Fry Family Archive
Samuel Metford silhouettes
The Fry Family belonged to the Quaker community and it is well recorded that early Quakers did not sanction portraiture, believing it to be vain. The plainness of black profiles was, however, acceptable to them and central to this extensive archive of family documents is a fine group of eight silhouettes cut and bronzed by the Anglo-American silhouettist Samuel Metford (1810-1896) who, as a Quaker himself, worked almost exclusively within that community.
The silhouettes cover four generations of the Fry family who lived at Woodgate, Culmstock in Devon. The Metford silhouettes are all signed and are further inscribed on the reverse with the sitter’s name, the date, and often their height –
And her son:
And his son:
And their children:
The silhouettes are unframed and, bar the odd age-spot and slightly upturned corner, are in very good condition.
The boys were educated at the Quaker School of Sidcot. Edward moved to Ipswich where he too worked as a corn merchant. He married Annette Ransome from Jersey and with her had seven children. He died in 1892.
Lewis was apprenticed first to the grocery business of Josiah Newman in Cirencester and then in Leominster. He married Mary Cruickshank from Aberdeen but they had no children. Lewis was appointed to take charge of the Rowntree apprentices and assistants, but the strain proved too much for his health and in 1870 he moved to Newcastle where he was an accountant to a leather manufacturers. He is said to have given vocal ministry frequently in Newcastle Quaker meetings and taught in the adult school. He retired to Wensleydale in 1876, and died of pneumonia in 1908.
In the 1871 Census all three girls were unmarried and still living with their parents.
The silhouettes are accompanied by a treasure trove of family documents including, amongst much else:
Samuel Metford left England for the United States when just 24 years old. He became an American citizen and worked there for about ten years before returning to settle in Lancashire but he returned to the United States in 1865 for a couple of years before finally returning home to his native Somerset. Metford had no children (his wife became mentally ill shortly after their marriage) but he adopted a son within the Quaker community in the north of England. He died in 1896 in his 86th year.
Item Ref. 5750
Size: silhouettes, 248 x 192mm (9¾ x 7½") and smaller