Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Thornycroft, Thomas

THORNYCROFT, THOMAS (1815–1885), sculptor, was born in Cheshire in 1815. He was educated at Congleton grammar school, and was afterwards apprenticed to a surgeon in that town. He soon tired of surgery, however, and was sent by his mother to London to study under John Francis (1780–1861) [q. v.], the sculptor. In Francis's studio he met his daughter Mary [see Thornycroft, Mary], whom he married in 1840. After a visit to Italy and a stay of some months in Rome he returned to London with his wife, and established himself in a studio in Stanhope Street, Regent's Park. His work as a sculptor was, however, somewhat desultory, and a large share of his attention was given to mechanical projects. In early youth he formed a friendship with Thomas Page [q. v.], the engineer, which had much influence on his after life. He set up an installation for electro-bronze casting in his studio, where also he worked at models of railways, engines, steamboats, &c., a taste which came out with increased strength in his son John. As a sculptor his chief works are the equestrian statue of the queen which was in the 1851 exhibition, a group of King Alfred and his mother, the statue of Charles I in Westminster Hall, equestrian statues of the prince consort at Liverpool and Wolverhampton, the group of Commerce on the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park, and the group of Boadicea and her daughters which was temporarily placed on the Victoria Embankment in the spring of 1898. In some of these works he was assisted by his son Hamo. Thornycroft died on 30 Aug. 1885 at Brenchley in Kent, and was buried in Old Chiswick churchyard.

[Times, 4 Sept. 1885; private information from Mr. Hamo Thornycroft, R.A.]

W. A.