Hackney Museum’s online catalogue reunites relative with a portrait from his past

A portrait of an ancestor dating back to the 1800s was discovered by Australian Leanne Chilver, while looking at Hackney Museum’s new Collections Online catalogue.

Ms Chilver passed it on to her newly found UK cousin Steve Deamer, who lives in Edmonton. Mr. Deamer contacted the Council and visited Hackney Museum to view the portrait of his great, great, great, great grandfather, John Burton last week.

He 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.”

Councillor Jonathan McShane, Hackney Council’s 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.”

The painting of John Burton, Esq of Clapton, by W. Denny is part of the Chalmers Collection of paintings and is currently housed at the council run Hackney Museum. John Barton was a timber merchant and overseer and churchwarden of the St. John s Parish. To see the painting visit, just type John Burton into the search field.

The Chalmers Collection of over 100 paintings and decorative arts objects was assembled by Alexander Chalmers, a Stoke Newington banker who left his collection to his local borough, Stoke Newington in 1927. It was later transferred to Hackney Council when the London Borough of Hackney was formed in 1965.

In addition to the Chalmers art collection, Hackney Museum now has over 7000 objects reflecting the local and international histories of Hackney’s communities. The collection spans from prehistory to the present day and you can see an ever growing selection of these objects online.

Anyone using Collections Online can easily find objects showing their local area as well as searching themed presentations. The Mapping the Change presentation includes material from earlier London Olympic Games, London 2012 items, and a range of responses to the games by local people, including interviews which can be played online. To search the collections go to

Collections Online is fully searchable by keyword or with advanced search tools for more indepth research. Advanced searching can be done by names, places in Hackney and worldwide, or by date. All the records are part of an easy-to-use system, including history files, images, audio and video.

The new state of the art system was provided by a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. With the help of the grant, Hackney Museum has been able to invest in the future and further improve the care and management of the collections held in trust for local people.

To find out more about Hackney Museum go to or contact or 020 8356 3500 to join the events mailing list.

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