Zoomable Image of Portrait miniature of Captain Charles Howard Bulkeley (1765-1814), wearing the uniform of a battalion company officer the Coldstream Guards, c.1795

Portrait miniature of Captain Charles Howard Bulkeley (1765-1814), wearing the uniform of a battalion company officer the Coldstream Guards, c.1795

George Engleheart (1750-1829)

Portrait miniature of Captain Charles Howard Bulkeley (1765-1814), wearing the uniform of a battalion company officer the Coldstream Guards, c.1795

George Engleheart (1750-1829)

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Watercolour on ivory


Oval, 3 in (77 mm) high


English Private Collection


G. C. Williamson and H.L.D. Engleheart, ‘George Engleheart’, London, 1902 (in fee book for year 1795)


Gold frame, the reverse with central aperture glazed to reveal plaited hair within a blue glass border

This is a very fine example Engleheart’s skill, which had led him to be appointed Miniature Painter to the King...

Charles Howard Bulkeley was born in 1765, the youngest of two sons of Captain William Bulkeley (c.1731/3-1801) and his wife Anne (d.1820). William Bulkeley was first commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 10th Regiment of Marines in January 1746 but was placed on Half Pay in November 1748. A year later he became a lieutenant in the 3rd Foot (or The Buffs) and was promoted captain in that regiment’s newly raised second battalion in September 1756, which was renumbered as the 61st Foot in 1758. He returned to The Buffs as a captain in September 1760 and was placed on the Half Pay of the 2nd Bn., 42nd Foot (Royal Highlanders) in 1765. From 1737, The Buffs’ colonel had been Lieutenant-General Thomas Howard, a colonelcy that was passed to his son, Colonel (later Field Marshal Sir) George Howard in August 1749 and retained by him until 1763. It seems likely that Captain and Mrs William Bulkeley named their youngest son after his former commanding officer; Sir George Howard may even have been young Charles’s godfather. Sir George Howard clearly valued and patronised William Bulkeley since, on 19th May 1779, he was one of three Esquires in attendance upon Sir George at his installation as a Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath in Westminster Abbey. In early October 1779, Bulkeley exchanged from the Half Pay to become captain of a Company of Invalids that he had raised in Plymouth from Out-Pensioners of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. He retained that rank and position for the remainder of his life but, clearly, in absentia since, on 21st October 1779, he was appointed Major of the Royal Hospital Chelsea (of which Sir George Howard had been Governor since 1768).

Bulkeley died in post at Chelsea in September 1801 but in the following year his widow was granted a King’s Pension of £100 per year, ‘in consideration of her husband’s services in the army and of the great care and attention evinced by him at Chelsea Hospital, whilst Major thereof.’ Captain William Bulkeley was the subject of an extensive obituary in The Gentleman’s Magazine of 1801, page 961. Nothing is known about Charles Howard Bulkeley’s early years; he may still have been at school when he was purchased an ensigncy in the 6th Foot in December 1778. He was given a free ensigncy in the 52nd Foot when that regiment was augmented in May 1779 and exchanged to a coronetcy in the 10th Dragoons in April 1780. He may thus have worn three different uniforms in the space of less than eighteen months, or he may not actually have served in any of the regiments to which he was gazetted – since he was aged only fifteen when gazetted to the 10th Dragoons. In September 1780, he was purchased promotion into the Coldstream Guards as an ensign and lieutenant – the regiments of Foot Guards having at that time a system of ‘double-rank’, whereby an ensign in a Foot Guards regiment ranked as a lieutenant in the Army. Once in the Coldstream, Charles served alongside his elder brother, William (1764-1826), who – after serving very briefly (and possibly notionally) in two regiments of Light Dragoons – had joined the Coldstream as an ensign and lieutenant in November 1779 and been promoted to lieutenant and captain in December 1781. In February 1785, William Bulkeley sold his commission to his younger brother and retired, so Charles became a lieutenant and captain in the Coldstream vice his brother. In April 1793 Charles purchased promotion to captain and lieutenant-colonel, sitting to George Engleheart in that rank and in that year. In May 1796 he was given the brevet rank of colonel. He retired by sale of his commission in November 1799 and died, in the parish of St Luke, Chelsea, late in 1814, apparently unmarried.

The artist of this miniature, George Engleheart was born in Kew, the son of a German plaster modeller. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools under Reynolds and the landscape painter George Barret. Engleheart’s skill and industry as a miniaturist appealed to George III, and in 1789 he was appointed Miniature Painter to the King. He painted at least twenty-five portraits of the King and many others of the royal family. He spent most of his career working in London where he built up a virtually unrivaled reputation.

We are grateful to Stephen Wood, MA, FSA, for his assistance in preparing the biography of the sitter.

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