Philip Lord Wenman, The Third Viscount Wenman Of Tuam

Philip Lord Wenman, The Third Viscount Wenman Of Tuam

This remarkable 17th-century head-and-shoulders portrait depicts Philip Lord Wenman (1610-1686), the third Viscount Wenman of Tuam, Ireland. It’s attributed to English artist Cornelis Jonson Van Ceulen The Younger (1634-1715).

Philip Lord Wenman

At age 60, he reflects on a turbulent life of war, politics, and imprisonment. An inkling of a wry smile suggests a state of inner contentment, while his deep-set eyes glisten with decades of acquired wisdom.

Wenman lived during a fierce age for the Monarchy. Born in 1610, he fought in several bloody battles for Charles I, defended the King during the English Civil Wars, and conspired with Charles II when he fled for Europe. Astonishingly, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London at least twice - first for supporting the exiled King and later by the restored King himself.

So here, when into his autumn years, he peers knowingly across the centuries with a degree of relief that he’s cheated death on numerous occasions. And finally, from his home at The Tithe House in Brackley, he’s able to savour more leisurely pursuits.

Cornelis Jonson Van Ceulen The Younger

Artist Cornelis Jonson Van Ceulen The Younger has captured Wenman with sensitivity via exquisite handling. Note the subtleties in the skin tones, the heavy eyelids, and the skilful application of chiaroscuro. Jonson Van Ceulen was born in London but spent most of his life in The Netherlands and, like many of his esteemed contemporaries, his works allude to the spirit of a sitter rather than simply their aesthetic. He examines their soul while underplaying their grandeur.

The portrait employs the use of a feigned (or fictive) oval - a common addition during the Restoration Period. Several portraits of Charles II (by Peter Lely’s studio and Jacob Huysmans) are also presented this way. Perhaps Wenman was keen to follow suit and requested it personally.

An inscription in the top left refers to Wenman’s brother, Thomas Lord Viscount Wenman, and his niece Mary Wenman, so it’s plausible that it once hung at Thame Park in Oxfordshire.

Philip Lord Wenman's Timeline


Born in Twyford, Buckinghamshire to Sir Richard Wenman (1573-1640) and Agnes Wenman (d. 1617) the daughter of Sir George Fermor of Easton-Neston, Northamptonshire.

Five years prior, both Sir Richard Wenman and Agnes Wenman were investigated in connection with their links to the Gunpowder Plot. Speculation was aroused following Agnes’ affiliation with Mrs Elizabeth Vaux, the sister-in-law of Anne Vaux.


Commanded men at Carlisle (rank of Captain) for King Charles I on an expedition to Scotland during the ‘Bishops' Wars’.


Fought for King Charles I during the Irish Rebellion. Commanded 250 men at the Fort of Cork.


Fought in Lord Esmond’s Regiment of Foot during the English Civil War, probably based at Duncannon Fort.
Documented as being paid for his service in Ireland.


Documented as married to Lady Elisabeth O'Brien (b.1616), the daughter of Henry O'Brien, 5th Earl of Thomond, Ireland. She was previously married to Dutton Lord Gerard.

C. 1643 - c. 1645

Fought in Colonel Thomas Pinchbeck’s Regiment of Foot, which probably included the infamous battle of Naseby where the Royalists were emphatically defeated.


Recommended by Parliament to become a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire.


Command in Ireland ceased.


The cessation of the Second English Civil War. Charles I taken into custody to await trial for treason.


Wenman (now a Lieutenant Colonel) requested a command in Ireland.

Charles I executed.


Charles II flees for mainland Europe following defeat at the Battle of Worcester by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Wenman imprisoned in the Tower of London for high treason along with Colonel John Booth. Both accused of conspiring with the Scots to restore Charles II.

Birth of daughter, Mary.
Mary married William Croftes (c.1639-1695) who had three brothers in exile with Charles II.


Death of Oliver Cromwell.


Wife Elisabeth died in Tuam, Ireland.


The Restoration of Charles II. Upon his return to England, the King granted various annuities and gifts to those who had aided him. Wenman, however, was again imprisoned in the Tower of London.


Succeeded as third Viscount Wenman.

C. 1670

Portrait completed, probably by Cornelis Jonson Van Ceulen The Younger. Possibly hung at Thame Park, Oxfordshire.


Wenman documented as working in Parliament. Also enjoying more leisurely pursuits at The Tithe House in Brackley.


Died in Tuam, Galway, Ireland.

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