The sitter is thought to be one of the younger sons of John, 3rd Duke of Rutland: either Lord Robert Manners (b. 1722) or Lord George Manners (b. 1723). Belvoir Castle, the Rutland family seat (prior to the remodelling instigated by the fifth Duke and executed by James Wyatt and Sir John Thoroton in the early 19th Century), can be seen on the hill beyond; the house in the middle distance is thought to be the home of the sitter.
Lord Robert assumed the additional surname of Sutton upon inheriting the estates of his maternal grandfather Robert Sutton, Lord Lexinton. Lord Robert, however, died without issue in 1772 whereupon the estates devolved upon his younger brother, Lord George, who then also took the surname of Manners-Sutton. On 5th December 1749, Lord George married Diana, only daughter of Thomas Chaplin of Blankney, and the present picture is known to have been in the collection of their second son, Charles.
Charles Manners-Sutton became Bishop of Norwich in 1792, and in 1794 the Deanery of Windsor was conferred on him in commendam. Living at Windsor, he became very close to the Royal Family, and their influence was believed to have been largely responsible for his elevation to the Primacy in 1805. As Archbishop of Canterbury he naturally had a key role in the revival of Church life which characterised the period. His elder son, Charles, became 1st Viscount Canterbury, while his daughter, Mary, married Hugh Percy, Bishop of Carlisle and it is through her family that the present picture descended.
Devis is known to have painted another, smaller, version of this portrait which, under the supposition that the present picture was neither signed nor dated, Ellen D'Oench believed to be the original, and dated to 1754/5.