Samuel Shelley (British, 1750-1808), Captain John Nicholson Inglefield (1748-1828), wearing blue coat with white facings edged with gold, white waistcoat, frilled chemise and black stock, his powdered hair tied with a black ribbon bow
Lot 67Y
Samuel Shelley (British, 1750-1808), Captain John Nicholson Inglefield (1748-1828), wearing blue coat with white facings edged with gold, white waistcoat, frilled chemise and black stock, his powdered hair tied with a black ribbon bow
Sold for £5,250 (US$ 8,738) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Samuel Shelley (British, 1750-1808)
Captain John Nicholson Inglefield (1748-1828), wearing blue coat with white facings edged with gold, white waistcoat, frilled chemise and black stock, his powdered hair tied with a black ribbon bow.
Gilt-metal frame with pierced scroll leaf border, the reverse with brooch pin attachment and glazed to reveal loosely plaited hair.
Oval, 55mm (2 3/16in) high


  • John's lengthy career of service in the Royal Navy is perhaps unsurprising given his illustrious seafaring lineage. The son of ship's carpenter, Isaac Inglefield and his wife Hannah Slade, John's maternal uncle, Sir Thomas Slade (1703/4-1771), was the architect responsible for the celebrated HMS 'Victory'. His father having left behind a host of clamouring creditors upon his demise, John had little alternative but to join the ranks of the Royal Navy aged just 11 years old. By the age of eighteen, he was numbered amongst the crew of the 'Launceston', having attained the rank of Able Seaman. By 1768, John was serving aboard HMS 'Romney' as a Lieutenant under the command of Sir Samuel Hood (1762-1814). The friendship between the two men lasted for the duration of their highly decorated careers, fighting alongside each other through several Anglo-French conflicts, most notably the Battle of the Saintes in 1782.

    In the autumn of that year, John witnessed the hurricane that intercepted HMS 'Centaur' as she made for port off the coast of Britain together with 600 other souls on board. In addition to John, only 11 men survived the wreckage. Returning home, John found that the fate of the 'Centaur' had been commemorated in oils and subsequently made into a popular print. The public's captivation with the incident inspired John to pen, 'Captain Inglefield's Narrative Concerning the Loss of His Majesty's Ship the Centaur', which was published in 1783.

    During a brief home posting during the winter of 1773, John had married Ann Smith of Greenwich. The couple had two surviving children, Rear-Admiral Samuel Hood Inglefield (1783-1848) and Mary Anne who went on to wed Admiral Sir Benjamin Hallowell Carew (1761-1834), one of Admiral Lord Nelson's 'Band of Brothers'. John's grandson, Admiral Sir Edward Augustus Inglefield (1820-1894), led one of the search parties for the missing polar explorer John Franklin and subsequently chartered previously unknown territory along the Canadian coast. In 1786, John and Ann separated following accusations from the former that his wife had made improper advances towards their African manservant. The case played out in the public eye, with Ann issuing 'Mrs Inglefield's Justification' in 1787, inciting John to publish 'Captain Inglefield's Vindication of his Conduct' and 'New Annals of Gallantry' in quick succession. The court case destroyed their marriage despite the verdict swinging in Ann's favour and the couple remained separated for the rest of their lives.

    The following year, Inglefield patrolled the West Coast of Africa, commanding HMS 'Adventure' and HMS 'Medusa'. In 1792 he presided over the court-martial of the mutineers from HMS 'Bounty' as one of the trial's judges. Inglefield then served in the Mediterranean aboard, HMS 'Aigle' and was appointed Captain of the Fleet before returning to England in 1794, at which time he became resident Commissioner of the Navy Board, serving in Corsica, Malta, Gibraltar, Halifax and Nova Scotia. A Commissioner's post was considered equivalent with the rank of Rear Admiral but the appointment was only given to officers who had terminated their active service. Five years later, Inglefield retired. He died in Greenwich and left the majority of his estate to his surviving children.
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  1. Jennifer Tonkin
    Specialist - Portrait Miniatures
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
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