These ewers are en suite with a pair of 17-inch Kirk salvers with the same inscription, sold from the collection of Roy and Ruth Nutt, Sotheby's New York, January 24, 2015, lot 385. William Ogilby was born in Ireland in 1783. He served as Vice-Consul at Caen, France from 1826 to 1829, then was posted to Charleston in late 1829 or early 1830.
His diary of about 1830 is at the South Carolina Historical Society, and records events such as a hurricane in August, of that year, when he thought his "house would come down about [his] ears." In his official capacity he produced reports on shipping, immigration, poor relief, and cotton and rice production, and handled the imprisonment of free British subjects of color who arrived in South Carolina ports. In 1833 he observed that the citizens were arming themselves and discussing nullification, and he worried that an attack on Federal installations might be imminent.
In the early 1840s, Ogilby was writing to London about the controversy over the accession of Texas as a slave state, and his worries that Secretary of State John C. Calhoun – whom he met in Charleston - would pursue this “even to the length of a division [of the republic];” he also suspected Southern politicians of fanning anger against the abolitionist British government. In lighter moments, he sent local species to the Zoological Society in London: seven living Water-tortoises in 1841, and a Virginia opossum in 1844. By 1845, though, he requested retirement on account of ill-health, after 23 years of service.
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