We have just bought this portrait of Jane Weller (1749-1818) at auction at Bellmans, West Sussex. Jane’s daughter Maria married Sir John Trevelyan, 5th Bt. in 1791, and this picture will now join the collection at Wallington, the Trevelyan ancestral home.
The portrait is said to show Jane aged sixteen – and so would appear to have been painted in about 1765. She looks a bit younger than that to me, but this may be due to the relatively naive style of the unknown painter.
The white flowers on her pink dress are a nice touch, echoing the real flowers she holds in her hands – and which in turn may reflect an interest in natural history, which would become more evident later.
Jane was an heiress, the beneficiary of several family fortunes. In 1767 she married Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, 6th Bt., a soldier and politician. This picture shows her in later life, in front of Charlton House, Greenwich, which she had inherited from her great uncle, the Rev. John Maryon.
The Jacobean mansion of Charlton House still survives. One of Jane’s descendants, Sir Spencer Maryon Wilson, sold it to London County Council in 1925 and it is now in the care of the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust. It has also lent its name to the local Charlton Park rugby club.
Jane was a pioneer beetle expert, or coleopterist. She enjoyed going on beetle and fossil hunting expeditions and assembled a collection of natural history specimens which formed the basis of the ‘museum’ still at Wallington.