CLENNEL Eliza (1810 – 1846)


Situated in the Consecrated/West Section of Jesmond Old Cemetery.

Eliza was born in 1810 in Gray’s Inn Lane, Holborn, London, the first child of Luke and Eliza Clennel nee Warren. She was the oldest of four siblings, the others being, John Luke, born in 1813, Charles Warren, born in 1815, and Luke Thomas, born in 1818.

Eliza’s monument bears the inscription, “Sacred to the memory of Eliza, only daughter of the late Luke Clennel, the celebrated artist, who died Nov. 12, 1846, aged 36 years.” Charleton, in his series of articles on Jesmond Old Cemetery, printed in The Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, in 1886, writes, Of Eliza Clennel we know little, except that she was of a singularly amiable disposition, and beloved of the circle of friends in which she moved. But the great interest of this gravestone is that it forms a link which connects Jesmond Cemetery with another of our great North-country artists, and through him with perhaps the greatest of all, Thomas Bewick. Luke Clennel was one of the great wood engraver’s pupils, and did credit to his master in the art. He was undoubtedly a genius, as all who know his works will readily admit. We have not the space to enter into any description of them here, but it is interesting to note that he is said to have engraved a number of tailpieces in the second volume of Bewick’s “Birds”, from drawings by Robert Johnson, a fellow pupil. He also engraved a number of cuts in the “Hive of Ancient and Modern Literature.” He also executed engravings for Beattie’s “Minstrel”; Falconer’s “Shipwreck”; “Religious Problems,” published by Ackerman; Roger’s “Pleasures of Memory,”; Scott’s “Border Antiquities,” and many other well-known works. In his later years, he almost relinquished engraving for painting and designing, and many charming and powerful works he produced. It was while preparing sketches for a picture of “The Banquet of the Allied Sovereigns in the Guildhall,” a commission from the Earl of Bridgewater, in 1817, that his mind gave way, and his friends were forced to place him under restraint. Strange to say, his wife had before this died insane. He partially recovered, but never wholly regained his reason. During some of the later years of his life, he resided at St. Peter’s Quay, and while there, again became unmanageable, and was removed to an asylum, in which he died in 1843. He is buried in St. Andrew’s Churchyard, and in the church there is a tablet by R. Davies, sculptor, to his memory.”

Luke Clennel was born in Ulgham, near Morpeth, in 1781, the son of a farmer. He married the daughter of the copper-engraver, Charles Turner Warren. Interestingly, a different date of death is noted in the 1887 History of Newcastle upon Tyne, which stands as a warning to all history buffs to be wary of absolutely trusting the archives, where it states that Luke Clennel, in 1817, symptoms of mental derangement began to manifest themselves, and these gradually developed, necessitating his removal to the Newcastle Lunatic Asylum, where he died in February, 1840.” The same record notes that, “Luke Clennel, the celebrated painter and wood engraver, spent a portion of his boyhood with his Uncle in Morpeth. He early gave indications of an innate talent for pictorial art, and at the suggestion of a friend his uncle bound him apprentice to Thomas Bewick of Newcastle. Having completed his apprenticeship, he went to London, where his woodcuts obtained the gold medal of the Society of Arts and £100. He was equally successful as a painter, and carried off the prize of 150 guineas offered by the British Institution for the best picture of the “Final Charge of the Life Guards of Waterloo.”

Contemporary accounts of Luke’s life and work have altered the spelling of his surname to Clennell – another hazard for historians and genealogists to look out for!!