William Digby, rector of Lackan, was the brother of the sitter, and son of Simon Digby, a miniaturist and Bishop of Elphin whose father, Essex Digby was Bishop of Dromore, Ireland.
John Digby was married to Olivia, daughter of John French of French Park. In 1759 William Digby painted her portrait seated, small full length, in a river landscape (Sotheby's, London, Nov. 21, 1984, lot 37). This painting was long thought to be the companion to a second version of the present work previously attributed to Robert Hunter (Sotheby's, London, Nov. 21, 1984, lot 35 (29¼ x 24¾in. 74.3 x 62.8cm.). However, it seems probable that it is, in fact, a companion to the present work; see A. Crookshank & The Knight of Glin, The painters of Ireland, 1660-1920, 1978, p. 84, no. 69.