Australian finds portrait of posh relative - in Hackney Musuem

An Australian researching her family tree tracked her roots to Hackney and found more than she bargained for – a portrait of her posh ancestor hanging in Hackney Museum.

Leanne Chilver had only recently found a long-lost cousin living in North London, and when she stumbled across the image online she sent her relative to see the painting in person.

Steve Deamer jumped at the chance to come face-to-face with his great, great, great, great grandfather, John Burton Esq of Clapton, for the first time.

Mr Burton had been a timber merchant, as well as overseer and churchwarden of St. John’s Parish. He sat for his portrait, which was painted by W.Denny, in 1849, when he was 86 years old.

His descendent, Mr Deamer, said: “I couldn’t believe it when my cousin found it on Hackney Council’s website.

“I have gathered so much over the years on the Burtons, but for me, after many hours of research, this is the cherry on the cake. I’d love to be able to hang the picture in my house!”

Mr Deamer’s cousin had managed to view the painting herself thanks to Hackney Museum’s new Collections Online catalogue, which allows visitors to see any of the 7,000 artefacts in the museum in Reading Lane.

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Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for community services, said: “We have some fantastic objects in our collection that showcase the wonderful stories from Hackney’s past.

“For someone to find a painting of their very great grandfather is amazing and shows why it’s important that the council makes its collections available to anyone who wants to see them.”

Collections Online is fully searchable by keyword or with advanced search tools for more in-depth research. To search the collections, visit