Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723)
  • Rebecca Hussey
No date
Oil on canvas
  • overall height 216cm,
  • overall height 119cm
  • lettered bottom left 'REBECCA HUSSEY'
Object Type
Oil painting

Catalogue Number
R.E.G. Cole, History of Doddington, otherwise Doddington-Pigot, in the County of Lincoln, and its successive owners, with pedigrees, James Williamson: Lincoln, 1897, pp. 109-10, 224


Rebecca Hussey (1674–1714) was one of four daughters of Sir Thomas Hussey, second Baronet, of Honington, Lincolnshire (1639–1706) and Sarah Langham (d. 1697), eldest daughter of Sir John Langham. On the death of her father, she and her two surviving sisters, Sarah and Elizabeth, inherited Doddington Hall. Rebecca Hussey died unmarried in 1714, and is buried in the Hussey family chapel in St Wilfred’s Church, Honington, Lincolnshire. An inscription on the memorial tablet on the wall of the chapel, erected by her sister Sarah in 1730, states that she died on 21 August 1714, ‘After a life principally employed in Devotion and Acts of Charity’. Rebecca’s will, written in 1713, indicates that most of her money was left to charitable causes, including £1000 for ‘the redemption of slaves’, £1000 for ‘prisoners that are confined for small debts for themselves or have unhappily been bound for other folks’, £3000 for the relief of ‘old maids’, and £2000 for ‘a fund for publishing and propagating spiritual and religious books’.1

In the nineteenth century funds relating to her charities were discovered by the attorney general in the Court of Chancery, resulting in the establishment of several charities, three of which exist today: Rebecca Hussey’s Book Charity; the Rebecca Hussey Trust for Africans; and the Lincolnshire Discharged Prisoners Welfare Charity.

At some stage, possibly during the remodelling of the interior of Doddington Hall in the 1760s, the portrait has been enlarged from three-quarter length to full length. As noted by Cole, in the late nineteenth century the portrait hung in the Long Gallery as ‘a companion’ to the full-length portrait of Rebecca Hussey’s sister Sarah ([obj]DN2[/obj]). Neither the present portrait nor any of the other portraits of the Hussey family by Kneller at Doddington Hall are included in the catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work by Douglas Stewart.2 They are published here for the first time.

by Martin Postle


  1. 1 Will of Rebecca, daughter of Sir Thomas Hussey of St Martin in the Fields, NA DD/S/BT/7/7/14, Somerset Heritage Centre
  2. 2 Douglas Stewart, Sir Godfrey Kneller, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983

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