Nathaniel Acton (1725—1795)

Nathaniel Acton was a wealthy, and successful, Suffolk landowner. The Actons had been landowners since the late 1500s, having made their money in the Ipswich cloth trade. They had expanded their holdings in the 17th century, buying assorted farms, woods, and meadows, a practice continued by Nathaniel in the second half of the 18th century.  Nathaniel Acton was the only son of Nathaniel Acton of Bramford Hall and his third wife Elizabeth Fowle. Nathaniel’s father had been a third son, and only inherited in 1743 due to the deaths of his older brothers without issue. He died in 1745.

Nathaniel was thus in his early twenties when he subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account, and in his early thirties when Gainsborough painted him in 1758. Gainsborough's portrait of Nathaniel Acton

In 1741, Nathaniel entered Bury school, where one John Wearg was a governor.  In 1753, Acton married Caroline Wearg, and Gainsborough painted her portrait, too. Gainsborough's portrait of Caroline Acton

Gainsborough also painted (possibly in the same year) Nathaniel’s sister, Elizabeth, who had married Richard Colvile.

Gainsborough's portrait of Elizabeth Colville

Nathaniel and Caroline had two children, Nathaniel and Harriet, before she died in 1761.  Nathaniel then married Dorothy Aspin of Bury St. Edmunds in the same year, and they had a daughter Caroline.  Dorothy lived until 1805. Her portrait was painted by Thomas Bardwell in 1762, but I do not have a picture to show you.  There is also a portrait of Nathaniel by Thomas Hudson, although I do not know the date. I must say he looks rather more dashing in the Hudson than the Gainsborough.

Hudson's portrait of Nathaniel Acton

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One thought on “Nathaniel Acton (1725—1795)

  1. Pingback: Lamb Barry | Kirby and his world

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