I’m grateful to my fellow researcher Christine Hoey for sending me the link to a document describing the monument to Ann Champain in St Helen’s church, Abingdon. Apparently the memorial, dated 1804, for which Ann left instructions in her will (see the previous post) was (according to this writer anyway) ‘a lamentable figure of Hope on a Greek stela; an early and poor work by Sir Richard Westmacott, who could do far better even in his youth.’
As Christine notes, the same document also mentions a memorial, dated 1780, in the same church, to an Elizabeth Hawkins. The writer is rather more appreciative of this monument, sculpted by John Hickey of London, which she describes as ‘the large and best work by a sculptor much admired by [Edmund] Burke of whom he did the only known busts’. She concludes that the memorial to Elizabeth Hawkins is ‘of its kind…one of the finest monuments in England’.
Christine wonders whether Elizabeth Hawkins had any connection with either of the two wives of James Champain, both of whom had the maiden name Hawkins and both of whom were from Abingdon. I’ve found Elizabeth’s will, made in 1780, which gives instructions for her monument in St Helen’s church. In the course of a long will, she also leaves an annuity of five pounds to Ann Champain, daughter of Mr James Champain of Weymouth, Dorset, strongly suggesting a link with his family. Reference is also made in the will to William Hawkins Esquire and his ‘reputed’ and ‘natural’ children by his housekeeper, Elizabeth Blake. In an earlier post, I speculated that William Hawkins might also have been the father of James Champain’s first wife Hannah.