Sherrin, Daniel (1869-1940)

Sherrin, Daniel (1869-1940)
Sherrin, Daniel (1869-1940)

Daniel Sherrin was an accomplished British painter of landscapes and maritime subjects. He spent the majority of his life in Seasalter, near Whitstable in Kent, where he became a local celebrity of repute.

His father, John Sherrin RI RWS (1819-1896), was a painter of delicate still lifes in watercolour and trained by the distinguished William Henry Hunt (1790-1864). However, it’s unlikely that he provided any early tuition for his son as he actively dissuaded the young lad from entering the profession. As such, Sherrin was instead apprenticed to Peter Moore, a draper in Canterbury, while using any spare moment to sketch. It’s reported that he’d rise at 4am and complete a painting before breakfast.

His artistic training beyond this point is unclear as several sources refer to him studying under Benjamin Williams Leader RA (1831-1923) although this is likely to be anecdotal rather than based on any facts. It’s plausible that he was actually self-taught and diligently studied from nature to hone his draughtsmanship.

While still a teenager, Sherrin was offered a substantial contract by a significant picture dealer in London. Working rapidly, he could produce an extraordinary number of works to order - an attractive proposition. Several dealers sought his services and perhaps it’s fair to say that the speed of his production led to a raft of works, which failed to demonstrate his true ability. Given the right motivation, his landscapes were on a par with those of many leading contemporaries. Such was his talent, that his views have often been confused with Leader’s (and occasionally signed B W Leader).

He had a skill for composition and often used tree-lined paths to guide the eye towards distant vanishing points. And like Leader, his more successful pieces feature saturated, rutted, cart tracks and shimmering pools of rainwater.

Away from his easel, he developed a reputation as an eccentric prankster. His antics were reported regularly by the press and included building an aeroplane in his garden, sleeping in a coffin, and stopping a train by his house, which backed onto the tracks. He was dubbed the ‘Mayor of Seasalter’ and dressed in a range of creative outfits. His wild personality also led to numerous appearances in court and, according to the press, he was a heavy drinker.

Daniel Sherrin was a remarkable character and remains underrated due to the erratic nature of his production. On his day, he could produce naturalistic works of the highest order - fit for any exhibition. A close friend remarked that he “lived to paint”.

He’s represented in numerous public collections including the Royal Collection Trust and the Imperial War Museum in London.

Public Collections

Royal Collection Trust, Imperial War Museum in London, Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, Bury Art Museum, Canterbury City Council Museums and Art Galleries, Ferens Art Gallery, Haworth Art Gallery in Hull, Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne, Margate Old Town Local History Museum, Milntown Estate and Gardens on the Isle of Man, Museums Sheffield, Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery, Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, Whitstable Museum and Gallery, Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead.



Born in Twickenham, Middlesex, to John Sherrin, an artist, and Decima Blunt Sherrin (nee Vaughan).


Attended a private school for boys at Dalby Square, Margate.
Married Jessie Frances Wright.

Employed as a Draper’s Assistant by Peter Moore in Canterbury.


Lived in Lambeth, London, with his wife. Occupation recorded as ‘Lodging House Keeper’.


Mentioned in the press regarding an exhibition in Middlesbrough by Messrs. Mawson, Swan & Morgan.

“Daniel Sherrin, at one time a pupil of *Mr B. W. Leader, and who, to a surprising extent, seems to have inherited the well-known ability of his tutor, is represented by one of his most successful works, ‘Quiet Eventide.’”
*Whether he was trained by B. W. Leader is unclear.


Mentioned in the press regarding an exhibition by Messrs. Mawson, Swan & Morgan.

“...and a very striking landscape - a Surrey sunset, remarkable for vigorous drawing of trees and a beautiful sky - by Daniel Sherrin, a pupil of Leader.”


Lived in Whitstable, Kent, with his wife, son, and a servant. Occupation recorded as ‘Artist, Painter’.

Mentioned in the press regarding an exhibition in Hull by Messrs. Mawson, Swan & Morgan.

"Messrs Mawson, Swan and Morgan, of Savile-street, have this week opened another exhibition of oil painting and water colours of a high class. The exhibits cover a wide period of the history of painting in England - indeed the pictures shown cover the greater part of the century just closed. Such fine painters of long ago as William Shayer, A. Vickers, and Adam Barland are represented by good works. Barland's two landscapes, mellowed and toned by age, are beautiful examples; the Vickers is equally fine. More up-to-date, there is a Leader painted last year, ‘The Path by the Conway,’ in which composition and treatment are alike masterly. Daniel Sherrin reflects the Leader manner. Indeed, he is a pupil of Leader's. His ‘Evening Glow,’ full of soft colour and breathing the atmosphere of repose, will be much admired.”


Referred to in ‘The Printing Art v.14’.

“The Thos. D. Murphy Co., Red Oak, Iowa, is represented in this issue by the fourth of a series of notable calendar illustrations. This subject is shown opposite page 340. This is significant not only for the excellence of the colour work, but on account of the historic interest of the subject. Sulgrave Manor, commonly known as Washington's Manor, the home of a direct ancestor of ‘The First American,’ is naturally of great interest to every citizen of the United States. [...] 

The delightfully picturesque qualities of the old homestead make it an excellent subject for the brush of the artist aside from its historical associations, and Mr. Daniel Sherrin, the well-known English painter, has risen to the opportunity afforded him in a masterly way. He has chosen the quiet hour of evening, and the rich sunset sky is very effective in lighting up and lending strong relief to his subject. The landscape, the old cottages of the adjoining village, the flowers and the great trees are all typical of the beauty of the English Midlands. Mr. Sherrin, who painted the picture especially for The Thos. D. Murphy Co., lived in the house while executing the work, in order to gain the proper inspiration, and a single glance at the painting will bear out the assertion that he has not failed in his endeavour.”


Mentioned in the Faversham Mercury.

“Many who gathered at the Club between twelve and one remained for hours. At three o'clock their wait was rewarded. Word had gone round that at that hour Mr. Akers Douglas was coming. The place was crowded. Great red bills showing the sensational majority were posted round the room. Some diversion was caused by Mr. Daniel Sherrin, with a light green spike in a soft felt hat with brim turned down, doing the free Bohemian.”


Lived in Whitstable, Kent, with his wife, son, and a servant. Occupation recorded as ‘Painter, Artist’.


Appeared at Canterbury County Court.


Mentioned in the press following an appearance in court.

“The story of an extraordinary escapade of a well-known East Kent artist was told at the Canterbury County Police Court, on Saturday, when Daniel Sherrin was summoned for having unwarrantably pulled a communication cord on the South Eastern Railway. In the course of the evidence it was stated that when the train stopped defendant got off the footboard, and interrogated by the guard, threatened to shoot him. The guard, Charles Greenfield, however, was not frightened, and closed with Sherrin.

For the prosecution it was stated that defendant got into the 10 p.m. train from Victoria Station, and the guard explained to him that the train did not stop at Whitstable, but only at Faversham and Herne Bay. On approaching Whitstable Station the communication cord was pulled, and the guard stopped the train. Looking out of the window he saw a man jump from a third-class carriage. He got out and ran after the man, who tripped over a signal wire and rolled down the bank. On the guard's approaching the man (whom he subsequently learned was named Sherrin) the latter said to him, ‘If you move another foot I will shoot you.’ ‘The guard asked defendant why he had pulled the communication cord, and he said a man struck him on the head with a piece of iron and had robbed him of all his money. Sherrin was asked to show his injuries, but refused to do so, and he further declined to give his name and address. A porter from the Whitstable Station, however, came up and recognised defendant, who then said, ‘Yes, Sherrin, Whitstable, will find me.’ Defendant, who was the only third-class passenger, was quite sober.

Sherrin told the Court that he had since written and apologised to the Railway Company. Counsel for the Company: What was your idea of pulling the communication cord? - I really had no idea, but I was upset because I had slipped off the seat. There was no necessity for me to have pulled the train up at Whitstable, because it did not matter whether I went to Ramsgate, or anywhere else (laughter).

The Magistrate's Clerk: What about the statement as to your being knocked about? Well, I withdrew that to the Railway Company. I felt all right the next morning, but I thought I had been hit with a brick on the head. Supt. Heard stated that Sherrin had been before the magistrates several times for different offences. The Chairman told the defendant that if he would act in that erratic sort of manner he must put up with the consequences. The consequences in that case were that he would be fined £3 and costs, £1 12s. 10d.”

Son, Reginald Sherrin, joined the British Army.

Daniel joined the British Army as a ‘motor driver attached to the 'Motor Transport Section’.


Mentioned in the press following a football match in Whitstable.

“A good crowd assembled on the Belmont ground at Whitstable on Saturday afternoon to witness the football match between Whitstable and Herne Bay Regular Kent Coasters who had arranged the match in aid of the local Cottage Hospital. The game proved much more serious than was anticipated and Herne Bay played a really good game. Daniel Sherrin, the Whitstable centre forward, was dressed for the occasion. When the opposing teams took the field the tall, lean figure of Daniel stood out conspicuously. Attired in white jersey, which was adorned with a geranium red coloured necktie, khaki ‘nottalfs’ kept above the knee with tapes of the same hue, light blue socks, and football boots covered with light brown spats, the top buttons of which only were fastened. To complete the picture he wore a grey tall hat of the coaching day period. After a few remarks to the crowd he found the place allotted to him at centre forward.”


Lived in Whitstable, Kent, with his wife. Occupation recorded as ‘Picture Painter’.
Gave boxing lessons in Whitstable according to the local press. 

C. 1936

Commissioned by King George V to paint Sandringham Palace. The picture is in the Royal Collection Trust. 


Lived in Whitstable, Kent, with his wife. Occupation recorded as ‘Artist’.


Died in London.

Biography, The Whitstable Times, 1915.

“Corporal ‘Dan.’

The most extraordinary, the most original, the most successful recruiting officer in the New Army. (By one who knows him. Private Damie) Sherrin's billet.

Recent visitors to the old Cathedral city of Canterbury probably noticed these words printed in large block letters on a placard outside a bedroom window of a house near the Westgate, and those not well acquainted with the city and the locality around may well have asked 'and who is Daniel Sherrin?'

Daniel Sherrin, let me tell you, is an artist, an expert motor driver, the ‘Mayor of Seasalter,' a train stopper, and the possessor of other qualifications too numerous to mention. Since the war broke out he has enlisted in his Majesty's Army and first as private and now as corporal has become a recruiting officer, in which capacity he has rendered splendid services to his King and Country.

The extraordinary but accomplished Daniel is a resident of the little parish of Seasalter, which to all intents and purposes is a part of Whitstable (where the oysters come from), but unlike the oysters he is not a "native." As an artist Daniel is known by repute, if not personally, not only in his home county but in London, all over England, and in fact in nearly every country in the world. He is one of those gifted artists who can complete large sized oil painting in a marvellously short space of time, and he is able to turn out his work to order something after the same manner that a shoe factory can turn out shoes. In five minutes I have frequently seen Dan complete quite a decent oil painting of a rough sea beating up against the rocks, with a small boat rocking on the tempestuous water thrown in. So quickly can he work with his brush and oils that recently he challenged a Canterbury restaurant keeper to carve a pound of cooked meat while he himself painted a picture. Although on this occasion the artist soldier lost by a second and had to present the picture to the restaurant keeper, he had the satisfaction of sitting down to supper off the meat that the ham and beef professor had carved dextrously.

As a motor driver he has few equals. Many friends, and in parenthesis let me say he is very popular with all classes of society, has he driven to the coast towns, but I have never heard of his companion, risking the return journey with him. When they have had an opportunity to get out of the car they have insisted that they have had enough and have returned home by train, leaving Daniel to drive home alone. ‘The Mayor of Seasalter,’ as he is styled locally, has a delightful home on the hill to the north-west of Whitstable, and here one will 5 find pictures and beaten copper work and other artistic accomplishments of his. Some time ago he honoured himself by having an express train pull up at his garden gate (the grounds at the back of his residence abut the railway a line), but he had to pay for the distinction. Although in reply to his enquiry at Faversham he was informed that the train did not stop - at Whitstable he insisted on getting out at Seasalter, and just before arriving at his home, he pulled the communication cord and the s train stopped. Daniel alighted and was subsequently fined for irregularly pulling up the train.

A couple of years ago, not content with motoring and the other pastimes he indulged in, Daniel bought a flying machine, and as it rested on the lawn in front of his house it was the centre of much attraction to the natives of the town. Many trial trips were announced, but the monoplane, although apparently complete in every detail, would not fly. The last heard of it was that it was to be placed on a rowing boat and converted into a waterplane, but that was merely a dream. At any rate it has not yet become an accomplished fact.

All this was before the war. On the outbreak of war Daniel's son, who is also an artist of some talent and an expert motor driver, volunteered for service, and as the pilot of a motor transport has been at the Front for many months. Although considerably over the maximum age limit for Kitchener's Army the happy-go-lucky Daniel himself soon became fired with the spirit of patriotism and he threw down his brush and joined the 4th Battalion of The Buffs, the East Kent Regiment, whose glorious deeds take a prominent place in many pages of English history. Having been in the old Volunteers years ago Private Daniel Sherrin knew something at least of the duties of a soldier. His popularity fitted him well for the position of a recruiting officer and those in authority recognising this fact soon bedecked his military cap with the little fluttering red, white, and blue ribbons. In recruiting for the new Army Private Sherrin has brought to bear upon his duties an originality that has proved most successful. The author of the well known poster 'To Berlin,' which has been circulated in thousands throughout the country, he has also drawn up other equally attractive bills which have no doubt all helped him in obtaining recruits. Already he has been the means of securing between 300 and 400 young men for the Army, and it is not to be wondered at, for no man of military age has any peace where Daniel is. Besides his posters anyone who has heard him talk will vouch for his eloquence nightly for some time he had a ‘band, more noisy than musical, in the streets of Canterbury’, and it is in the city that he has reaped a harvest of recruits.

When not recruiting Corporal Daniel Sherrin for he is the proud possessor of two stripes now, is drilling to fit himself for whatever duties he may be called upon to perform.”


Kentish Express

"Dan Sherrin - Artist, Practical Joker.

Death has claimed Mr. Daniel Sherrin, of Whitstable, one of the town's best-known characters. The son of an artist, he was a talented painter in oils and was the father of an artist-Mr. Reginald Sherrin, of Herne Bay. Mr. Sherrin, who was about 71 years of age, had not been in the best of health for some time, but on Monday of last week he was taken seriously ill with bronchitis and he died on Friday.

Mr. Sherrin specialised in sea subjects and was an amazingly rapid worker. He completed his last picture - of a Spanish galleon on the Saturday before he died. At a charity concert at the Prince of Wales Institute, Canterbury, soon after the last war, he amazed his audience by completing a seascape in oils - a gem of a picture within a few minutes! The picture was sold for the funds, By the man-in-the-street Mr. Sherrin, or ‘Dan,’ as he was familiarly known, will chiefly be remembered for two things - his magnificent recruiting work at the beginning of the last war and his love of practical jokes.

In 1914, he joined The Buffs and became a recruiting corporal and, aided by witty posters, such as that which wanted young men to join a select shooting party to Berlin, he enlisted several hundred recruits for the county regiment. Many of the posters are still preserved as souvenirs, later he was engaged on military camouflage work.

Dan's sense of humour was irrepressible and he was responsible for some amazing exploits, which on occasions brought him into good-humoured conflict with the police. He once appeared at St. Augustine's Sessions for contravening the K.C.C. by-laws by painting white lines on pavements at Whitstable. It was at the time that these road signs were being introduced, but the artist's lines in each case led to the door of a public house, and his innocent excuse that he thought they would help patrons leaving the hostelry did not save him from a fine.

On another occasion he walked into Whitstable police station leading a horse which he said he had found. Stories of his jokes are legion - and a good many of them are fiction. It is true, however, that he once pulled the communication cord of an express so that it drew up opposite the end of his garden. When the guard arrived he handed the official the £5 penalty, left the train and went straight home via the garden instead of via the railway station 1 mile away.

When fire broke out in his greenhouse, somebody gave the alarm, but on the arrival of the Fire Brigade, Mr. Sherrin declined to admit them. He said it was a private fire and he wanted no interference! He was a regular attendant of Canterbury Cricket Week and, in his ultra-loud check suit, kept the crowd entertained during the intervals by his comic inspections of the pitch - with witty comments. He was generous to a fault and could never refuse a helping hand. Two old people were once singing in the main street of Whitstable, without much financial success, when ‘Dan’ spotted them. He took them under his wing and soon had a crowded audience. At the psychological moment he passed round the hat, which was well filled before he handed it to the grateful people.

There was a touch of grim humour about the fact that he had for years had his coffin ready made. He also built an aeroplane, although there is no record of it ever having left the ground. At one time he regularly entered for the Whitstable and Herne Bay Carnivals, a fact which was sufficient in itself to bring the crowds to see his latest effort. Among his memorable entries was that of the fire engine ‘such as never was,’ his Heath Robinson-like well-sinking apparatus (at the time when the Council were trying to find a water supply) and his Tutankhamen tableaux in which, as the Egyptian king, he sat in a gilded coffin surrounded by empty whiskey bottles labelled ‘Departed Spirits.’

Although in recent years his health had put an end to his humorous adventures, there will be many who will remember them with an appreciative smile and who will genuinely regret the passing of Dan Sherrin, who now will undoubtedly become a legendary character for all time. Like Mark Twain's, his death was a year or so ago ‘grossly exaggerated,’ a London newspaper publishing a full obituary story of his career. He leaves a widow and one son. Mr. Reginald Sherrin. The funeral took place quietly at Old Seasalter Church on Tuesday.”

The Whitstable Times

“With the passing of Daniel Sherrin, the town loses an outstanding personality, whose name and fame were familiar to thousands of people in many parts of the country, either as an artist, a practical humorist, or as a man. As an artist, his sea and landscapes are probably his best known works. Who has not felt the tang of the brine, the romance of the sea, portrayed by his brigs or galleons, with billowing sails riding the deep blue waters? His pictures of the windswept sand dunes with the churn of the tide licking up to their edges impel the attention. I have seen such pictures displayed in the windows of West End picture dealers collect groups of people daily, who stand and gaze at them.

His Highland landscapes with the top of a mountain lost in the mist of a low lying cloud, and a burst of sunshine pouring into the foreground, are familiar works of his genius, the more remarkable because he lacked the advantage of early tuition, but much of which was probably inherited from his father, who himself was a recognised master of the painting of still life, and whose pictures, Daniel during his later years, took great pains to acquire and give them a gallery to themselves.

In his younger days, Daniel had the urge to be an artist, but his father would have none of it. He definitely forbade and discouraged him to take it up as a profession, saying it was a dead-end, and led nowhere. So Daniel started on a commercial career. Eventually he returned to his first love, and it can reasonably be assumed did so, with his father's warning fully in mind.

Probably realising he could not afford to wait and become a recognised or fashionable artist, he tackled the problem in his own way, and produced pictures at a remarkable rate. Because of this, he was sometimes alluded to as a pot boiler. This criticism was not perhaps totally unfair, under the circumstances, but nevertheless the genius was there, and could he have set aside all commercial considerations and taken more time there is little doubt would have produced some masterpieces recognised as such in art circles. I have in my own possession one of his outstanding achievements, painted at his own leisure to a definite order. A picture ten feet high by six feet wide, its technique and realism are such that most people seeing it for the first time stand and exclaim ‘Isn't that just wonderful!’.

His abilities did not end with oil or watercolours. He was an expert carver in wood, and his works have been purchased by many famous people, and he even produced the most amazing artistic results with commonplace cement. So much, or rather so little, for the artist, for he was a glutton for work, and his pictures are everywhere. As a practical humorist, his fame was widespread. Should his name crop up during a general conversation, people who knew him or who had only heard of him would vie with each other to reiterate some practical joke or other he had been responsible for.

He was ever ready to have a tilt at bureaucracy, officialdom, or pompousness. As the self styled Mayor of Seasalter with his own fire brigade he was gorgeous! And although some of the jokes were considered in bad taste by some people, all that he did was entirely without venom, but nevertheless had a definite psychological puckishness. Who can gainsay his moral courage, when, wearing his suit with black and white checks each as big as a draught board, he would calmly walk the West of London or down the Strand, apparently oblivious to the general interest and good humour he was arousing? Whenever Daniel Sherrin arrived there were expectant smiling faces. He was expected to say or do something fantastic, and he usually obliged. How many people have the ability to carry with them an aura of good humour such as he did, and always without offence. Even when catching the last train from Victoria at night he would refuse to board the train and hold it up for a minute while he kissed the ticket collector goodnight. Personally, I should like to think that his biography of practical jokes will be written, it would be grand reading and great fun.

As a man, to those who really knew him, he had a deep religious strain, was ever ready and often over-generous to help a lame dog over a stile, and his charitable acts will never be fully known. He preferred to keep them to himself. The most human insight into his character was the deep affection he had for his own family. They were always spoken of by him as he thought of them, in the most affectionate and proud terms. A most colourful personality, a genius, a worker, a keen humorist, and to those who really knew him, a man, has passed over in Daniel Sherrin and it is doubtful if this town will ever have his like again.”

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