David Morier, George, 1st Marquess Townshend with Norfolk Militia

Photo courtesy of Tom St Aubyn (All rights reserved)


Country House
Raynham Hall
George, 1st Marquess Townshend with Norfolk Militia
The Small Dining Room
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 59 cm, Overall width: 39 cm
David Morier (c.1705-1770)
Catalogue Number


George Townshend, 1st Marquess Townshend (1724–1807) was the son of Charles Townshend, 3rd Viscount Townshend (1700–1764) and Ethelreda 'Audrey' Harrison (c.1708–1788). He was married first to Charlotte Compton, 15th Baroness Ferrers of Chartley, and second to Anne Montgomery (c.1752–1819). By the time this portrait was painted, George had left the army as lieutenant colonel following a disagreement with the Duke of Cumberland and devoted himself to political life as MP for Norfolk. In 1756, George rose to political prominence through his support for the reform of the militia. Despite opposition, including from his own father, the 3rd Viscount, the Militia Bill received royal assent in 1757. George Walpole, 3rd Earl of Orford acted as colonel-in-chief of the Norfolk militia with George as colonel of the Western battalion and Sir Armine Wodehouse, another local MP, as colonel of the Eastern battalion.

The painting depicts George gesturing proudly towards a review of the 1st, or Western, Norfolk Militia in which he was colonel. Two years later, he published with William Windham A Plan of Discipline Composed for the Use of the Militia on the County of Norfolk, written for officers to use in the rural militia unit and which later became an important training manual during the American Revolution.1

It is possible that George Townshend commissioned the present portrait to commemorate the success of the Norfolk militia before he left Britain in 1759 as brigadier under Major-General James Wolfe for the expedition against Quebec. A similar portrait of his counterpart, Wodehouse, also attributed to Morier, was painted in the same year (National Army Museum, London, NAM.1888-11-1-1).

by Emily Knight


Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, ed. Rev. Edmund Farrer, vol. 2, Norwich : Jarrold and Sons, 1928, p. 228, no. 23 (‘GEORGE, 1ST MARQUESS TOWNSHEND’)


  1. William Windham and George Townshend, A Plan of Discipline Composed for the Use of the Militia on the County of Norfolk, London: J. Shuckburgh, 1759.


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