was damaged by fire in the early 19th century, though some items survived, such as Robert Erskine's grandfather clock. The mansion, later rebuilt by the Cooper-Hewitt family, also contains an interesting timber and composition fireplace, traditionally thought to have come from Peter Cooper's house at 28th Street and Fourth Avenue, New York City. Whether or not this oral tradition is correct, the fact remains that the classical fireplace in Ringwood's French drawing room typifies the output of Foster's Edinburgh workshop.

Another possible American link with the neoclassical mantel was a particularly rare center bas-relief panel, now lost, which may have been designed for 47 Bedford Square, London, by the Philadelphia-born artist Benjamin West in association with chimney piece maker David Ross of Portland Place. Ross's trade card was engraved by Michelangelo Pergolesi, one of the Adams' principal designers, whose arabesque' patterns were often incorporated into fireplaces. Masonic symbolism could also be found on chimneypieces, for those with knowledge to look, and the bull sacrifice design may have been of some emblematic relevance in this regard.

Whether or not it was by Benjamin West — who certainly had a penchant for painting mythical bulls — the bull-sacrifice example which survived in the piano nobile of the centre house in Bedford Square until removed in the 1970s could perhaps be reference to the sacrifice of 22,000 oxen at the dedication of the Temple of Solomon. The house in question had particularly strong associations with Freemasonry.

Ross, Jacques, and — in the north of England — Thomas Wolstenholme of York, were accomplished craftsmen, but none could equal the technical and design virtuosity of Richard Foster & Son. Examples of Foster's work in North America can be found from Savannah Georgia, to Halifax Nova Scotia, where the old State Legislature, Province House, has several outstanding examples. Savannah's Hunter House, for example, (now demolished) had what was almost certainly a Foster made mantelpiece of the 'Shepherd's Boy' pattern.

Charleston has a particularly rich legacy of Foster mantels, possibly due in part to the relationship with, William Blacklock, who also had a 'Boy and Bird's Nest' fireplace in a principal room in his Bull Street mansion, as well as a 'Fox Hunt' similar to the one in General Ralph Abercromby's Edinburgh home at 64 Queen Street, Edinburgh.

The mantels in the quintessentially 'Adamesque' Blacklock house on Bull Street are straight out of Foster's repertoire. So, too, are several in the Gaillard Bennett house, Montague Street, while a 'shepherd's boy' dining alcove frame in Charleston museum, and a 'lady with anchor' mantel in Gold's antique shop on King Street, were undoubtedly from Foster's Edinburgh workshops.

Other Charleston mantels, such as those in Dock Street Theater and the Gaulart and Maliclet restaurant on Broad Street were salvaged from demolished mansions, including the Radcliffe-King House on Meeting Street and Belleview Plantation on the nearby Wando River. It is likely that the frames of these were American made, but the ornamentation, which included the thistle and rose motif in one of the Broad Street examples, was typical of Foster's output. As far as America's 'Adam' fireplaces were concerned there was a dual trade operating. The mantels themselves were sent over in the holds of returning rice, indigo, and tobacco ships to such outlets as Herbert & Potts of Alexandria and Leger & Greenwood of Charleston.

Cast ornament were also being shipped out for use on American made frames. The inventory of goods compiled on the death of Federal architect Samuel McIntire included such imported ornamentation. There is no record as to the origin of the McIntire items, however in a number of cases, such as a mantel in the Pierce-Nichols House in Salem, they correspond closely in scale and design with the bas-relief ornamentation from Foster's workshops.

This isn't to say Foster designs weren't being pirated by others, which was undoubtedly the case. The fact that highly esteemed makers such as George Andrews expressly maintained that they were originating their own patterns suggests that others weren't, and piracy was common.

The temptation is understandable, for as far as its artistic sources were concerned Foster's repertoire was outstanding. In addition to Bunbury's The Dance, his patterns included designs by the sculptor John Flaxman, such as The Four Seasons which Flaxman himself had derived from the ancient Roman Marlborough gem, and Angelica Kauffmann's Cupid Distressed by the Three Graces which was also a porcelain group by Spengler, reproduced by Boulton as a 'mechanical painting' for Adam ceiling panels, and engraved by Ryland for prints and fans.

The triple spire design relates to a 1796 drawing of Lichfield Cathedral by J M W Turner, who trained as an architectural draughtsman and was taught drawing by Dr Thomas Monro, whose father's Bedford Square house had fireplaces by Foster. These disappeared in the 1970s.

Foster designs were endlessly adaptable. His Plowboy and horses, which could, on stylistic grounds, be attributed to the carver William Collins, occurred in both composition and marble — George Washington fretted over whether the marble mantelpiece in the dining room at Mount Vernon, which features the 'plowboy' motif, would suit his 'republican style of living.' 'Contemplation' was used on Carron grates and composition fireplace ornament, as well as an overdoor in Boston's Harrison Gray Otis House.

There were further classical allusions. Foster's eagle was based either on Walpole's antique 'fowel' from the Baths of Caracalla, or possibly a version owned by Sir William Hamilton and known to David Allan, drawing master of the Trustees' Academy, for whom Sir William had a high regard, describing him as 'one of the greatest geniuses I have ever met with; he is indefatigable.' Allan and Foster certainly knew each other, given that after quitting its Old College rooms to make way for the new Adam building the drawing classes initially transferred to the rooms in the Old Mint which would later be Foster's workshops.

Perhaps most intriguing of Foster's designs is the one depicting Lady Emma Hamilton resting on an anchor as a ship sails into the distance. She had a similar role as Dido in a painting by Elizabeth Vigee Lebrun, as the ship of her lover, Aneas, sailed over the horizon. For some, this was a nod to her lover, Lord Nelson, setting out for Trafalgar and a heroic death. Yet Aneas was also associated in Jacobite minds with the exiled Stuart 'King over the Water.'

In the 18th century, an age of maritime warfare, the figure of 'Hope' looking out to sea for her lost love was a particularly evocative one. The legend of Dido was enduring and universal, with echoes down the centuries. One of the earliest examples of European bronze sculpture in the Americas was the statue of Isabella de Soto in Havana wistfully scanning the horizon for her husband Governor Hernando de Soto who was destined never to return from his expedition to the American mainland. Emma, with her anchor, was very much continuing this tradition. Since Allan was close to Sir William, as well as the first and second Lady Hamiltons, and Emma frequently posed for artists in her famous 'attitudes', he may have been responsible for introducing this particular tableau to his craft-worker students at the Trustees' drawing School.

Foster had no monopoly of the composition fireplace. The Dublin 'stuccadore' and London framemakers like David Ross produced many fine examples, while Andrews and Wellford were only two of many on the US eastern seaboard. In northern England, Wolstenholmes of York were producing high-quality fireplaces and other fittings ornamented with cast composition to cities and country villas throughout their region.

Whether there really was an affinity between the accessible neoclassicism of Robert and James Adam and their 'kind of revolution' in public taste, and the revolutionary principles being espoused in late 18th century America is not a question which invites an easy answer, yet it must surely account, at least in part, for the'Adamesque' sentiment which was not only embraced by such architects of the Federal era as Bulfinch and McIntire, but was later championed by such 'gilded age' champions of classicism as Edith Wharton, Charles McKim, and Stanford White.

We might even speculate that Robert Adam himself was not unsympathetic to the American cause. A monument in Westminster Abbey, designed ostensibly memorializes Major John Andre, the British officer hanged as a spy after being found with the plans of West Point in his boots, may provide a clue. In the tableau depicting his fate, attention is focused not on the victim, but on Washington. 'The British Magazine' excoriated this 'trophy to perpetuate the fame of General Washington — surely the brave ill fated Andre should have been the hero of the tale.'

This, the first portrait in marble of Washington, preceded Houdon's statue in Richmond by 15 years, but it would not last. The head of Washington was smashed off, and had to be replaced. An intriguing question remains, however. Was this a memorial to a British officer who had died in his country's service, or was it a homage by Robert Adam of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning to George Washington of Fredericksburg Lodge No 4?

I leave you with that thought.

Long reads