The sitter was knighted after the Battle of Malaga in 1704 and two years later played a prominent part in the siege of Toulon. He was Member of Parliament for Rye, 1707-22 and 1734-49, and Portsmouth, 1722-34. In 1718 he was appointed Lord of the Admiralty, a post which he held until 1730. In 1719 he was sent to the Baltic where he successfully aided Sweden in fending off Russian aggression partly owing to his good relationship with Tsar Peter the Great. He married Elizabeth, elder daughter of Matthew, 1st Lord Aylmer.
This portrait relates to a picture attributed to Knapton in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (BHC2912). A comparable portrait of the sitter, with slight differences, is in the Government Art Collection.