The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

First Previous 1 OF 6 NextLast

Mary English (née Ballard, later Greenup)

1 of 6 portraits by William Armfield Hobday

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Buy a print Buy a greetings card Make a donation Close
  • Buy a print
  • Buy greetings card
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

Mary English (née Ballard, later Greenup)

by William Armfield Hobday
oil on canvas, 1818
29 7/8 in. x 24 3/4 in. (760 mm x 630 mm)
Given by members of the sitter's family in memory of Drusilla Scott, the sitter's great-great-granddaughter, 2013
Primary Collection
NPG 6964

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Pioneering Women, p. 49 Read entry

    The daughter of a Kentish dockworker, Mary English (1789-1846) was an adventurer and businesswoman. She first travelled to South America with her second husband, General James Towers English, who was fulfilling a contract with Simon Bolívar’s government to recruit and equip a British force of 1,000 men. Six months after reaching Venezuela, having arrived in April 1819, James died. Mary stayed on, as the representative of the bankers Barclay, Herring, Richardson & Co. As a politicised acquaintance of Bolívar’s, Mary was soon at the heart of Bogotá’s social scene. Highly sought after, her third marriage, in 1827, was to the trader William Greenup, with whom she bought a rural estate in Cúcuta, producing cacao for export. In a letter of 1829, written after William returned to England for ten years, she remarks: ‘I am now quite alone … To me this is indifferent as I am not fearful.’ Her letters home, intended for publication in the periodical press, portray her extraordinary life and character. Her papers include a poem in Bolívar’s hand, a signed letter from Bolívar and lock of his hair. In this portrait she is depicted wearing a female version of romantic ‘byronic’ costume, with an orientalising turban and Kashmiri shawl.

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 160

Events of 1818back to top

Current affairs

Death of Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, George III's Queen since 1761.
Official enquiry initiated into Queen Caroline's conduct abroad.

Art and science

Mary Shelley anonymously publishes her masterpiece Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus which reflects growing concern about the role of morality in science.
Lord Byron completes his romance Childe Harolde's Pilgrimage, whose gloomy, dissolute hero was probably based on the writer himself.


Stamford Raffles acquires authorisation to construct a fort at Singapore marking the beginning of its development as a centre of East-West trade.
Congress of European Alliance at Aix-La-Chapelle. Lord Castlereagh plays a central role in establishing a pan-Europe peace settlement to bring a chastened France back into the world of political respectability.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.

Get Creative

Enter our Jubilee family competition

Submit your family’s recreation of a Royal portrait to win some Jubilee goodies

Enter now

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

Improve your skills

Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

Watch the video

Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique