In 1762 the lawyer and journalist, Arthur Beardmore (1719–71), was arrested for publishing a seditious libel against Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha (d. 1772), the mother of King George III (r. 1760–1820). Inspired by his friend John Wilkes, Beardmore sued the government for unlawful arrest, winning the case in 1765. To commemorate the ruling, the engraver James Watson (1739–90) produced this print, portraying Beardmore at the moment of his arrest, ‘teaching his Son Magna Charta’. Based on a painting by Robert Edge Pine (1730–88), the image presents Magna Carta as akin to holy writ, reinforced by the quotation at the foot from Deuteronomy, ‘These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And though shalt teach them diligently unto thy children.’ 45 years later, in 1810, the politician Sir Francis Burdett (1770–1844) was similarly depicted teaching his son Magna Carta as he was arrested.
- Full title:
- Print of Arthur Beardmore, Common-Council Man of the City of London, Teaching his Son Magna Carta
- 20 May 1765
- Print / Image
- James Watson
- © Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
- Usage terms
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
- Held by
- The Royal Collection
- RCIN 650729
- Article by:
- Alex Lock
Dr Alexander Lock discusses Magna Carta’s relationship to parliamentary reform and to radicals fighting oppressive government. Find out how this medieval peace settlement was reinvented as a potent symbol of liberty and justice.