The sitter was the second son of Littleton Poyntz Meynell and his first wife, Judith Alleyne, of Barbados. His grandfather, Godfrey Meynell, of Bradley, Derbyshire, had been High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1681. Walpole wrote of him that he 'had created a large fortune by play, and nobody doubted but by unfair play' . According to Johnson he lent Frederick, Prince of Wales, £10,000 in return for 'a bond for £30,000 and a peerage if he should come to the throne'. He was High Sheriff of Derbyshire, 1758-9, and Member of Parliament for Lichfield 1762-8; Lymington, 1769-74, and Stafford, 1774-80. He is, however, perhaps best remembered as a passionate sportsman and founder of the Quorn Hunt. He married first Anne, daughter of John Gell, of Hopton, whose brother Philip was painted by Reynolds circa 1768 (see Reynolds, catalogue to the exhibition at the Royal Academy, 1986, no. 50), by whom he had a son, Geoffrey. He married second, Anne, daughter of Thomas Boothby Skrymsher, of Tooley Park, Leicestershire. By his second wife he had two sons, the elder of whom, Hugo, of Hoar Cross, married Elizabeth, third daughter and co-heiress of Charles Ingram, 9th Viscount Irwin, of Temple Newsam, Yorkshire, their son eventually succeeding to Temple Newsam.
'Mr Meynell' is recorded as having sat to the artist in June 1758 and May 1768. A payment of 15 guineas. is also recorded on 20 April 1762.