Storer, Anthony Morris (DNB00)


STORER, ANTHONY MORRIS (1746–1799), collector and man of fashion, born on 12 March 1746, was elder son of Thomas Storer of Westmoreland, Jamaica (d. Golden Square, London, on 21 July 1793, aged 76), who married Helen, daughter of Colonel Guthrie. Anthony was at Eton from about 1760 to 1764 with C. J. Fox and Earl Fitzwilliam, and some sets of Latin verse by him are in the ‘Musæ Etonenses.’ His ‘sense and good nature’ while at school are lauded by the fifth Earl of Carlisle in ‘Verses on his Schoolfellows,’ 1762. About 1765 he proceeded to Cambridge, probably to Corpus Christi College, and was a close friend there and at Eton of Lord Carlisle, but left without taking a degree.

Storer then blossomed in the gay world of London, becoming conspicuous as the best dancer and skater of his time, and beating all his competitors at gymnastics. He excelled, too, as a musician and a conversationalist. Like most of his school friends, he was both a man of fashion and a whig in politics. During 1778 and 1779 he was in America with Lord Carlisle and William Eden (afterwards first Lord Auckland). He visited Carlisle when lord-lieutenant of Ireland in 1781, and, through his interest, succeeded Benjamin L'Anglois as a commissioner of the board of trade on 26 July 1781. Meanwhile he sat in the House of Commons as M.P. for Carlisle from 1774 to 1780, and subsequently—from 1780 to 1784—for Morpeth. Much of his time was passed with the family of Lord North, and in August 1782 he was a medium of communication between that nobleman and Fox. He enlisted under the ‘coalition,’ and in September 1783, greatly to the indignation of Gibbon, who was also an aspirant to the office, he was sent by Fox to Paris as secretary of the legation. On 13 Dec. 1783, when the ambassador, the Duke of Manchester, came home, he was nominated as minister plenipotentiary, but six days later his friends were ejected from office. His connection with politics then ceased. He had by that time quarrelled with Carlisle, to whom he revoked a bequest of all his property, and did not seek re-election for Carlisle's borough of Morpeth after the dissolution of 1784.

In September 1781, according to Horace Walpole's testimony, Storer was seized with a passion for collecting books and prints. These expensive tastes and the love of cards kept him in comparative poverty until his father's death. In 1786 he was reading the Latin and Greek writers half the day with Dr. Edward Harwood [q. v.], whose ‘View of the Classics’ was greatly improved, in its fourth edition, from Storer's library. He was desirous in December 1787 of entering the diplomatic service, and in April 1793 he languished for employment; but his father's death in the last year brought him an ample fortune. He purchased Purley Park, between Pangbourne and Reading, and, with the advice of Humphrey Repton [q. v.], expended a considerable sum in improving and ornamenting the grounds. His health was bad; he had been very ill in the winter of 1787–8, and he did not live to complete the house for the estate. But the sum of 20,000l. was set apart by his executors for that purpose, and the present mansion, ‘a large square stone building,’ was erected from the designs of Wyatt (Britton and Brayley, Beauties of England and Wales, i. 175). He died ‘of a deep decline’ at Bristol Hotwells on 28 June 1799, and was buried at Purley, a monument by Nollekens, with a Latin inscription, being erected to his memory in Purley church. His fortune was left to his nephew, Anthony Gilbert, the only son of his brother Thomas James, who had married the Hon. Elizabeth Proby, daughter of the first Lord Carysfort. The only other legacy was the sum of 1,000l. to James Hare [q. v.]

Storer was elected F.S.A. on 11 Dec. 1777, and became a member of the Dilettanti Society on 18 April 1790. His library was rich in old classics, rare books of history and travels, and antique bindings, and it contained two undoubted Caxtons and ‘Les fais du Jason’ (Life of Caxton, 1863, ii. 19, 88, 94). Many of his books were illustrated with prints by himself and drawings by various artists, his copy of Granger being amplified into many large folio volumes. He left his complete library, with the exception of such works as they already possessed, to Eton College, and he also gave the college his beautiful collection of prints. Many sprightly letters by Storer are printed in Jesse's ‘George Selwyn’ (vols. iii. and iv.) and in the ‘Correspondence of William Eden, Lord Auckland.’ Mathias, among others, praises his literary attainments (Pursuits of Lit. Dialogue iv.).

Storer's portrait, a full-length, with an engraving in his left hand, was painted by Sir Martin Archer Shee [q. v.] It remains at Purley, the property of Major Storer. Another portrait of Storer hangs in the college library at Eton.

[Gent. Mag. 1799 ii. 626, 1800 ii. 689; Gibbon's Letters, ed. 1896, ii. 67–8, 86–7; Notices of Soc. of Dilettanti, p. 123; Leslie and Taylor's Sir Joshua Reynolds, ii. 124, 146; Eton Loan Coll. 1891, pp. 3, 5, and 6; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. vol. iii., s. v. Eton Coll. Libr.; Walpole's Letters, viii. 51–2, 125–6; Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, ii. 660, viii. 657, ix. 508–10; Jesse's Selwyn, ii. 129, iii. 74–6; Rev. J. Richardson's Recollections, ii. 93–4; information from Major Storer of Purley.]

W. P. C.