Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Interesting thing

This print can be found in the National Portrait Gallery, the British Library, Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. and has turned up at auction recently. The NPG dates it 1662, so the King mentioned is probably Charles II, and the artist is unknown. The script at the bottom reads:

'aana macallame borne in the orknes of scotland in the year of our lord 1615 being presented to the kings majestties sight octobr 1662 - though my portraiture seemes to bee a man;my sex denyes me so ; nature hath still variety; to make the world her wisdome know'

We were contacted a while ago by an owner of a copy for further information on this Orkney bearded woman but all that we had was an earlier request for information on Anna published in the Old-Lore Miscellany journal in 1929!

I wonder what kind of upbringing Anna had in Orkney. Was she a daughter of a tenant farmer whose differences made her special enough to be presented at court; or was she protected from ridicule by an aristocratic birth? Macallum is certainly not a very Orcadian name and would have been more common in the Central West belt of Scotland.

I can find no record of her birth, nor any reference to her. The trail is cold.

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