circle of Thomas Gibson, Rachel Rashleigh, wife of John Hawkins II

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Rachel Rashleigh, wife of John Hawkins II
? c.1718–19
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 125 cm, Overall width: 99 cm
circle of Thomas Gibson (1680-1751)
Catalogue Number


Rachel Rashleigh (1697–1767) was one of eight children of Jonathan Rashleigh II (1642–1702) of Menabilly, Cornwall, and his second wife, Jane Carew (d. 1700), of Antony, Cornwall. On 4 November 1718 she married John Hawkins II (1691–1736), son of Philip Hawkins I of Pennans and brother of Philip Hawkins II, who by 1728 had acquired Trewithen. As both Rachel Rashleigh and John Hawkins came from wealthy, propertied families, a draft marriage settlement was set up in 1718–19, as well as a post-nuptial marriage settlement in 1726.1 Rachel’s husband pursued an academic career and was Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge from 1728 to 1733. He died in 1736. They had no children. Hawkins’s estate passed to his brother Philip, and then to his nephew, Thomas Hawkins.

The present portrait is, like the portrait of the sitter’s husband, attributed to an artist in the circle of the London-based Thomas Gibson. It may have been painted at the time of Rachel Rashleigh’s marriage. In September 1740 her brother, Jonathan Rashleigh (TN58), granted Rachel, then living close to Trewithen at Nantellan, Grampound, a ninety-nine-year lease on family property. Further leases were granted to her by the family until her death in 1767.2

In the inventory of March 1928, when the present painting was included in a display along the ‘Main Corridor, Landing and Staircase to Ground Floor’, it was described as ‘Three-quarter length of Lady (Anne Laughton) light blue satin décolleté dress with pink lining seated holding basket of flowers, landscape background – 50in by 40in’. The reason for naming the sitter as Anne Laughton is unknown since there is no known connection between that individual and Trewithen.

by Martin Postle


  1. CRO J/1/255: draft settlement by Philip Hawkins on the marriage of his son John Hawkins with Rachel Rashleigh, 1718–19; Royal Institution of Cornwall HH/17/148: marriage settlement of John Hawkins and Rachel Rashleigh, 25 August 1726; CRO RS/6: ‘Postnuptial settlement of John Hawkins and Rachel Rashleigh, of half of manors of Trewoon in St Mewan and Manely Fleming’, also of 1726.

  2. CRO R/921, 3 September 1740: (99-year lease) ‘Jonathan Rashleigh of Menabilly, esq., to Rachel Hawkins of Nantellan, wid.’; R/922/1,2, 25 July 1741; R/923/1,2, 6 June 1748; R/924/1,2, 11 August 1767.


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