The mysterious Miss Stott

A handful of ancient Cypriot ceramics in the Leeds City Museum collection are recorded as having been donated by a Miss (or possibly Mrs) F.L. Stott, of Kirkstall, northwest Leeds.

Skyphos donated by Miss Stott © Leeds Museums and Galleries

Aryballos donated by Miss Stott © Leeds Museums and Galleries

Who was Miss Stott?

It’s rare to have a female donor; the names associated with the collection are, in general, overwhelmingly male. I’ve been trying to find out who Miss Stott was, and how she came by the pieces, though with limited success so far.

The original donation was to the Museum of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society, on the eve of its transfer to the City Council in 1921. The 101st (1920-21) Annual Report of the Council of the LP&LS records the donation, though in quite general terms:

101st Report of Council of LP&LS

This has been interpreted as giving a date of death of around 1920 for Miss Stott; however, extensive trawling of records (via Ancestry.co.uk – my new favourite site) has largely failed to find any likely candidates. Regarding the reference to a Mrs M. Smith, I’m guessing that ‘per’ means ‘through’ here, so it’s quite possible that Miss Stott died some time before Mrs Smith fulfilled the bequest. Unfortunately ‘Smith’ is a hopeless name to search for, without any further biographical information.

So at present Miss Stott remains an enigma. I’d like to think she was a pioneering female collector of antiquities, and perhaps an international traveller, though I suppose it’s more likely that she inherited them from a male relative. Still, I’ll keep searching!

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