It has been suggested that this is a portrait of Richard Dighton (1753-1800) who went to India with his three brothers, James Lucy (see following lot), Henry and John (1761-1840). John entered the East India Service in 1778 as a cadet in the Madras Presidency Infantry. He married Sophia Smart (1770-1793), the artist's second daughter by his first wife in Madras in 1790. Sophia died giving birth to their first child, John (1793-1810). Smart's pencil drawing of Lieutenant John Dighton is in the Yale Centre for British Art, B.1974.4.938 (see P. Noon, English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures, New Haven (CT.), 1979, no. 60, illustrated p. 54).
Richard was a writer to the East India Company in Madras in 1771, factor in 1776, senior merchant 1792 and collector for the Nellore district in 1792. He married Anne King and their daughter, Sophia (1796-1825) married Edward Davies Machen, one of the sons of Richard's sister, Lucy. He returned to England in 1795 and lived near Micheldean.
The preparatory sketch for this miniature was sold Sotheby's, London, 19 October 1981, lot 189 and subsequently Christie's, London, Edward Grosvenor Paine Collection, 12 October 1982, lot 17. It is signed and dated 1790 and I for India.