Old Family Silhouettes

One of the things that has come down to me from my family is a set of silhouettes of family members. They appear to be pretty old, and are inscribed with the names of the people they portray, but I have no idea who made them, or when, or if they are actual likenesses. These are the portraits and a little about each of the people.

This is Isaac Griffith (1763-1849), the brother of Martha Griffith (1770-1848) who married Hezekiah Hopkins. He was a house carpenter in Philadelphia. His son Lukens Griffith moved to Ohio and Indiana with the Hopkins family and others from the Philadelphia area. This is Susanna Young Griffith (1731-1780), mother of Isaac and Martha, and wife of John Griffith. Her parents were Joseph and Elizabeth Young of New Jersey.
This is a curious one. The silhouette is labeled Clarence Hopkins of Old England, but I've never found another reference to a Clarence Hopkins in any of the family records or in my English research. This is John Haddon (1653-1724), father of Elizabeth Haddon Estaugh of Haddonfield, New Jersey. He was an anchorsmith in Rotherhithe, Surrey, England and a large landowner in New Jersey in the late 1600s and early 1700s.

I visited the library of Haverford college, and by chance saw a silhouette of a prominent Quaker in the front of a book I was looking at. In talking to the librarians about it, and those shown above, I learned that the Quakers thought it was vain to have a portrait painted (they were right!), but it was acceptable to have a silhouette made. I was shown a book of Quaker silhouettes from the 17th and 18th centuries, and given references to other books about that art form. I'm still not sure whether the ones above are genuine, but this information makes it seem more possible.

This file was last updated on 7/15/2004.

Home Contents What's New Myself