Auction company Christie’s are to auction a family portrait later this summer which has on the back of it written ‘William Russell of Basing with wife Mabel and their daughters Ann, Mabel, Elizabeth and Jane’.

Christie’s were keen to know more about him and asked through our website for any information about him.

William Russell, who has been mentioned in the portrait, was born in 1694 and died in 1767.

The Russells were an upwardly mobile Basingstoke family, owning Bedford House in Church Street (where M&S Food Hall is today).

They acquired land in Eastrop fields at the time of the Enclosures, eventually creating the mansion known as Goldings, (where the Registrar’s office is today).

William’s father had been an apothecary (pharmacist) but his brother John was Town Clerk for 35 years, and indeed William was elected by the Corporation as Recorder for Basingstoke.

However, William was sacked from the office of Recorder for behaviour at a council meeting which had “reflected on the said body in a very gross and opprobrious manner”. It would be fascinating to know what he had done!

William had two brothers and two sisters. We assume he lived in Old Basing, but we don’t know where, although he owned land in the village in ‘Ryley Field’ and also a cottage.

It was his niece and nephew who lived in Goldings – Lucy, who never married and her brother Francis and wife Anne who had no children. Both were wealthy.

But William of Basing left little – bequests to his surviving daughters of £1 1s [around £200 today] and the same to his grand-daughter, Ann Henchman.

Records also show that the will was not executed promptly – his wife Mabel was sole executrix; debts remained after his death and were pursued by family members.

His will asked for a modest grave in Old Basing – perhaps someone knows the location of it.

In spite of all this, he has left us a portrait and not a bad one at that. The artist is not known, and it is possible that not all the daughters were alive at the time as only Elizabeth and Jane appear in later documents.

His grand-daughter Ann Henchman married a man named Apletre. Their son William married Frances Shipperdson, who inherited Goldings from her aunt Anne Russell.

Despite seemingly leaving more debts than money , it was his descendants who lived in Goldings for the next 100 years.

Any readers who know more about him, do get in touch.