Lieutenant George Henry Mason was a staff officer of the 36th (Herefordshire) Regiment of Foot, whose regiment served in India between 1783 and 1798. Mason served as Lieutenant in the British Army from 1781. Whilst in India, he served as Major of Brigade to His Majesty's forces on the coast of Coramandel in the South West of the country.
After completing his tour in India, Mason travelled to China where he developed a fascination for Chinese traditions. He documented the dress worn by various craftsmen in a book entitled The Costume of China which was published on 4 May 1800. The book is made up of 60 handpainted watercolours of craftsmen and craftswomen including a money changer, stocking maker, bookseller, arrow maker and frog catcher, with explanations in English and French. In 1801 he published a similar book, The Punishments of China, also with descriptions in English and French, and corporal punishments such as 'hamstringing', twisting a man's ears and beheading are depicted.
Mason married Susannah Jones (b. 1769) of Nass House, Lydney, Gloucestershire and they had a daughter, Mary Anne Cholmondeley Mason (1798-1880) who married John William Wilton (1796-1867). They had twelve children, not all surviving infancy, and their eldest christened son was named after his grandfather, George Henry (b. 1824).
We are indebted to Alastair Massie of the National Army Museum, Sarah Aitken of the Gloucestershire Archives, and Philip Haythornthwaite for their assistance with this catalogue entry.