On the reverse there is a hand written note that reads "Mary Marshall, wife of Spotswood Burwell, great grandmother of Sallie Spotswood Allen". Mary Green Marshall (Polly) was born 13 Dec 1792 Mecklenburg County Va. and died 12 Jan 1856.
Her parents were William M Marshall (24 Apr 1767-12 Feb 1854) and Nancy Wortham (12 Sep 1769-17 May 1837) who were married on 15 Dec 1786 in Warren, North Carolina
Mary Green Marshall married Spotswood Burwell (1785-1855) on 6 Oct 1808. It is possible that the miniature is a wedding portrait.
At the time of her marriage, Mary was aged only 15. For family bible information about her, see Wortham and Marshall Family Bible
Spottswood Burwell was descended from General Alexander Spotswood, Governor of Virginia. His parents were Lewis Burwell and Anne Spotswood.
It is possible the portrait may be of an earlier generation, perhaps of Mary's mother-in-law Anne Spotswood Burwell or her mother Nancy Wortham Marshall, as the costume looks to be from the late 18C, whereas Mary Marshall was born in 1792.
One issue being whether this type of costume and bonnet was still being worn in 1808. At Maryland ArtSource - Artists - John Wesley Jarvis there is an oil portrait by John Wesley Jarvis of Shinah Solomon Etting, dated to around 1810-1813, and wearing similar dress. Another somewhat similarly costumed lady painted by him, and dated to 1807-1812, can be seen at Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Certainly, the frame and the size of the miniature are consistent with a date of 1808. Thus given the label on the rear of the miniature, it is possible, but perhaps unlikely the identification is correct.
The miniature is unsigned, but is very competently painted and given the family's status, it must have been by an established artist. There were very few miniature painters in the general area at that time, but possibilities are John Wesley Jarvis (1780-1840), Charles Fraser (1782-1860), and Thomas Sully (1783-1872). A kind visitor has also suggested Jeremiah Paul (1795-1820) as a possibility for the artist.
The miniature was initially tentatively attributed to the first of these, as Jarvis worked in both Richmond and Charleston. Additionally, there is a miniature by John Wesley Jarvis of Mr. Nichol which has a similar frame, is painted in similar shades of blue, and has similar cloud effects in the background. The name Jarvis is also consistent with what may be a faint signature at the lower right. However, it is difficult to tell whether it is a signature, or just part of the background shading.
Jarvis was the nephew of the founder of Methodism. He came to America as a child and was trained by Edward Savage. His son, Charles Wesley Jarvis was also a miniaturist.
This miniature portrait was acquired together with a number of family photographs, and the adjacent portrait of Otis Manson and some other family memorabilia. This includes an abbreviated family tree back to Alfred the Great, on both her and her husband's sides of the family. His ancestors included General Alexander Spotswood of Va and hers included the Barons de la Warr.
For more about the family, see the adjacent miniature of Dr Otis Frederick Manson and also look her up at www.ancestry.com as a number of other family photographs acquired with the miniature have now been lodged there.
There is also a great deal of historical information available at Burwell Family Papers Inventory (#112) including the following.
The Burwell family was prominent in Mecklenburg County, Va., and Vance, Warren, and Granville counties, N.C., in the 18th and 19th centuries. Colonel Lewis Burwell, son of Armistead and Christina Blair Burwell, was born 26 September 1745, in Williamsburg. He moved to Mecklenburg County, Va., fought in the American Revolution, and served in the Virginia Assembly. With his first wife, Anne Spotswood Burwell, he had twelve children, including Armistead (d. 1819), Lewis (fl. 1792-1848), and Spotswood (1785-1855), all farmers in Mecklenburg County.
Spotswood Burwell married Mary ("Polly") Green Marshall (1792-1856), and had nine children, including William Armistead (1809-1887), Lewis D. (1813-1874), Blair (1815-1848), Armistead Ravenscroft (1820-1867), George Washington (1823-1873), Robert Randolph (1829-1892), and Mary Anne Spotswood (1825-1874), who married Dr. Otis Frederick Manson. Spotswood Burwell lived in both Granville County, N.C., and Mecklenburg County, Va.
Spotswood's son William Armistead Burwell moved to Burke County, N.C., in the 1830s to attempt a gold-mining venture, and later returned to Granville County to continue farming. He married Mary Graves Williams (1810-1896) and had one child, William Henry (1835-1917). William Henry attended the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, graduating in 1856, and then returned to Warren County, where his father had settled, to work on the farm. He was drafted into the Confederate army in 1861, but left the army upon purchasing a substitute in 1862, and moved to Alabama to marry Laura T. Pettway (1841-1871). He stayed in Alabama until the end of the war, when he returned to Warren County to resume farming. In later years, he continued to grow tobacco, cotton, and other crops, living at various times in Warren, Vance, and Granville counties in North Carolina and at his Berry Hill plantation in Mecklenburg County, Va. He married three times and had sixteen children."
[Later, a kind visitor has written to me with more information and a correction, as follows;
I have enjoyed reading what you have posted about the miniature of Mary Green Marshall. But I have one correction. My great grandfather William Henry Burwell had 13 children, not 16. He had 3 by first wife Laura Pettway, 10 by my great grandmother Lucy Cole, and none by third wife Laura Burwell Ballard Burwell who was his first cousin. She died at my grandparents’ home in Henderson, NC. My mother was very close to her step grandmother, the only grandmother she knew. Her Grandpa Burwell died when she was 7. I knew 6 of his 13 children. The last one died in 1985, age 99. He has one grandchild left. My mother died in 2003, almost 94. Grace Turner Karish, Oakton, VA ]
Much later - a kind visitor has indicated this miniature is likely by Jeremiah Paul (1775-1820).