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October 19, 2009

The Fashionable Male: Colonel Coussmaker


George Kein Hayward Coussmaker was born in 1759 in Kent.  His family was Dutch, and his ancestor John de Coussmaker was said and most probably arrived in England along with William III, in his suite.   They became a successful merchant family in London, settling in Surrey.  His father, George Coussmaker had married Mary Hayward in 1758, and they had two children, George K. H. Coussmaker and a daughter, Catharine (Kitty).

His father passed away leaving his mother to remarry Thomas Pym Hales, and together they had several daughters.  George moved out of the house first (surely out of necessity - a house of seven girls!) and became Colonel of the 1st Gaurds. 

Fun fact! George's mother, now Lady Hale, and his sister Miss Coussmaker (Kitty) became close with Susanna Burney (especially his sister).  Through this connection she met Jane Austen!

When he was 24 he hired Reynolds to paint his portrait.  He paid about £200 for it.


At 31 he married Catharine Southwell, who was 22 at the timeHer father was Lord Clifford. Yes he married quite well!  Lord Clifford has passed away before his daughter married and they were married under a special license.  The wedding took place on 13 November 1790 at the parish of St George (Hanover Square) at her mother's house (Lady Clifford portrait on left) on Stanhope Street.  I do not know of a portrait of Catharine, but if she inherited any beauty from her mother it is easy to see George was smitten!

George and Catharine had a daughter Sophie on 4 November 1791 and a son in 1797, Geroge (of course!).  Sadly, George and Catharine would only live to see their 10th wedding anniversary.  She went with him to Martinqiue, where he caught yellow fever.  Nursing him was to no avail, and he passed away on 11 July 1801.  Catharine had also contracted the disease and 8 days later, joined her husband in death.  The children were left to Catharine's brother Edward's care, who was at the time 21st Lord de Clifford.

Their son was schooled at Westminster and Oxford while Sophie married a Whig grandee, Lord William Russell. her brother died at the young age of 24, leaving his sister the heir to the barony of Clifford through her mother!

6 comments

  1. Thanks, Lauren! I never thought to see the Colonel here, what a treat. How did you know he's been a favorite of mine for years? I always pay him my respects when I go to the Met and it's probably one of my very favorite male Reynolds portraits. And not only for the subject matter ;) I think the artist did a fine job including the horse, which could so easily have dominated the picture.

    He's just what I need for a Monday morning. Thanks for the info. I've always wanted to know more about him.

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  2. Thankfully Reynolds had the Colonel sit for him before his handsome horse did! (mind you the horse only made it for 2 appointments lol).

    I have no doubt he is one of your favorites...

    *swoon* right? :p

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  3. Swoon is right, hehe. Can you even imagine a sitting for a horse? Do you know if Reynolds had a different room for these kinds of sittings? I should think it could get very, er, aromatic. And with fashionable people coming to visit his show room, he probably wouldn't want the two to meet. Maybe animals like the horse came earlier in the day, before the Ton was up and moving?

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  4. Nice Jane Austen connection. Thanks for this tidbit of history!

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  5. I agree - what an attractive stallion. And the horse looks like good blood, too. Yuck, yuck.
    It is a good picture and a good post.

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  6. @Paul Miller I am sure, sir, you have excellent taste, but I know many who can't pass the colonel and swoon! Horse is ok I guess. :p

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