An Old Salt

William John Thompson


Wearing a naval coat with anchor buttons and an epaulette, this sitter’s rugged features show the experience befitting to an ‘old salt’. A cut out printed label under the glass on the reverse of the frame identifies him as ‘Francis Eyre, eighth and last Earl of Newburgh’. Francis, however, pursued a military career thus invalidating the identification. New research and comparison shows that the sitter is more likely to be Sir George Eyre who served in the Royal Navy and attained the rank of Vice-Admiral.

Born in 1779, George Eyre was the youngest son of Anthony Eyre, a British politician. He joined the Royal Navy in 1790 seeing early action during the American War of Independence. By 1798 he was promoted to Captain with his own ship. He had a varied and active career spending time in the West Indies and participating in the Napoleonic Wars. In his private life, he married Georgiana Cooke, a Baronet’s daughter, and with her had eight children. He died in 1839 at the age of 60.

A portrait of strong character, it is set in a gold frame that is also glazed on the reverse to show an erroneous label.

Born in the United States, William John Thomson accompanied his father when he chose to retire to England. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1808. Thomson later married and settled in Edinburgh where he became an elected member of the Royal Scottish Academy.

APHA Registered

Item Ref. 7244

Size: framed, 75 x 63mm + hanging ring