- Also known as
P T Brooke Sewell, Esq
primary name: Brooke Sewell, Percy Thomas
- individual; banker/financier; Norwegian; Male
- Life dates
- 1st March 1878-21st October 1958
- Percy Thomas Brooke Sewell was a merchant banker who admired the arts of India and the Far East and desired that they should be more worthily represented in the galleries of the Museum. He created two separate funds for this purpose, one by gift and one by will, which between them accounted for a value of about £1,000,000. These funds have given curators in the Department of Oriental Antiquities the means to acquire numerous items for the Museum. A banker by profession, working in the Baltic region. The Brooke Sewell Bequest, but not the gift (ie the Brooke Sewell Permanent Fund [q.v.]) can be used for the purchase of Japanese objects following a decision taken by Trustees under Lord Radcliffe in the early 1960s.
He lived permanently abroad and was visited only once (in Lausanne) by a member of the BM staff, Basil Gray (Keeper of OA), on the 10th April, 1956. Gray noted that he was told by Brooke Sewell that he had lived for twenty years in Norway and had been in Lausanne for thirty-one years (up to 1956), ie since about 1925 (1923 is the date mentioned, in newspaper reports of the memorial exhibition of his gifts to the BM, held in spring 1959). One source states that he left Norway after the election of the 'socialist government', after which he moved to Switzerland (1923?). This source goes on to say,
"In his early life he had worked for the Sewell family banking business, which had a specialized Baltic connection. He retired soon after the Russo-Japanese War , and probably moved to Norway not long afterwards" (letter from Dot. A. Strømme Svendsen, Prof. Skifartsøkonomi, Norges Handelshøyskole, Bergen, 1973).
Gray remembered Brooke Sewell had told him that he had spent time in France before moving to Switzerland (in about 1923).
His family was said to have been well-known in the paper-making industry in Norway from the late 19th century. The company's name is believed to have been Union Co. It was founded by P T Brooke Sewell's father, Benjamin Sewell (info from Pro Svendsen). The name Brooke Sewell is not hyphenated though the two parts have always been used together, both in correspondence between Basil Gray and Brooke Sewell, in legal documents associated with his gifts to the BM and in his own signature on letters in his lifetime to Gray et al.
His family is related to the Rajah Brooke family of Sarawak.
- David Wilson, "The British Museum, A History", London 2002. Jessica Harrison-Hall, "Catalogue of late Yuan and Ming Ceramics in the British Museum", 2001, p. 586; British Museum Triennial Report, 1966, p. 11.
"Benefactor's GBP 600,000 gifts to the British Museum. Exhibition of art treasures bought through Brooke Sewell Fund", The Times (London), Friday 10 April 1959 (issue 54431), pp. 8 and 24.