Monthly Archives: February 2013

Campbell on Mathematical Instrument Makers

Campbell’s London Tradesman naturally does not include mathematician as a trade, but he does, in Chapter 55, get around to mathematical instrument makers. We will have occasion to look at mathematical instruments, and, in particular, sectors, later on, so herewith is his brief chapter on the subject.

CHAP. LV. Of the Mathematical and Optical Instrument, and Spectacle-Maker.

The Mathematics-Instrument-Maker makes all kind of Instruments constructed upon Mathematical Principles, and used in Philosophical Experiments: He makes Globes, Orrerys, Scales, Quadrants, Sectors, Sun-Dials of all Sorts and Dimensions, Air-Pumps, and the whole Apparatus belonging to Experimental Philosophy. He ought to have a Mathematically turned Head, and be acquainted with the Theory and Principles upon which his several Instruments are constructed, as well as with the practical Use of them. He employs several different Hands, who are mere Mechanics, and know no more of the Use or Design of the Work they make, than the Engines with which the greatest Part of them are executed; therefore the Master must be a thorough Judge of Work in general.

The Optical-Instrument-Maker is employed in making the various sorts of Telescopes, Microscopes of different Structures, Spectacles, and all other Instruments invented for the Help or Preservation of the Sight, and n which Glasses are used. He himself executes very little of the Work, except the grinding the Glasses: He grinds his Convex-Glasses in a Brass Concave Sphere, or a Diameter large in proportion to the Glass intended, and his Concave-Glasses upon a Convex Sphere of the same Metal: His Plane-Glasses he grinds upon a just Plane, in the same Manner as the common Glass-Grinder, mentioned Chap. XXXII, Sect. 4. He grinds them all with Sand and polishes them with Emery and Putty. The Cases and Machinery of his Instruments are made by different Workmen, according to their Nature, and he adjusts the Glasses to them.

It is a very ingenious and profitable Business, and employs but a few Hands as Masters. The Journeymen earn a Guinea a Week, and some more, according as they are accurate in their Trade. Such a Tradesman designed for a Master ought to have a pretty good Education, and a penetrating Judgment, to apprehend the Theory of the several Instruments he is obliged to make, and must be a thorough Judge of such Work as he employs others to execute. A Youth may be bound to either of these Trades any time between thirteen and fifteen Years of Age, and does not require much Strength.

From the dry text, I get the impression that he does not know much about this business, nor care very much. You might argue that he was just tired by Chapter 55, but he is back to form in the following Chapter, on shagreen, trunk, and box makers.

So, I hear you ask, who were these instrument makers? Fortunately, Mortimer’s Universal Director of 1763, has the answer: Optical and Mathematical Instrument Makers

  • Adams, George, Mathematical Instrument-maker to his Majesty. Fleet-Street.
  • Ayscough, James, Optician. Ludgate-Street.
  • Bennet, John. Crown-court, near Golden-square
  • Bird, John. Strand, near the New Exchange-buildings. This ingenious Artist has improved several Astronomical Instruments; and the new Astronomical Instruments in the Royal Observatory at Greenwich were made by him.
  • Dollond, Peter, Optician to his Majesty and the Duke of York, and sole Maker of the Refracting Telescopes, invented by the late Mr. John Dolland, who obtained his Majesty’s Royal Letters Patent for the said invention. Strand, near Exeter-‘change.
  • Gilbert, John, Tower-hill.
  • Gregory, Henry, Mathematical Instrument-maker. Leadenhall-street, near the East-India-house.
  • Heath and Wing, Mathematical and Optical Instrument-makers; inventors of the new Theodolite for Surveying of Land; and of the Pantographer for Copying of Drawings. Strand, near the Savoy-gate.
  • Hill, Nathaniel, Globe-maker and Map-engraver. Chancery-lane, Fleet-street.
  • Johnson, Samuel, Optician. Ludgate-street.
  • Lincoln, Charles. Cornhill, near the Poultry.
  • Manning, Charles. Wapping-wall.
  • Martin, Benjamin, Optician and Mathematical Instrument-maker; inventor and improver of several Mathematical Instruments, and author of “The General Magazine.” Fleet-street. This Artist reads Lectures on Experimental Philosophy.
  • Nairne, Edward, Optical and Mathematical Instrument-maker. Cornhill, opposite the Royal Exchange.
  • Scarlett, Edward, Optician. Near St. Anne’s Church, Soho.
  • Short, James, A.M. F.R.S. and Acad. Reg. Suec. Soc. Optician, solely for Reflecting Telescopes. Surry-street, Strand. The six-feet Newtonian Telescope, In the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, was made by this Artist.
  • Sisson, Jeremiah. The Corner of Beauford-buildings in the Strand.
  • Stedman, Christopher. Leadenhall-street.

Related Posts:

Campbell on Painting

Campbell on Education

Campbell on Book-Sellers

Gerrard Oldroyd

Gerrard Oldroyd subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account in 1748. As far as I know, that is the only book he subscribed to. A “Mr. Oldroyd” subscribed to Canning’s Ipswich Legacies, but that may not be the same person. John and Thomas Oldroyd voted in the 1741 Ipswich election and John voted for Ipswich Bailiffs in 1754. Oldroyd is an elusive figure, and what little I know about him is gleaned from newspaper advertisements. Herewith is his sad story. He first appears in 1740 as a fishmonger in Ipswich, running an ad in the Ipswich Journal for several weeks.


In the Thorough-Fare, Ipswich.

SELLS RED HERRINGS of all Sorts, as Fatt Herrings, Herrings of the Night, Tanters, Plucks, &c by the Barrel, as cheap as any Person in London.

The next year he ran another series of ads: “Sells red herrings of all sorts, by wholesale, at the very lowest price”. Perhaps the red herrings were a distraction, because by 1742, they are reduced to a sideline, and his advertisement runs:

To be SOLD,

By GERRARD OLDROYD, in the Thorough-Fare, Ipswich,

PLOUGH BREASTS, and other Irons of Malleable cast Iron, so soft as not easily to be broke, and yet hard enough to last twice the Time of any wrought Breast; the Price less than the worst ever cast. If any Breast break in Six Months from the Time of Sale, it shall be exchanged without any Expence. The Maker has obtained the King’s Patent for making several Sorts of Wares of this Mettle, which exceed any Thing of the Kind in England. Proper Allowance will be given to any Person that takes a Quantity to sell again.

N.B. He Likewise sells all Sortt of Red Herrings, viz. Meat Herrings, Fat Herrings, Herrings of the Night, Pluck and Tanters, and Fine Pickled Herrings in Firkins, at 14s. per Firkin.

In May of 1743, he has a new line: “Just Imported, by Mr. Gerrard Oldroyd in Ipswich, German Spaw Water, in Large Flasks, at Ten Shillings per Dozen”. In December 1743, he is declared bankrupt, described as a “Tin-plate worker and chapman”. There are a couple of announcements in the London Gazette about his proceedings for his bankruptcy hearings, but things seem to move along slowly. In 1748, he is forced to sell his house, describing himself as a Brazier: It appears to be a substantial building. The ad ran for several weeks before Lady Day (March 25), but it did not find a taker. In April came the following ad:

To be LETT and Entered upon immediately, A Messuage or Dwelling-House and Shop, both very neatly fitted up and well situated, with the Yards, Garden, and Appurtenances thereunto belonging, in the Town of Ipswich, near the Corn-Hill there, as the same now are in the Occupation of Mr. Gerrard Oldroyd, Brasier, who has left off Trade.

For further Particulars enquire of the said Mr. Oldroyd; or of Mr. John Preston, Attorney at Law, in Ipswich.

N.B. As Advertisements have been continued in this paper so long a Time, for the Out-standing Debtors of the said Mr. Oldroyd to come in and pay their respective Debts to him, and very few have taken any Notice thereof:—All the Outstanding Debtors are therefore hereby required to take Notice, That no personal Application will be made to any of them, but that Mr. Oldroyd has left his Books and Accomp’s in the Hands of the said Mr. Preston, who has positive Orders to bring Actions against all such as shall neglect or refuse to pay such their respective Debts to the said Mr. Oldroyd, or Mr. Preston, on or before Wednesday next; that being the longest Time Mr. Oldroyd proposes staying in the Country.

The sad note of the “left off trade”.  In passing, I note that John Preston was himself a Kirby subscriber. In June 1748, there was an announcement of an auction of his household goods, listing some and noting, “Catalogs will be delivered gratis”. Finally, in September 1748, came this announcement:

To be LETT and Entered upon immediately, A Good House and Shop, late in the Occupation of Mr. Gerrard Oldroyd, Brazier, near the Cornhill in Ipswich, consisting of four Rooms on a Floor, in good Repair, well fitted up for a Tradesman. For particulars enquire of Mr. Thomas Folkard, Ironmonger, in Ipswich aforesaid.

With that final notice, Gerrard Oldroyd fades from view.

Robert Oneby

Robert Oneby subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account in 1748. The Oneby or Ondeby or Ownerby family traced its roots far back into history with many illustrious, and some notorious members. The branch Robert Oneby came from lived at Barwell Manor in Leicestershire, which would not make him seem an obvious candidate for a subscriber, nor indeed to be High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1750. Robert’s grandfather John Oneby bought the manor in 1660. Robert Oneby’s father, Robert married twice, firstly Judith Chester, who died in 1706. They had seven children, most of whom died young, but their son Chester served in the army. After his first wife died, Robert Sr married Susanna Webb, a cousin of Judith Chester, in 1709. The catch here was that although Susanna was 33 years old she neither sought her father’s consent, nor indeed informed him of her marriage. The Webbs were a rich family with extensive estates in Suffolk, including Ufford and Loudham, but her father was furious and cut her off in his will with a guinea. The father died in 1710, and the estates went to her brother John. Robert Jr was also born in 1710, the only child of Robert and Susanna. Susanna’s brother did not get to enjoy his estates for long, as he died in 1711 unmarried, and left the property to the infant Robert.

All my lands in Suffolk and all my other real and personal estate to my nephew and godson Robert Oneby, the son of Robert Oneby Esq. of the Inner Temple, his heirs and assigns for ever. The said Robert Oneby the elder to be my executor, and to have the management of the estate until his son be of full age.

Thus were his father’s wishes thwarted and the young Robert launched into the world. He married Mary Braceridge in 1743, and died in 1753, leaving no children. The most notorious member of the family was another grandson of John Oneby, Major John Oneby. Having purchased a commission, he served under Marlborough with distinction, his service marred only by killing a brother officer in a duel. When the regiment was sent to Jamaica he managed to kill another officer, but again escaped punishment as it took the victim eight months to die of his wounds. After the Treaty of Utracht he returned to London on half pay and whiled away his time drinking and gambling. One of those evenings occasioned another duel wherein he killed William Gower. Killing someone in cold blood was murder, but the death of an armed adversary in the heat of passion was not. Oneby’s trial turned on whether sufficient time had passed since words were first spoken for Oneby to “cool off”, and whether his actions were pre-meditated. The first jury were unsure, and referred the case to a panel of judges. The judges avoided the case for two years while Major Onerby languished in Newgate, but he eventually persuaded them to take the case, whereupon, much to his surprise, they found him guilty. All appeals for clemency having failed, he killed himself the morning he was to be executed. The extensive testimony of the witnesses was published and the case became one of the bestsellers of the time.


The streets of 18th-century London mingled people and animals rather more closely than we are used to nowadays, with occasionally unfortunate results. Here are a couple of brief reports of the sorts of mayhem that could follow when livestock, soon to be deadstock, escaped.

On Thursday Evening some Butchers were driving a Bullock into a Slaughter-House in Clare-Market, which being brought to the Place, and as ’tis said, smelling the Blood, broke away from them very furiously, and went up Drury-Lane, where he turn’d into a Cheesemonger’s Shop at the Corner of Russel-Court; the Man in the Shop not liking such Company secured himself behind the Compter, then he passed into the Back Room, where three Gentlewomen were drinking Tea, who all got safe away; but in walking about overturn’d their Tea-Table with all the China and with his Horns broke a Pier-Glass that was in the Room all to Pieces, perhaps observing another Bullock in it that seem’d to confront him.

Beware a bull in a cheese shop.

It wasn’t just cheese that attracted stray bullocks.

Last Friday Morning about 9 o’Clock, a mad Bullock ran up one Pair of Stairs in an empty House that is repairing in King-Street, Covent-Garden, and broke thro’ the Sash-Window into the Balcony, and went upon a slated Penthouse belonging to the next Door, which fell into the Street, without doing any farther Damage; and then the Bullock got up and ran away.

Beware mad bullocks in London. Stay safe.

John Sheppard

The person who lost the election to Philip Broke was John Sheppard. A John Sheppard also subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account, and a John Sheppard subscribed to the first edition of Kirby’s Method of Perspective. These were probably not all the same person. The Sheppards of Mendlesham, Campsey Ash, and Wetheringset were a well-to-do family who had an alarming tendency to be called John and die without children, so that property was always bouncing between different branches of the family. The original John Sheppard lived at Mendlesham and was high constable of Hartismere in the time of Charles I. He had a son called John, who first bought High House, later known as Ash House, at Campsey Ash in 1654. This house was still the seat of the Sheppards in the late 1800s. However, the second John had a son called John, who in turn had a son, John. The third John died in 1669, and the fourth only two years later. The fourth John had no children, so the estate passed to a relative, Edmund, and then to his son John. This is probably our first subscriber John. John’s father Edmund was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1689, and John himself was High Sheriff in 1709 and 1714. Hence, he is likely to be the John Sheppard who stood against Philip Broke. John married Anne, Countess of Leicester, who was the widow of Philip Sydney, 5th Earl of Leicester. They had no (surviving) children and she died in 1726. John then married Hannah Wilmot, a lady who augmented their already quite considerable estate. However, they had no children, and after John died in 1747, she married Sir Samuel Pryme, who gained a lasting reputation as a raconteur. Kirby’s Historical Account appeared in 1748, so it is entirely possible that the John Sheppard who died in October 1747 was the subscriber. It seems less likely that he subscribed to the Method of Perspective, which was not published until 1754. When John died, the Sheppard estates passed to another relative, Thomas Sheppard, and then to his son John. This John, although only born in 1730, could be the second subscriber. John, son of Thomas, never married, and when he died in 1770, the estate passed to a relative, John Sheppard, born in 1737. This John had a son, John, and six daughters by his first wife, and five sons and five daughters by his second wife. The first son, John, had only one child, John, who inherited on his father’s death in 1824. The Campsey Ash estate finally passed out of the family hands in 1882, when the last John Sheppard died without any heirs. According to the website of the Campsey Ash church, “It is believed that at least 14 members of the Sheppard [family] are buried in a vault in the chancel of the Church – but we don’t know exactly where!”

Related Posts:

Philip Broke

Philip Broke

Philip Broke (1702—1762) subscribed to both Kirby’s Historical Account, and the first edition of his Method of Perspective. We saw that Kirby had eight of the current Suffolk MPs as subscribers when his first book was published, but his reach did not end there.

Philip Broke was a former MP, having represented Ipswich from 1730 to 1732. The Broke Family had owned Broke Hall in Nacton, about five or six miles from Ipswich, since the time of Henry VIII. The old Hall was knocked down and rebuilt in the 1790s.

The modern Broke Hall

Philip was the second of three sons of Robert Broke and Elizabeth Hewytt. However, his eldest brother died unmarried, so that Philip inherited. The other brother, John, was a rector of Hintleham. Philip married Anne Bowse and they had six daughters and one son. Thomas Bardwell painted portraits of Philip and Anne, and also a conversation piece of the Broke and Bowse families.

The second work was painted in 1740, so the child is presumably their eldest daughter, Anne. The couple married in 1732, while Philip was MP. As a politician, Broke seems to have been fairly undistinguished. He was a Tory and consistently voted against the government, but he never returned after his first parliament. The Brokes were also near neighbors of Admiral Vernon, who was MP for Ipswich in the 1740s.

Philip and Anne’s only son, also called Philip, married Elizabeth Beaumont, daughter of another subscriber, Charles Beaumont, and one of their children, Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke, was captain of HMS Shannon when she captured the USS Chesapeake in the War of 1812.

Related Posts:

A Clique of Politicians

Charles and Robert Beaumont

Edward Vernon

Beer and Gin

The early 1700s was the time of the gin craze. Far from its modern image of G&Ts for the gin and Jag set, this was the cheap gin of Mother’s Ruin, with the slogan “Drunk for a Penny, Dead Drunk for Twopence, Straw for Nothing.” Gin was the drink of the poor who had nothing else. As Paulson notes, “For the poor man of this period, as Francis Place wrote, ‘none but the animal sensations are left; to these his enjoyments are limited, and even these are frequently reduced to two—namely sexual intercourse and drinking…Of the two…drunkenness is by far the most desired’ since it provides a longer period of escape and costs only a penny” [1991, III 25]. The sad fact is that Francis Place was writing a century later.

The gin craze got worse during the 1740s and the increased consumption of gin was seen (by the propertied classes in London) as contributing to crime. The magistrate (and author) Henry Fielding, who confronted poor criminals on a daily basis, was perturbed. He wrote a tract, An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, published in January 1751. To increase the impact of his Enquiry, he turned to his friend William Hogarth, presumably before the Enquiry was published, and Hogarth in turn produced his famous pendant pair of prints, Beer Street and Gin Lane.

The anti-gin campaign led to the passing of the Gin Act later in 1751 and gin consumption declined dramatically over the next decade.

Hogarth’s prints have been much-analyzed and indeed are very rewarding of analysis, but I do not want to talk about their content here. Instead, we note Hogarth’s advertisement for the prints, which appeared in the London Evening Post of February 14–16 1751.

This Day are publish’d, Price 1 s. each.
Two large Prints, design’d and etch’d by Mr. Hogarth called
A Number will be printed in a better Manner for the Curious, at 1s. 6d. each.
And on Thursday following will be publish’d four Prints on the Subject of Cruelty, Price and Size the same.
N.B. As the Subjects of these Prints are calculated to reform some reigning Vices peculiar to the lower Class of People, in hopes to render them of more extensive use, the Author has published them in the cheapest Manner possible.
To be had at the Golden Head in Leicester-Fields, Where may be had all his other Works.

While a price of one shilling kept the prints out of the hands of “the lower Class of People”, it did get them into taverns and coffee-houses, where they achieved wide display.

These prints also provide the first clear evidence of a connection between Hogarth and Kirby, for already by 9 March, Kirby was advertising Hogarth’s prints in the Ipswich Journal.

This Day are Publish’d, (Price 1s. each) Two large PRINTS, design’d and etch’d by Mr. Hogarth, call’d BEER-STREET and GIN-LANE. A Number will be printed in a better Manner for the Curious, at 1s. 6d. each. Also Four Prints on the Subject of Cruelty, Price and Size the same.

N.B. As the Subjects of these Prints are calculated to reform some reigning Vices peculiar to the lower Class of People, in hopes to render them of more extensive Use, the Author has published them in the cheapest Manner possible.

To be had of Joshua Kirby in Ipswich, and of Mr. Hogarth at the Golden Head in Leicester-Fields; where may be had, all his other Works.

I don’t know that Hogarth had any other agents selling these prints.

Related Posts:

The Perils of Drink