Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Painter, Edward
PAINTER, EDWARD (1784–1852), pugilist, was born at Stretford, four miles from Manchester, in March 1784, and as a young man followed the calling of a brewer. A quarrel with a fellow-employé in the brewery, called Wilkins—a man of heavy build—led to a formal fight in the yard of the Swan Inn, Manchester, where Painter quickly defeated his opponent, and showed unusual power as a boxer. After receiving some training under his fellow-countryman Bob Gregson, he was matched to fight J. Coyne, an Irish boxer from Kilkenny, six feet in height, and weighing fourteen stone. Painter weighed thirteen stone; his height was five feet nine inches and three-quarters. The men met at St. Nicholas, near Margate, on 23 Aug. 1813, when, after a fight of forty minutes, the Irishman was beaten. J. Alexander, known as ‘The Gamekeeper,’ now challenged Painter, and a contest for sixty guineas a side took place at Moulsey Hurst, Surrey, on 20 Nov. 1813. In the twentieth round the victory seemed falling to the challenger, but Painter, with a straight well-directed hit, stunned ‘The Gamekeeper,’ and became the victor. He was now deemed a match for Tom Oliver [q. v.], but in the fight, which took place on 17 May 1814, his luck for the first time deserted him. For a purse of fifty guineas he next entered the lists with John Shaw, the lifeguardsman, at Hounslow Heath, Middlesex, on 18 April 1815, when the height and weight of Shaw prevailed, after a well-contested fight lasting twenty-eight minutes. On 23 July 1817 Painter met Harry Sutton, ‘The Black,’ at Moulsey Hurst, and after forty-eight minutes found himself unable to continue the encounter. Not satisfied with the result, he again challenged Sutton to meet him at Bungay in Suffolk on 7 Aug. 1818. The event excited great interest, and, notwithstanding rainy weather, fifteen thousand persons assembled. There was a quadrangle of twenty-four feet for the combatants to engage in, with an outer roped ring for the officials. Outside this stood the spectators, several rows deep, and three circles of wagons surrounded the whole, giving the ring the appearance of an amphitheatre. In this encounter Sutton, although he fought with great spirit, yielded at the close of the fifteenth round. At Stepney, on 21 March 1817, Painter undertook for a wager to throw half a hundredweight against Mr. Donovan, a man of immense proportions, and beat him by eighteen inches and a half. He was equally good at running. On 7 Nov. 1817, on the Essex Road, in a five-mile race against an athlete named Spring, he ran the distance in thirty-five minutes and a half.
The well-known Thomas Winter Spring was the next to engage with Painter, the fight coming off on Mickleham Downs, Surrey, on 1 April 1818; when, after thirty-one rounds, occupying eighty-nine minutes, the newcomer was victorious. The same men were then matched to fight on 7 Aug. 1818, at Russia Farm, five miles from Kingston. In the first round Spring was floored by a blow over the eye, from which, although he continued fighting to the forty-second round, he never completely recovered. Painter now became landlord of the Anchor, Lobster Lane, Norwich, and intended to fight no more, but on 17 July 1820 again met his old opponent, Tom Oliver, at North Walsham, and on this occasion was the victor. It is remarkable that Painter in the first attempt was defeated by Oliver, Sutton, and Spring, but that in each case on another trial he proved to be the conqueror. For many years he lived at the Anchor, then removed to the White Hart Inn, Market Place, Norwich. He died at the residence of his son, ‘near the Ram,’ Lakenham, Norwich, on 18 Sept. 1852, and was buried in St. Peter's churchyard on 22 Sept.
[Miles's Pugilistica, 1880, ii. 74–88, with portrait, but the dates of his birth and death are both incorrect; Fights for the Championship, by the editor of Bell's Life in London, 1860, pp. 51–3, 55–7, 60–2; Fistiana, by the editor of Bell's Life in London (1864), p. 94; The Fancy, by an Operator, 1826, i. 393–400, with portrait; Bell's Life in London, 26 Sept. 1852, p. 7.]