image ms_654_020_crop
Image number: RS.17960
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Portrait of Micaiah Towgood


late 18th century


Micaiah Towgood (1700-1792, British), Minister


Anker Smith (1759-1819, British), Engraver


John Opie (b.1761, British), Painter

Object type

Archive reference number




height (print): 200mm
width (print): 150mm



Oval half-length portrait of Micaiah Towgood, facing forward, his head tilted slightly to the left [as viewed]. He wears a dark overcoat and waistcoat with a white necktie and a wig. An ornate border frames the portrait.

Printed inscription below: 'J. Opie pinx.r Anker Smith. Sculp.r'
Handwritten: 'Rev.d Micaiah Towgood, Aetan 83.'

From The Priestley Papers, a volume containing portraits, drawings, letters and other memorials of Joseph Priestley, curated and edited by James Yates.

Miciaih Towgood (1700-1792) British author and minister was not a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) British theologian and natural philosopher, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766.

James Yates (1789-1871) British Unitarian minister and scholar was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1839. Though he never met Priestley personally, Yates knew many of his relatives, friends and pupils, and spent much of his career documenting his discoveries and writings.

Object history

During the planning of the new University Museum of Oxford in 1856, it was decided to commission several statues of famous scientists. One of these was to be of Priestley, and James Yates was invited to oversee its conception. In his own words, 'it became necessary to obtain the best portraits, busts and bas-reliefs to assist the sculptor in making a good likeness.' He also acquired reports of personal experiences and anecdotes from people who knew Priestley, and in 1864 assembled all of this material into this volume.

This volume was presented to the Royal Society in 1957 by the Priestley family.

Associated place

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