James Corne Pownall

Oil on metal, 1784


This charming portrait shows James Corne Pownall when he was just eight years old. Standing in a landscape and dressed as a little drummer boy, he is wearing a red coat trimmed with silver braid over a cream waistcoat and frilled shirt with an eye-catching hat decorated with an ostrich feather. A blue ribbon sash supports his toy drum.

Born in January 1776, James Corne Pownall was the eldest son of of William Pownall. a grocer in Macclesfield, and Sarah (née Cornes). James grew up to become a planter in Jamaica and the owner of the Silver Estate Plantation. He had ten children by his housekeeper and “free mulatto” Sarah Watt, all of whom were sent to school in England. The 1824 jamaica Almanac lists him as a major-general in the Jamaican Militia.

James died in 1824 and in his will bequeathed his wealth to his children but stipulated that should any of his daughters return to live in Jamaica, they would forfeit their share. His real estate and slaves were left to his housekeeper along with a small annuity.

Painted in oils on metal, the portrait is housed in a simple gilded wood frame.

Item Ref. 5951

Size: framed oval, 325 x 273mm (12¼ x 10¾")