attributed to Cornelius Johnson, George Horner I (1605–1677)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
George Horner I (1605–1677)
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 75 cm, Overall width: 62 cm
attributed to Cornelius Johnson (1593-1661)
Catalogue Number
  • Inscribed lower left: ‘26’; dated lower right: ‘1630’


Sir George Horner (1605–1677) was the eldest son and heir of John Horner of Mells and Cloford (MM36) and his wife Anne, daughter of Sir George Speke of White Lackington, Somerset. He married Anne Poole (c.1620-30-1678), daughter of Sir Neville Poole of Poole Keynes, Wilts. Together they had four sons and four daughters, of whom three sons (possibly two) and three daughters outlived him. George Horner matriculated at Lincoln College, Oxford in 1623 and took his BA in 1627, progressing to Lincoln’s Inn where he was called to the bar in 1633. Horner was returned as MP for Somerset in 1645 and re-elected the following year. He also served as the commissioner for Somerset in 1648–9, a justice of the peace and member of the Somerset militia in 1648. 

Although Horner’s father opposed Charles I, George Horner remained neutral or in sympathy with the Royalist cause and took no part in politics during the Interregnum. On the Restoration in 1660 he was rewarded for his loyalty with a knighthood and appointed a deputy lieutenant for Somerset; he was also returned once more to Parliament for Somerset at the general election of 1660. He died on 9 February 1677 and was buried at Cloford.

 This portrait can be attributed with some confidence to Cornelius Johnson (1593–c.1664), an English painter of Flemish descent. Johnson maintained a thriving portrait practice in London in the 1620s and 30s, drawing most of his clients from the higher, but not highest, social classes, including many lawyers. The fictive stone oval is typical of his work, as is the appended date – 1630 – in the lower right-hand corner. The sitter’s age, ‘26’ (inscribed lower left), throws some doubt on his identity, as Horner was born in March 1605, but a comment by an eighteenth-century historian of the Horner family, that ‘Sir George must be 36 when the Civil Wars began, 1640’, suggests that it was this portrait that was his source.1 The age as stated must therefore be incorrect.

by Amy Lim


  1. A.B. [The Reverend Henry Harris], ‘Memoirs of the Family of the Horners of Mells, in the County of Somerset’, Frome Society Yearbook, vol. 1, 1987, p. 15.


Related catalogue items from Mells Manor

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    Allegorical Figures in a Landscape

    Michele da Verona, ? c. 1510

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    The Hall and Staircase, Mells, Somerset

    Rex Whistler

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    Mynedeep Forest, with its Circumjacent Villages and Laws

    English School, ? 17th century