Henry Badham Thornhill

Charles Robertson


This immaculate and well-provenanced portrait miniature ring shows Henry Badham-Thornhill in the uniform of the 6th Dragoons Guards (Carabiniers).

Born in Ireland in 1772, Henry was the eldest son of Edward Badham-Thornhill and his wife Mary Marsh. One of ten children, he grew up at Castle Kevin, a splendid crenellated country house located in Co. Cork. In July 1792, aged 20, Henry enlisted with the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) as a Cornet. His military career was, however, short-lived: in the 1796 Army List he is still shown as the same low grade commissioned officer but by the time the next list is published he has sold his commission and returned to civilian life, most likely due to family responsibilities as his father died soon after in 1798.

In July 1802 Henry married Catherine O’Dell, a Colonel’s daughter, of Castletownroche, Co. Cork. The couple settled into life at Castle Kevin and had five sons and three daughters. Henry died on 27 November 1821, aged 49. His widow went on to remarry in 1828 and again in 1838.

The portrait is set into a gold ring (tests for 14/15 ct.). The setting may have been commissioned at the time of Henry’s death as it is engraved in a Gothic font on the underside –

Henry Badham-Thornhill
Castle Kevin
Obt. 1821

The 1911 Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society mentions that “a family ring with a miniature nearly 200 years old is in the possession of Miss Ware, daughter of William Beamish Ware & Miss Badham-Thornhill”, Miss Ware being Henry’s granddaughter.

The son of a Dublin jeweller, Charles Robertson (c1760-1821) was trained from an early age to create hair designs, possibly for portrait miniatures painted by his elder brother Walter. Clearly a precocious child, he was only fifteen when he exhibited his first miniature painting. His work is critically well acclaimed by collectors.

Item Ref. 9126

Size: portrait, 31 x 24mm ; Ring, UK P ; US 7½

Provenance: Family descent via Henry's daughter Sarah Sophia to her daughter ; UK private collection

Literature: Journal of the Cork Historical & Archaeological Society, 1911