Monthly Archives: June 2016

Portrait of William Duff Sr (1766 – 1836)

A cousin sent me this wonderful copy of a portrait that’s been in her family for many generations.  It’s said to be a portrait of William Duff Sr., who was my 4x great-grandfather.  I have written about William and his descendants previously: Meet the Duff Family of Perthshire, Scotland.

This painting shows William in what appears to be the uniform of a British Army footman c1790-1810, around the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

William Duff Sr.

William Duff Sr.

Another cousin from a branch of the family more closely-related to my own also has a copy of this portrait.  On the back it says, “William Duff of Berry Hill, Perthshire, Scottland”.  It is the same portrait as the first, but with more detail. In this one it looks like he might be standing on a ship.


Portrait of William Duff, courtesy of Sean and Ann Collins.

It feels almost like several copies must have been made by someone in the family who was artistically inclined and then given to various family members.

The copper “gorget”, seen at his collar is actually in the possession of my cousin Catherine Duff.  This is a photo she sent me of it:

Duff Gorget

Duff Gorget

It’s hard to make out the detail, but it’s a British Georgian crown over “GR” and laurel sprays.  Here’s a photo of a similar item showing more detail:


My cousin Catherine found this citation which lists a “Major William Duff” among the “26th British Regiment of Foot” from 14 Feb 1786 to March 1793.  Unfortunately, the “Book of the Duffs” shows this Major William Duff is not our ancestor.  Another cousin has verified that William of the 26th was not our Ancestor, but also found a mention of a William Duff who was a decommissioned officer of the Central Regiment of the Royal Perthshire Local Militia.  That is a possibility we will have to research.

The quest continues.

I’d love to find out more about this uniform and what it implies about William Duff’s service in the British military around 1800.  If anyone has more details, please feel free to contact me.