The lady in green – A portrait within a portrait

In a previous post, ‘Was green fashionable in the 18th century?’ I featured this beautiful miniature of a Mrs Russell, née Cocks. I was recently asked if I knew more about the sitter, so I had to see what else was known about her, if anything.

Portrait miniature of Mrs Russell, nee Cocks, 1781 by John Smart (1741-1811). Historical Portraits, courtesy of Philip Mould.
Portrait miniature of Mrs Russell, nee Cocks, 1781 by John Smart (1741-1811). Historical Portraits, courtesy of Philip Mould.

Mary was born 21 June 1758, the eldest daughter of Margaret and her husband, a barrister, Joseph Cocks. Joseph Cocks was the brother of Charles Cocks, 1st Baronet.

Mary had just one sibling, Margaret, who, as we will discover is very relevant to this story. Mary and Margaret’s father died 1775 and ensured that his two daughters were well provided for in his will, and placed his sister Elizabeth and his two brothers, John and Phillip as trustees of his estate until his daughters were aged twenty one or married.

When Mary posed for the miniature above, she was due to marry William Russell the following year, which she duly did on 19 March 1782 at St Martin, Worcester.

Just one year to the day later, Mary gave birth to a daughter, whom the couple named after her mother. The portrait below shows young Mary, aged 6, with her aunt, Margaret.

Margaret Cocks, later Mrs Joseph Smith and her niece Mary Russell, later Mrs H. B. Domvile as a young Girl (after Sir Joshua Reynolds, PRA) Henry Macbeth-Raeburn (Helensburgh 1860 - Dedham 1947). Courtesy of  National Trust, Tyntesfield, North Somerset
Margaret Cocks, later Mrs Joseph Smith and her niece Mary Russell, later Mrs H. B. Domvile as a young Girl (after Sir Joshua Reynolds, PRA). Courtesy of  National Trust, Tyntesfield, North Somerset

Tragically Mary’s life was to be cut short, as she died at just 28 years old, on 27 November 1786, but he has never been forgotten as she is commemorated in the parish church St Peter’s Powick, Malvern Hills, Worcestershire.

It’s just possible to make out in the carving below, Mary with her young daughter and they are surrounded by musical instruments, as Mary, was not only regarded as beautiful,  but was also said to have been a talented musician.

Courtesy of Angus and Rosemary’s Miscellany of Malvern

As we can see from this portrait of Margaret below, painted the year of her beloved sister’s death, that she has the miniature of Mary in her lap and wearing what may well have been a mourning ring.

Courtesy of Meisterdrucke, Fine Arts
Courtesy of Meisterdrucke, Fine Arts

Mary’s husband, William, a wealthy lawyer, was left to raise their young daughter alone until he remarried in 1793, his second wife being Elizabeth Pakington. The couple had several further children including John Somerset Russell, later known as John Somerset Pakington who became First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary of State for War and Baronet Pakington, and later was created 1st Baron Hampton.

Born John Somerset Russell, later to become John Somerset Pakington
Born John Somerset Russell, later to become John Somerset Pakington

William lived into his early 60’s and died in 1812. His will confirms that he owned estates in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Somerset and refers to an indenture of covenant that he had with Sir Herbert Perrot Pakington and his brother, John Pakington (these were the sons of Sir Herbert Pakington who was named in the memoirs of Teresia Constantia Phillips – such a small world!)

Sources

Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; Class: PROB 11; Piece: 1006

Records of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, Series PROB 11; ClassPROB 11; Piece1541

Find a Grave

The Heraldry of Worcestershire

 

5 thoughts on “The lady in green – A portrait within a portrait

    1. Sarah Murden

      I’m not aware of any direct connection to Tyntesfield. The provenance on their website simply says ‘Purchased from the estate of the late Lord Wraxall with the assistance of the NHMF and donations from members and supporters’.

      Like

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