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William Markham ('The church militant')

4 of 10 portraits of William Markham

William Markham ('The church militant'), by James Gillray, published by  William Humphrey, published 5 September 1779 - NPG D12279 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

William Markham ('The church militant')

by James Gillray, published by William Humphrey
hand-coloured etching, published 5 September 1779
9 5/8 in. x 13 7/8 in. (245 mm x 353 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12279


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Sitterback to top

  • William Markham (1719-1807), Archbishop of York; Headmaster of Westminster School. Sitter in 10 portraits.

Artistsback to top

  • James Gillray (1756-1815), Caricaturist. Artist associated with 881 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
  • William Humphrey (1742?-before 1815), Engraver and printseller. Artist associated with 69 portraits.

This portraitback to top

In this early etching Gillray shows the Church to be greedy, self-serving and militaristic. A motley procession of armed clerics are led in a weary procession by the corpulent William Markham, Archbishop of York (1777-1807), on horseback holding a drawn sword. Two young choristers lead the singing. Their chorus is corrupted by the bishops behind who sing 'Give us good beef in store, when that's gone send us more, and the key of the cellar door, that we may drink. From labour and industry - good lord deliver us'. The subject of this satire was the belligerent Markham who was attacked by the Whig opposition in the House of Lords for allegedly inspiring the Church's support of the war against the American colonies.