Clayton-Jones, Marion A - portrait of Winston Churchill

Photographic portraits of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill are very common, oil portraits less so, and even less so are miniature portraits, especially those painted while he was alive. There is so much about him it does not seem to need recording here. Research reveals this miniature was first auctioned by Grand Auctions of Folkestone on 28 November 2012 as Lot 365, under the auction description; "Clayton Jones, Marion Alexandra 1872-?, British AR Sir Winston Churchill, Miniature together with its original leather case, which doubles as a picture stand, Dated 1949, together with the 'Illustrated London News' and 'Life' memento issues featuring Sir Winston Churchill's life. Estimate: £200 - £300". The purchaser then offered the miniature three times on eBay as a Buy-It-Now, although without the memento issues, starting at £1250, but then at £750, and finally at £250 or best offer, when it was purchased for this collection.

The miniature portrait is signed inside; "Original painting of Mr Winston Churchill by Marion A Clayton-Jones 1949".  Thus it was painted before he was knighted. At 4.00 o'clock on the front it is also initialed MCJ. Sometimes the name seems to be hyphenated and sometimes not, which makes it tricky to search for her, but in the 1901 census she is recorded as married, aged 28, and born in Middlesex. Her birth was 26 Dec 1871 St Johns,Tottenham, England. Some records suggest she died in 1940, but that does not fit with the signature on the miniature which records a date of 1949. It seems more probable that she was the Marion Alexandra Jones who died on 13 June 1957 at Tonbridge, Kent. That also makes some sense as Churchill lived at Chartwell, Mapleton Road, Westerham, TN16 1PS, Kent only ten miles away. Thus the miniature does seem very likely to be an original portrait painted from life in 1949, unless a similar photographic pose emerges. Further confirmation is in her probate record which shows her name as Marion Alexandra Clayton-Jones, living at 29 Hadlow Road Tonbridge, likely with her son, and leaving an estate of £578-5-11, with her son Edward as executor. Edward married Mary Shelmerdine in 1932. Thus Marion lived from 1871-1957 and was 86 when she died. Indeed she was in her late 70's when she painted the miniature, with the quality of it commendable given her age. 

Marion becomes clearer in the 1911 census, As Marion Alexandra (nee Clarke), living at Silverton, Devon, with her husband Owen Clayton-Jones born at Pitminster in Somerset, a medical practitioner, who was aged 54, compared to her 39, and they had a son Edward Clayton Jones aged 6, born in Devon, as well as two servants. As the census records two living children, there must have been another child, perhaps then at boarding school. It appears Edward Clayton-Jones became assistant editor of The Lancet. What happened to the other child is unknown.

The Grave of Dr Owen Astall Clayton Jones (1857-1927) is recorded at Dr Owen Clayton-Jones (1857 - 1927) - Find A Grave In 1884 he gave evidence as a witness in a murder case;
On 24th December I was acting as house surgeon at the London Hospital—the deceased was brought there—he had three wounds on his head; they looked like cuts, but they were beginning to heal—one was on his head, one on his hand, one on his ear, and one half an inch above it, that was a very slight wound, and one on the middle line about two inches behind the roots of his hair—there was a scab on his nose as if he had had a wound there—I attended him till the following Saturday, when he died from hemorrhage of the brain, as part of his skull was driven in—he was never sensible—I made a post-mortem examination—bleeding into the cavity of the brain was the cause of death, but there was no direct connection between the wounds and the bleeding.

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