Born on 19 June 1783 in Horncastle, Lincolnshire, of a theatrical family who took him to America in 1792 and settled in Charleston, South Carolina. He began to practise as a portrait painter in New England in 1801 and moved to Philadelphia in 1807.
He became an American citizen in 1809. He twice returned to England, in 1809-10 and in 1837-8. His Manuscript Journal and 'Account of Pictures' record over 2000 portraits and 550 imaginative subjects, as well as many copies. He died in Philadelphia on 5 November 1872.