Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of a Chaplain, probably Archdeacon Richard Leslie (1748-1804), wearing black robes and white bands, his hair powdered 

John Smart (1741-1811)

Portrait miniature of a Chaplain, probably Archdeacon Richard Leslie (1748-1804), wearing black robes and white bands, his hair powdered, John Smart
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 64mm (2 ½ in.) high
 
Provenance:
Karin Henninger-Tavcar, 2003, as ‘Gentleman from a University’. Private Collection, Germany.
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Richard Leslie was the son of James Leslie, Bishop of Limerick, and was ordained by his father in 1769. Later that year he was made Prebendary of Killeedy in Limerick and then Archdeacon of Aghadoe in Ardfert. Leslie became a chaplain in the Royal Navy and by 1791, the year this work was painted, was appointed second Chaplain of St. Mary’s in Fort St. George and Chaplain of the 3rd Battalion of Europeans at Vellore.

Whilst in Madras Leslie frequently appealed for funds towards the maintenance of ecclesiastical property and community structures such as schools, and in 1785, not long after his arrival, he is recorded as petitioning for the maintenance of a bridge outside the St. Mary’s Vestry, due to ‘the frequent passing-over of Gun Carriages’ during the recent wars. These structural repairs for the Chaplains were overseen by chief engineer Lieutenant-Colonel Maule [Cat.44], whose duty it was to prepare a design and estimate for the Vestry.

As a result of the high mortality rate amongst East India Company employees, the number of orphaned children was rapidly increasing and Leslie, along with a number of other Chaplains, did much to raise awareness and secure funds to aid their education. In 1790 for example, Leslie was nominated to sit on a committee to consider plans for ‘an institution for the relief of orphans and other distress’d male Children of the Military’ .

Leslie died in Madras on 28th June 1804 of heat apoplexy following a period of intense hot weather. The Vestry built a monument for their ‘late revered and beloved pastor’ over Leslie’s grave in St. Mary’s cemetery and also erected a tablet in the church itself.
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