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