James Tonkin was born at Sennen, Cornwall, the third son of Charles Tonkin and his wife Elizabeth, a flour dealer and grocer in Penzance. Together with John Pope VIBERT, the artist produced a large number of lithographs of West Penwith landscapes and townscapes, including a series depicting the replacement of the Logan Rock, one of which (1824) is in the Penlee House collection. He also produced a set of 'Views of Mounts Bay'. His other major talent was miniature portrait painting, for which he was called in by friends and neighbours. 

He is also known to have been a musician and pianoforte tuner, and highly respected locally for his many talents.

One of his sisters was a talented singer and his brothers were also musicians.


Lithography, miniature portraitist and painter in watercolours; also known to have been a musician and pianoforte tuner.

works and access

Works include: Logan Rock (lithograph, 1824); Branwell family portraits including Maria Branwell (1799), later Mrs Bronte.

Access to works: Penlee House Collection, Penzance

The Bronte Society, Haworth, Yorkshire (Collection of Miniatures of the family)


misc further info

With thanks to Bill Curnow for further genealogical information researched from Florida!


Diane Donohue, West Penwith Resources (COPC)

Holmes  An Artistic Tradition;

Tonkin family history (private collection)

Bibliotheca Cornubiensis; Collectanea; William Curnow (COPC)