J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Nose Says No?

Before addressing the changing fortunes of Horatio Gates’s legal father, I thought I’d share visual evidence that might be pertinent to the general’s biological paternity.

You may have noticed that Gates had a long, curved nose. Indeed, it’s hard to miss that prominent facial feature in these portraits of him by Rembrandt Peale (left) and Gilbert Stuart (right).

Here are close-ups of portraits of the three paternity candidates I discussed yesterday: from left to right, Baron Horatio Walpole; his brother, prime minister Sir Robert Walpole; and Peregrine Osborne, the second Duke of Leeds.


The Walpole brothers look a lot alike, and the duke’s nose is the longest of the bunch. But I don’t think any of these gentlemen look strikingly like Gates. And to my knowledge, no one at the time claimed to see any physical resemblance, either.

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