Alexander and Thomas Bence were two of the subscribers to Kirby’s Historical Account. The Bence family had been prominent in Suffolk for a long time. Several relatives had been MPs for Suffolk in the 17th century, their grandfather was four times Bailiff of Aldeburgh, and their uncle John had been High Sheriff in 1665. Alexander and Thomas were brothers, sons of Edmund Bence. The eldest son, John, had died in 1718 and Alexander, as the second son, was senior. He became High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1733, and again in 1742, an event which prompted the London Evening Post (as reported by the Ipswich Journal) to thunder:
But Quare, Whether he is by Law compellable to serve this Office again? If he is, whether it does not become the Wisdom of a free and independent Parliament, to prevent the Subjects of this Kingdom being twice or more harass’d by this burthensome and expensive Office, and to free them from any Ministerial or other undue Influence at any Election?
In contrast to Alexander’s political office, Rev. Thomas Bence was rector of Kelsale with Carleton, “for upwards of 53 years” and of Thorington from 1722, Alexander standing patron for him. Alexander lived at Thorington Hall.
However, Alexander and Thomas were not the only connection of the Bence family with Kirby. Born in the 1670s, they were old men by 1748, and both would die in the 1750s. The eldest brother John had a daughter Mary who married Sir William Barker. They in turn had a son, Sir John Barker, unfortunately orphaned by the time he was seven. Sir John Barker became Sheriff in his turn, and was also a subscriber to Kirby’s Historical Account. Thomas Bence’s daughter Catherine married Gabriel Trusson of Kelsale, and Trusson too was a subscriber. The daughter Anne of another brother, Robert, had married one Robert Sparrow in 1740, and this is presumably the Robert Sparrow who was a subscriber, although the Sparrows were a fairly numerous family.