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Sir Jacob Astley, 1st Baron Astley of Reading (1579-1652)

Rhoda Delaval, Lady Astley (1725-1757)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1745 - 1757

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

737 x 610 mm (29 x 24 in)

Place of origin

England

Order this image

Collection

Seaton Delaval Hall, Northumberland

NT 1276692

Caption

Sir Jacob Astley’s military career began as a teenager when he volunteered to join Sir Walter Raleigh’s 1597 Azores expedition. He then sought employment as a mercenary in Europe, serving at significant battles such as Nieuport in 1600, eventually marrying a Dutch heiress, Agnes Impel (there is a portrait of her at Seaton Delaval). He returned to England in the 1630s to take an infantry command under Charles I during the war against Scotland. At the outbreak of Civil War in 1642, he was appointed principle infantry commander to Charles I. The leather surcoat (with brocade strips) that he wore at Edgehill survives at Seaton Delaval. Rhoda Delaval was an accomplished amateur artist, who was taught by Arthur Pond. She copied a number of the Astley family portraits in the late 1750s.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Jacob Astley, 1st Baron Astley of Reading (1579-1652) by Rhoda Delaval, Lady Astley (1725 - 1757), after a 17th century original. Half-length, facing, turned left, wearing armour, with his left hand on the hilt of his sword; landscape beyond.

Full description

The eighth child of Isaac Astley (1540 – 1598) of Melton Constable and Mary Waldegrave (1579 – 1645), daughter of Edward Waldegrave of Lawford, Essex. He began his military career as a teenager when he volunteered to join Sir Walter Raleigh’s 1597 Azores expedition, but then sought employment as a mercenary in Europe, serving at significant battles such as Nieuport in 1600 and eventually marrying a Dutch heiress, Agnes Impel, daughter of Henry Impel (see her portrait, also in the Old Kitchen). During his stay in Holland he gained favour at the exiled court of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen and daughter of James I. She referred to him as ‘honest little Jacob’ (he was born short) and is thought to have engaged him as a tutor to her son Prince Rupert in military matters. He returned to England in the 1630s to take an infantry command under Charles I during the war against Scotland. At the outbreak of Civil War in 1642, he was appointed principle infantry commander to Charles I. On the eve of the Battle of Edgehill in 1642 he delivered the famous prayer: ‘O Lord! Thou knowest how busy I must be this day; if I forget thee, do not thou forget me … March on, boys!’ The leather surcoat (with brocade strips) that he wore at Edgehill survives at Seaton Delaval. His importance to the Royalist forces increased throughout the war and he was appointed, amongst other posts, governor of Oxford and a leading member of the Kings Council of War. Astley also saw action at Reading, Gloucester and Lostwithiel, but his infantry were forced to surrender during the final major battle of the war in 1645 at Naseby. Astley escaped, only to be defeated again at Stow-in-the-Wold in 1646, whilst en route to the besieged King at Oxford. He was created Baron Astley of Reading in 1644, and was borne three issue: two sons and one daughter. The Baronetcy became extinct in 1668 on the death of his grandson, who died without issue.

Provenance

accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Treasury and transferred to the National Trust in 2009.

Credit line

Seaton Delaval, The Hastings Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

In yello, mid-right (after the original): Aetat: 61 / Anno Do [m] / 1640

Makers and roles

Rhoda Delaval, Lady Astley (1725-1757), artist

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