Inside Watermen's Hall, Monamy's large (35 x 44) painting of the waterman traditionally held to be the first winner of Doggett's Coat and Badge Race is dimly discernible on the right of the doorway. For over two decades I did not doubt that this painting was completed soon after the first race was held, 1st August 1715. The mockery that the picture excited at the 1983 exhibition effectively persuaded me that it was a naïve and relatively early work, and the date of the first race seemed to confirm this conclusion. However the idea that it might actually portray John Broughton, who won the race in 1730, leads to second thoughts. Moreover, the painting seems a good deal more skilled than was apparent to raucous Mrs Piggy, who was clearly a judicious, if noisy, connoisseur of fine art. Several pages on this site will need revision if the balance of evidence tips towards 1730. The trouble is that no documentation has yet been found for either the picture or the identity of the first winner. But see here: note, June 2009, which makes it virtually certain that the first formal winner was William Morris, as documented in 1722.

Signed Monamy; 33 x 42

The Watermen's Hall of the early 1700s is seen on the riverbank behind the oarsman. This is not the same building as the one shown in the sketch below, said to date from about 1670. Nor is it the same one as in an even earlier picture, dated to 1647. Earlier and later depictions of the hall are discussed on the next page. In 1780 the company's administration left the riverside and moved to completely new premises on St Mary's Hill, where I took a photo of Michael, below.

Said to show Watermen's Hall, circa 1670: but see here.

Michael Robinson, 1980
Watermen's Hall, St Mary Hill, London
  Print by T.H.Shepherd, about 1829  

William Hone's Every Day Book, 1864, Vol II, p.531, contains the assertion that "Broughton, who was a waterman, before he was a prize-fighter, won the first coat and badge."

I repeated this chronological impossibility in the photocopied handout which accompanied the printed catalogue for the Chichester Monamy exhibition in 1983.

Jack Broughton was a very considerable fellow, by all accounts, and he was indeed a waterman and a Doggett's winner, but in 1730, not 1715. So what date is the picture?

He died in 1789, aged 86, and is buried in Westminster Abbey. In 1715 he was therefore only twelve years old. The name of the first winner isn't known, but Monamy's painting could be an intended likeness. But, see here.

Could this be Broughton, aged 27? If so, the picture was painted after 1st August, 1730.
The mezzotint portrait, inset, is not recorded in either Ames, 1748, or Marshall, 1895.

Another mistake I made was to imagine that the white quadruped prominently shown on the back of the wherryman's passenger seat was the White Horse of Hanover. In fact it is obviously the fabulous monster of Scotland facing up, as usual, to the somnolent lion of England, and the arms are those of the old Watermen's Company. Once a careless mistake gets into print it is certain to be repeated; and this already has been.

wild white horse

Henry Humpherus, in 1859, started the chain of error by stating that Doggett's "impress of a wild horse" was "painted on the back board". Vol II, p.114. Here is Doggett's silver badge, with the "impress of a wild horse". The impress may be inspired by the Hanoverian white horse, but it isn't painted on the wherry's backrest.


From a sketch made in the 1740s.

      Tom Dogget, the greatest sly drole in his parts
In acting was certain a Master of Arts;
A monument left ---- no herald is fuller
His praise is sung yearly by many a sculler;
Ten thousand years hence, if this world lasts so long,
Tom Dogget will still be the theme of their song;
When Old Noll, with great Lewis, and Baubon are forgot,
And when numberless Kings in oblivion shall rot.

Written on a window pane in Lambeth on the 1st of August 1736

By 1736 the second Hanoverian, George II, had become almost as unpopular as Sir Robert Walpole.
The Opposition gathered round his son, Frederick, Prince of Wales, whom he hated.

More on Tom Doggett, his comic acting, his Coat and Badge race, his Whiggishness.

Doggett's Coat & Badge Winner, by Peter Monamy

watermen's hall two
broughton and doggett's coat & badge
more on thomas doggett
introduction       background
article 1981       article 1983
monamy website index


© Charles Harrison Wallace 2001, 2003, 2009, 2014
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