Painting of a Adrian Fortescue wearing a read robe with the St john Cross on it under an archway.

Adrian Fortescue (1476-1539), Knight of St John

Edward Caruana Dingli (1876-1950)
Oil on Canvas
LDOSJ 1833
Gift of General Sir Henry Macleod Leslie Rundle, 1914

Adrian Fortescue was an English Knight of St John during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century.  Born in 1476 in Hertfordshire to a noble family, Fortescue spent much of his life in Oxfordshire at his wife’s family seat, Stonor Park, serving as Justice of the Peace.  He participated in England’s wars with France in 1513 and 1523 and was present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. He was made a Knight of St John in 1532. He was arrested for treason in February 1539 for opposing Henry VIII’s religious reforms. He was then beheaded at the Tower of London on 9th July 1539.

It was not until 1895 that he was beatified by Pope Leo XIII. The Order of St John had advocated for his devotion since the seventeenth-century. Painted in 1914, this portrait by Edward Caruara Dingli, came not long after the beatification of Fortescue.

As part of his early practice, Dingli would have copied old master paintings.  The original version of this painting now hangs in the Wignacourt Museum in Rabat, Malta.  This gift was noted in the annual report of the Order of St John, however, the artist is not named – indicating that Dingli had not yet found recognition outside of Malta.


The Museum of the Order of St John would like to thank all those who have supported and continue to support its work. In particular, the Museum would like to thank the following for their generosity: