Years ago I inherited a small portrait of a relative which I thought was painted by my maternal grandmother.  I had no idea who it was.  Recently my brother obtained, through family in England, four more similar ones which were part of a set.  It seems they were of the Jones sisters and a “great grandmother”.  The four recent additions have rather vague information on the back (including the “My great-grandmother”).  I can identify one of them only as I had her marriage details noted in a family tree.   On the back of one of the paintings is written “Mrs Mansell”, on another “Mrs Goff”.

However, considering the dates involved, my grandmother can’t possibly have painted them from life, so who was the painter? Her mother?

From recent census returns I’d downloaded, I tried to figure out who was who and also do some searches at to find any possible marriages of Jones and Goff/Gough or Mansell.

My grandmother had written 12 names as offspring of Richard and Anne Jones.  I have descendants of four of them.  I had possible christening dates of one other.  Five out of 12 isn’t great.  Of those 12, eight were girls.  I knew the marriage details of two of those eight (one of which is my great-great grandmother, Catherine).  The painting which has nothing written on the back is, I suspect, Catherine.  That left 6 girls unaccounted for and 2 remaining paintings to identify.  Census returns for 1841-1861 reveal only the names of four girls.  Presumably the others were born earlier and left home or they died young.

As mentioned, I searched for marriages.  I found a marriage of Edward Mansell to Sarah Jones but this was in 1859 and my Sarah was still living at home (as a housekeeper) in 1861 (her mother had died in 1857).  It’s quite possible that a husband died in those two years but in the 1861 census there is an Edward still living.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get details of the rest of the household – one needs money for that.  I also found a Thomas Goff marrying an Elizabeth Jones in 1843 (a bit early?) and in 1861 (a bit late).  It’s all just guesswork which is rather annoying and it doesn’t help me identify the ladies in the paintings.

Below is “Mrs Mansell”,

and her sister, “Mrs Goff”.

The other painting of “My great-grandmother” is also a mystery.  If the back of these were written by the owner of the paintings (my grandmother’s sister) then this woman is possibly the mother of the girls, Anne Jones (nee Phillips) which seems likely.

“Great grandmother” below.

I had very limited success with finding births/baptisms for all these Jones’.  There were a lot of Richard and Anne Jones couples who gave birth in Shropshire in the early 1800s it seems.  I found three that seemed definite (only one of which was a girl) and another two more that were possible (judging by the place names).  The others seemed a bit far away from the towns of the rest of the family.

So, not a lot of success overall.  Two women in the paintings are still a mystery.