Charlton Nesbit


Charlton Nesbit was born in Swalwell in 1775 and became an apprentice in 1790 to Thomas Bewick, Master Wood Engraver and Bewick's mentor -  Ralph Beilby. He completed his apprenticeship in 1797 (seven years!!). During his apprenticeship  he gained two premiums at the Society of Arts, after which he moved to London where he established his own extensive practice. He returned to Swalwell in 1815 and lived in the village until 1830 when he returned to London. He died in Brompton (London) in 1838, and is buried in the local cemetery there.

Although almost forgotten today, Nesbit was a master of his craft and many of his engravings can still be viewed in some of the books mentioned below. Although overshadowed by Thomas Bewick, Nesbit ran a very successful business and his name appears frequently wherever Thomas Bewick is mentioned.

He  produced  two vignettes which were used in the book British Land Birds which was published shortly after the end of his apprenticeship.



                    A Nest                                                       A Hovel before some Ruins

He has also been attributed to producing vignettes for Rabbie Burns'  'Tam O'Shanter and Souter (cobbler) Johnny' published in 1830 (also shown below) and George Marshall's 'Epistle in Verse Between Cynthio and Leonora' - a journey to and from the East Indies (SE Asia), published in 1812

The Amity in Great Distress (Cynthio and Leonora)

The former is contentious as Thomas Bewick also had this vignette attributed to him. Bewick however, was known to use the work of his apprentices under his own name so I am sticking with our own Charleton Nesbit!!


During his time in London he produced illustrations for 'Hudibras' and 'Shakespeare' literary works of Sir Egerton Bridges, 'Ackerman's Religious Emblems' , 'Northcote's Fables' and inter alia, engravings for a Cinderella book in 1808 (see below).

(Image; Tam O Shanter & Souter (cobbler) Johnny)


In 1799 he engraved a large cut, containing a view of St. Nicholas' Church, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, from a drawing by his fellow apprentice, Robert Johnson. For this cut, which is one of the largest that had ever been engraved in England, Nesbitt received a medal from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures. (Pic below)

St Nicholas Cathedral -- an award winning engraving by Charlton Nesbitt

Nesbitt's award winning wood cutting of St Nicholas Cathedral in Newcastle.

Below are the pictures from Nesbitt's cuttings for the 1808 edition of 'The Glass Slipper', better known today as 'Cinderella'

The Glass Slipper Cinderella The Ugly Sisters
Dressing for The Ball Leaving for The Ball The Fairy Godmother Appears
Cinderella is Transformed Cinderella Goes to The Ball Cinderella Meets The Prince
Cinderella Runs from The Ball at Midnight Trying on The Glass Slipper Cinderella Marries The Prince

Nesbitt's best cuts are to be found in "Religious Emblems," published by R. Ackermann and Co., 1808; Savage's "Decorative Printing;" Northcote's "Fables," Second Series; and in the edition of White's "Selbourne," published by Baldwin and Cradock in 1834. The following images are taken from 'Religious Emblems'.

The Joyful Retribution The World Weighed
The Daughters of Jerusalem Wounded in the Mental Eye
Awaiting the Dawn or Day-Spring Sinners Hiding In The Grave
Hope Departing Squire & Warwick Printers' Logo

Following are some of Nesbit's cuts from the book 'Hobbinol' printed in 1813

'In The Stocks' from Hudibras









                    A Boy

I would be very interested in receiving any further information about this almost forgotten character who was clearly quite famous in his day. 







Copyright 2001-2013 David Newton