This delicate miniature by Peter Paul Lens depicts Catherine Beresford, daughter of Sir Marcus Beresford and his wife Catherine (née Power), later Baroness De La Poer.
Catherine had been born into one of the most prestigious noble families in Ireland. Her mother was the only child of James Power, 3rd Earl of Tyrone, by his wife Anne Rickards. Her great-grandfather, Richard power, 1st Earl of Tyrone, had been a prominent Jacobite during the reign of William III who had fought against the latter at the Battle of the Boyne. Imprisoned following the disastrous Siege of Cork, the 1st Earl of Tyrone had died a formal outlaw in the Tower of London. It was only the desertion of his elder son John, later the 2nd Earl of Tyrone, following the Battle of the Boyne and his personal affirmation to William III of his Protestant religion (contrary to that of his father) that had prevented the title from being confiscated and its lands from being seized. When the 3rd Earl died in 1704, the title became extinct. However, as a mark of the favour in which he and his wife were held by the incoming Hanoverian King George I, Catherine’s father, Sir Marcus Beresford, 4th Baronet Beresford, who sat in the Irish House of Commons, was elevated in 1720 to the title of Viscount Tyrone and in 1746, by the command of George II, was made 1st Earl of Tyrone of the third creation of that title.
As a younger daughter of so important a family, Catherine’s marriage prospects were highly favourable. She married Thomas Christmas, the MP for County Waterford, in December 1748 (given the husband’s name, the month was apposite). Unfortunately, however, Christmas’s death in March 1749 meant that the marriage lasted barely four months. In 1754, Catherine married again, this time to the Rt. Hon. Theophilius Jones, also an Irish MP. This marriage was more successful, lasting until Catherine’s death in 1763. Catherine bore Theophilius three sons, Walter, James, and a third also named Theophilius. Like his father, Walter became a Member of
Parliament, sitting in both the Irish and British Parliaments; and James became a rector in County Down. Unlike his brothers, the younger Theophilius was a divisive figure. A captain in the Royal Navy, his crew mutinied in 1797 as part of the Channel Mutinies. When a second plot was discovered the following year – this time by insurrectionary Irish Catholics – Theophilius was merciless, leading the prosecution of a court martial that ordered severe punishments that included the hanging of eleven men. Theophilius later attained the rank of Admiral, one of the highest in the British fleet. Catherine, however, was to know little of the achievements of her children: she died in 1763, when the youngest of her children was aged only three-years-old.