Charles Turner after John Hoppner.
John Willitt Payne Esq. Rear Admiral of the Red, Vice Admiral of the Coasts of Devonshire.
11½ x 15½ inches
Every family album has a rake and ours is Rear Admiral John Payne (1752-1803) who famously spoke ill of Queen Charlotte and met with the wrath of the Duchess of Gordon, dismissing him with the fabulous rebuke, "You little, insignificant, good-for-nothing upstart". This is not entirely fair but I think we can tell by the cut of his jib that Payne is something of a bon vivant. His career at sea is distinguished and he served heroically throughout both the American and French Revolutionary Wars but it was when back on land that his swashbuckling got him into deep water. It was inevitable that he would forge a strong friendship with the hedonistic Prince of Wales becoming his Private Secretary, Controller of his Household and accomplice in crime. It was Payne who campaigned for his regency, it was Payne who attended his raucous parties and it was Payne who aided and abetted the prince in his illegal and ill-fated marriage to Mrs. Fitzherbert. Born on St. Kitts, raised in the Royal Navy, sailor, scoundrel, confidante to the heir apparent and charismatic enough to become the lover of the future Lady Hamilton: Payne is one of the most colourful characters of our period.£875