Unknown Artist, ? Sir Roger Townshend, 1st Baronet (1595–1637)

Photo courtesy of Tom St Aubyn (All rights reserved)


Country House
Raynham Hall
? Sir Roger Townshend, 1st Baronet (1595–1637)
The Music Room
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 63.5 cm, Overall width: 52 cm
Unknown Artist
Catalogue Number
  • Inscribed upper left: ‘1647 [Aeta]tis Suae 45’


This painting has been described as a portrait of Stanhope Townshend, younger brother of Sir Roger, 1st Baronet, but this is unlikely as he died in 1628 aged about thirty. It may, however, be Sir Roger himself. Roger Townshend was born in 1595, the eldest son of Sir John Townshend (RN15) and his wife Anne, daughter and co-heir of Sir Nathaniel Bacon of Stiffkey, Norfolk. On 27 May 1627 he married Mary (RN16), daughter of Horace, 1st Baron Vere of Tilbury, an army officer who distinguished himself fighting for the Dutch Republic in the wars against Spain. They had five sons and four daughters.

The Townshends were a family of prominent lawyers and Roger followed the family tradition, entering Cambridge in 1611 and Gray’s Inn in 1614. Although initially reluctant to participate in public life, he was returned as MP for Orford in 1621 and Norfolk in 1628, and served as a JP and deputy lieutenant from 1626. As a Puritan, Townshend became increasingly disillusioned with Charles I and took no part in parliamentary debates, but he was active in Norfolk politics and regularly attended quarter sessions. Townshend’s estates were controlled by his grandmother Lady Berkeley (his father had been killed in a duel when he was only eight) and on her death in 1618 he inherited the Raynham estate and an annual income of more than £2000. This enabled him to rebuild Raynham Hall in a grand classical style of his own design.

The inscribed date and age of the sitter do not accord with Townshend’s own dates and may have been added later. This sitter may have been misidentified as Mildmay Fane (RN26) who was born in 1602 and married Mary Vere after Townshend’s death. The painting has been slightly cut down on all sides, cropping the inscription, and the artist is unknown.

by Amy Lim


Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, ed. Rev. Edmund Farrer, vol. 2, Norwich : Jarrold and Sons, 1928, vol. 2, p. 232, no. 37 (‘TOWNSHEND FAMILY. MAN’)

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