Carr, William Holwell (DNB00)

CARR, WILLIAM HOLWELL (1758–1830), art connoisseur, was the son of Edward Holwell, apothecary of Exeter, who died at Exmouth on 28 March 1793, aged 66, by his wife, Isabella Newte. He was born at Exeter in 1758, and baptised at St. Martin's Church in that city on 4 April 1759, receiving the christian name of William after his uncle, the Rev. William Holwell, vicar of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, and prebendary of Exeter. He matriculated at Exeter College on 2 March 1776, and was elected to a Petreian fellowship on 30 June 1778. His degrees were: B.A. 1783, M.A. 1784, B.D. 1790. While holding his fellowship he obtained leave to travel abroad (30 April 1781), and it was during this foreign tour that he began to form his collection of pictures. The rich benefice of Menheniot in Cornwall became vacant in November 1791, and Holwell was instituted on 13 Jan. 1792, but he never resided at his living, and was said to have taken orders with the object of accepting this preferment. A year after his institution (14 Jan. 1793) he resigned his fellowship. On 18 May 1797 he married in London Lady Charlotte Hay, eldest daughter of James, earl of Errol, by Isabella, daughter of Sir William Carr of Etal, Northumberland, and in 1798 the estate of Etal became her property. She thereupon (20 Nov. 1798) obtained royal authority for herself, her husband, and her male issue, to take the name and arms of Carr, but she died in London on 9 Feb. 1801, three days after the birth of her only child, William Carr. A protracted lawsuit took place over the estate of Etal, but a settlement, mainly in favour of the rights of her husband and their child, was ultimately effected, and lasted until the death of the child at Ramsgate on 15 Sept. 1806. Holwell Carr died in Devonshire Place, London, on 24 Dec. 1830, and was buried at Withycombe Raleigh, near Exmouth. Throughout his life he was a patron and connoisseur of the arts. From 1797 to 1820 he exhibited at the Royal Academy, as an honorary exhibitor, landscape views of his own painting. His collection of pictures, principally of the Italian school, he left to the nation with the stipulation that a proper gallery should be provided for them. To Exeter College he gave in 1785 a picture, painted by himself, of Sir William Petre, and to the college library he presented the editio princeps of Homer, printed at Florence in 1488. He left 500l. to Menheniot parish for the education of twelve boys and girls as a memorial of his wife. In the church of that parish are monuments for himself and his wife.

[Gent. Mag. p. 370, 1831; Boase's Reg. of Exeter Coll. pp. lxv, 111–12, 200, 215; Parochial History of Cornwall (1870), iii. 313–14; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists, 1878, p. 71; Miscell. Geneal. et Herald, ii. 416–17.]

W. P. C.