Historic Paintings of Family Interest

On this page you will find early portraits that predate photography, early watercolours and sketches of our forebears, and other images of interest.

Photography was rare in Australia before the 1850s.  Prior to that time, portraits were painted in oil or watercolour, sketched, or skilfully made into delicate little miniatures.  The originals were often distributed throughout the family by Will or gifted to favourites.  As photography became popular, some of the old portraits were photographed to allow greater distribution.

Over time some have been lost to the family altogether.  The subjects of some have been forgotten, as have the names of some of the artists who did not sign their work. 

I hope to collect images of some of our forebears on this website so that all family members will have an opportunity to see what they looked like.  If you have an early family portrait or know where one is, please send me a photographic copy for this site so that others can enjoy.


Ruth Francis

Ruth Francis















Family Portrait Ruth Francis, nee Grosvenor, 1778 - 1860 and Photograph taken in her latter years.

In April 2012, Helen Ousby received this excellent photo of Gt.Gt.Gt.Grandma Ruth Francis. The photo had been passed on to Helen, on behalf of Ruth's descendants, from the estate of the lady who owned it previously, but who was not a family member.

Helen said the portrait measures 10 x 8 inches, that it is a photograph and that the bonnet and cape and hands are painted on.

The image appears to be of Ruth when she was in her 50s.  Since Ruth turned 60 in 1838, long before photography was common, it must be a photo of a painting of Ruth.


Henry Francis and Ruth Grosvenor were married at Westminister on 2nd April 1801. She was the daughter of William and Ann Grosvenor. Henry and Ruth and five of their children arrived at Sydney in 1832.

Eldest daughter, Frances, who was married to Captain Charles Kingsford Morris, did not travel with them but remained in England.

The other children's marriages were :-

  • Charlotte Augusta Ann Francis married William Henry Suttor in 1833
  • Ruth married George Morant Simpson in 1834
  • Mary Grosvenor married Thomas Charles Cadogan Suttor in 1835
  • Henry married Mary Ann Griffin in 1839
  • Grosvenor married Elizabeth Harrison Mackean in 1851

Any suggestions of where any family portraits might be would be greatly appreciated as I would like to get copies of photographs to add to those in the galleries of this family website.


Frances (Fanny) Francis

Frances (Fanny) Francis















Frances and her husband remained in England after the rest of the Francis family immigrated to Australia in 1832, but she came out to visit the family in 1865, returning to England a year later.

The unsigned painting, owned by Beth Bryant, was probably painted in England. The accompanying photograph was probably taken when she was visiting her relatives in Australia in 1865.


Henry was the eldest son of Henry and Ruth Francis.  He came to Australia with the rest of the family in 1832 and married Mary Ann Griffin, the daughter of Captain George Griffin and his wife Jane or Janet Taylor, in Sydney in 1839.

Henry  Francis

Henry & daughter Fanny















Henry and Mary Ann, and their two children Christopher and Jessie, returned to England in 1844.  In 1859, Henry and Mary Ann, now with five children, returned to Australia on the "Vimiera", first going to Brisbane, where Mary Ann's mother, widow of  Capt. George Griffin, was residing at 'Whiteside', the property her husband and sons had established on the Pine River, north of Brisbane.  After a couple of years, the Francis family moved to Sydney, eventually residing in the old home that his parents had occupied at Cumberland Street.

The unsigned painting of Henry is owned by Beth Bryant.  It may have been painted in England by the same artist who painted Frances Morris.  The photograph of Henry and his daughter Fanny was taken in Sydney about 1863.





This sketch of the "Vimiera" was drawn by Mr. Renaut, the Mate of the ship, during the voyage in 1859 on which the family of Henry and Mary Ann Francis returned to Australia. Mr. Renaut gave the drawing to Christopher Francis and it has remained in family hands ever since.












The "Vimiera" (sometimes spelt "Vimeira") was launched at Sunderland, England, in June 1851. She was a Blackwall Frigate, with a clipper bow. Her figurehead represented Fame blowing a trumpet. She had a long poop of 57 feet and a forecastle of 29 feet. These with her long deck houses stamped her as a passenger ship of liberal accommodation. The passengers' quarters were good and comfortable, and excellent food and service were provided. This was not always the case for ships bound for Australia.

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