Monthly Archives: February 2013

Thomas Fonnereau

Thomas Fonnereau (1699-1779), MP for Sudbury, subscribed to Joshua Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account of 1748, as well as Canning’s Gifts and Legacies of Ipswich of 1747. The Fonnereaus were a wealthy Huguenot merchant family based in London. When the father, Claude Fonnereau, died in 1740, he left nine children and vast wealth. Thomas, the eldest son, inherited £40,000, enough to keep in politics for life, as well as Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, which his father had bought in 1734 from Price Devereux, 10th Viscount Hereford, who had sold the house after his wife died.

The Fonnereau family had extensive dealings with the Gainsboroughs of London, the painter’s uncle Thomas, and his son Thomas, and there are persistent claims that Thomas Fonnereau was an early patron of Gainsborough. Adrienne Corri certainly thought so, although later scholars have cast doubt on her arguments. However, early on, sometime in the late 1740s, Gainsborough did paint a view of Ipswich from the grounds of Christchurch.

Thomas Fonnereau was MP for Sudbury from 1741 to 1768, voting reliably on the government side. In December 1745, The Rev. Gibbon Jones preached a sermon “Fear God and and honour the King”, and the printed version was dedicated to Thomas Fonnereau. Sudbury was renowned as a particularly corrupt seat, and therefore very expensive to contest. The History of Parliament Online notes, “the borough had a well-deserved reputation for venality”, and Susan Sommers said of Sudbury, “it offers the historian an unself-conscious example of eighteenth-century political corruption at its most exuberant”.

The story that brings together Gainsborough, Fonnereau and elections is told (at second hand) in Whitley’s 1915 biography of Gainsborough.

According to a story told by William Windham (Pitt’s Secretary for War), his earliest supporter was Mr. Fonnereau, a member of the family which long owned the beautiful old house in Christchurch Park, Ipswich, where the effigy of Tom Peartree is now to be seen. Windham, who did not like Gainsborough, and described him as dissolute and capricious and not very delicate in his sentiments of honour, says that Mr. Fonnereau gave him his first chance by lending him £300, and that the painter was afterwards so forgetful of this benefit as to vote against his patron’s interest in a parliamentary election. “His conscience, however, remonstrating against such conduct, he kept himself in a state of intoxication for the time he set out to vote till his return to town, that he might not relent of his ingratitude.” The only thing that gives the slightest colour to this remarkable story is that one of the Fonnereaus was for a time the parliamentary representative of Sudbury.

Gainsborough was twenty for the election of 1747, and supposedly still living in London, and by the election of 1754, he had moved to Ipswich. If there was any truth to the story, though, he would have been voting for Richard Rigby, put up by the Prince of Wales, who sent him down to Sudbury in 1747 with a bodyguard of prize fighters.

The course of true love

The Ipswich Journal of November 16 1728 carried this sad advertisement:

Whereas Elizabeth the Wife of John Danford of Martlesham in the County of Suffolk, Blacksmith, hath lately Eloped from her said Husband, and carried with her several Houshold Goods and some Money: These therefore give Notice, that is any Person give the said Elizabeth any Credit, or Entertainment, without the knowledge of her said Husband, such Debts shall not be paid after the Date hereof, and if any such Persons shall entertain her, of the said Goods, without given Notice, or bring the said Goods to the said John Danford, they with be Prosecuted. As Witness my Hands the 18th Day of November Anno Dom. 1728. JOHN DANFORD.

Happily, two weeks later came this announcement:

Whereas by an Advertisement of the 23d of November last in this Paper, ’twas inferred that Elizabeth the Wife of John Danford of Martlesham in the county of Suffolk, Blacksmith, had Elop’d from him with some Effects and Money, and that no Person should entertain her, This is to give Notice to all Persons, that the said Elizabeth is return’d again to her Husband with his Effects and Money. JOHN DANFORD.

Or perhaps, not so happily. A month afterwards, the Ipswich Journal readers were entertained with this next notice in italics:

January 3, 1729. Whereas it was Advertis’d in this Paper of Nov. 23 that Elizabeth the Wife of John Danford of Martlesham in the County of Suffolk, Blacksmith, had lately Eloped from her said Husband, and carried with here several Houshold Goods and Money: These therefore are to give Notice to all Persons, that the said Elizabeth was not Elop’d from her Husband, but gone to see her Sisters, and carry’d away no Goods, but I did this in my Passion which I now Repent, but she shall have the same Liberty as a Wife ought to have. JOHN DANFORD

I hope she was satisfied.

Campbell on Education

Robert Campbell’s The London Tradesman was published in 1747. As his subtitle stated, he produced “A Compendious view of all the trades, profession, arts, both liberal and mechanic, now practiced in the cities of London and Westminster”. It is a great place to go if you want to know what an Upholder did, or what are the requirements to be a Mantua-maker, “It requires a vast Stock of Patience to bear the Tempers of most of their Customers, and no small Share of Ingenuity to execute their innumerable Whims”. I don’t know how popular his work was at the time, but his compendious view and robust prose have made him one of the go-to guys for commentators on 18th century trade. He does unfurl sentences in an 18th-century manner, though, so quoting him can get extensive quite rapidly. Campbell’s target audience was more than modern scholars. Besides a description of the various trades, he also wanted parents to buy the book to see what trade little Jane of Johnny should go into, “Calculated for the instruction of parents and instruction of youth in choice of business”. To this end he espoused (at length) an interesting philosophy of education. John Locke is often cited as important in the thinking of 18th-century education, but his advice was intended for the upper classes. Campbell was aiming at those whose children would go into trade. His position can be summarized as that all men are created unequal. There are many different trades and they require different skills and inclinations. Different people are differently endowed with tendencies towards different skills and wise parents will observe their children carefully and act accordingly. Chapter One of his work is entitled, “Advice to Parents, to study and improve the Genius, Temper, and Disposition of their Children, before they bind them Apprentices”. Campbell rails against the sad state of parenting in the world, “It must be lamented, that Parents, for the most part, are guided in the Management of their Offspring by a Set of Notions in no measure conducive to promote the great Ends of Life, the Happiness of Society, or the Prosperity of those to whom they have given a wretched Being: Pride, Avarice, or Whim are the chief Consellors of most Fathers, when they are deliberating the most serious Concern in Life, the Settlement of their Children in the World”. To instruct the parents who bought his book in the right way of raising children, Campbell used the metaphor of the garden. Children are like small plants, and the wise gardener trains up different plants according to their strengths and natures.

Man, in all respects, is like a Plant, and requires both in Mind and Body the same Culture and tender Care that is necessary for a mere Vegetable: The skillful Gardener knows the Disposition of his Plan, the Soil proper to nourish it, the Diseases and Casulaties to which it is liable; watches is several Changes, forwards its Growth, or checks its Luxuriancey, as Discretion directs him: In the same manner, the wise and tender Parent endavours to discover the Disposition of his Child, encourages the Grwoth of every Virtue that discovers iteself in its Infant Mind, stifles the Growth of Error, Obstinacy, and Self-Will, checks the luxuriant Over-flowings of Fancy, and gently guides the Understanding to Objects prper for its Enlargement. When the Parent has observed the Mind take a Bent to any particular Study, he ought to be carefule to obbserve if it is the natural Product of the Soul; if it owes its Original to Nature, or to Chance of Accident. Children naturally mimick every Thing they see, and are fond of imitating every Thing new that occurs … When by this String the Parent has found out the Natural Bent of the Mind, and thus distinguished it from the wanton Sallies of the Infant Imagination, of accidental Impressions, they are then to cultivate its Growth, check all Weeds that may stifle it, and guard against all Casulaties that may retard its Perfection. They are by no means to endavour to divert it, but improve it to the bset Advantages; and in its Education study every Thing that may improve it: Nature and Art thus co-operating, the Production must be perfect and arrive at Due Maturity.

There is more, much more, and he fully develops his arguments, of which I have given but a taste here. I find such a stance on eductation in 1747 really quite remarkable. Do read the book: you will not regret the couple of hours you lose dipping into it. You can use the link below.

See also:

Campbell on Book-Sellers

Theodore Eccleston

Theodore Eccleston subscribed for two set of Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account, and continued to support Kirby with a subscription to the first edition of Method of Perspective. The Ecclestons were from London, but Theodore’s father John had married into the Harwood family (also Quakers) who had property in Crowfield, Suffolk, north of Ipswich, and Theodore is identified as living at Crowfield Hall, although he retained property in Mortlake that had been in the family on his father’s side.

Theodore Eccleston’s grandfather, also called Theodore had been a prominent Quaker divine in the seventeenth century. His father, John, was a substantial merchant and became a director of the East India Company. Richard How was a partner in their business. When she was fifteen in 1725, Theodore’s sister Isabella eloped with the coachman, John Everard, who married her falsely claiming that she was over 22. The couple ran away to the Netherlands, secretly aided by Richard How, while her father searched for the couple. Everard was declared an outlaw, and Isabella’s inheritance forfeited, but the property she inherited was held for her younger brother, Theodore, who was only 10 when she ran away. The couple stayed abroad for several hard years before slipping back into England and being set up in the North, away from her father.

Theodore himself was a noted campanologist, and was an early member of the bell-ringing society, the Ancient Society of College Youths. He gave a full peal of ten bells to the church at Stonham Aspall nearby, although the tower had previously only accommodated five bells and had to be remodeled. In 1746, he intended two bells for the church at Mortlake, but the tower there could not hold them and they ended up in Fulham, where they brought the tower up to full peal of ten bells.

Theodore’s passion for bell-ringing suggests he was no longer actively a Quaker, although he maintained ties with local Quakers. He had a horse “stolen or strayed” while visiting a friend in 1740, and a saw stolen from a saw-pit at his house in 1747, for which he offered a guinea reward. He had one son, who died young. He was clearly reconciled with his sister, whatever his father’s objections had been, and in his will of 1753 he provided £100 for each of her then-living six children (she had several miscarriages and may have lost other children – she had named the first Theodore) and a further £100 (each) to any children of her then-current pregnancy. Theodore’s executor, who also received the bulk of his estate, was Samuel Alexander, a Quaker, who in his turn passed on his fortune to a nephew who was one of the Alexanders who were bankers in Ipswich. Among other he also gave bequests to John Anstis, and the Rev. Henry Anstis, to whom he rather charmingly also left “all my Angling rods”. Clearly an avid fisherman, he also left three peter boats to a Capt. John Cooksly.

Kirby and the Carthaginians

In the hierarchy of art as understood in the 18th century, at the pinnacle was history painting. From the 1740s to 1760s, English portraiture developed rapidly and became popular, however, those who could afford history painting (which tended to be large) mostly still looked to the Continent for their artists. In 1768, George III commissioned a series of history paintings from Benjamin West (from Pennsylvania). One of these was The Departure of Regulus, painted in 1769.

This was a time of turbulent politics among London artists. Kirby had been roped in as president of the Society of Artists, but a rival group led by Sir William Chambers (Kirby’s boss) was in the process of founding the Royal Academy (without Kirby’s knowledge). Reynolds was to be its first president, followed by West.

The anecdote below occurs in a number of forms, this one is taken from Northcote’s Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Many such anecdotes are burnished over time, but the dates are plausible and this picture was shown in the first 1769 exhibition. If the identification is correct, the participants, who would have known their history, doubtless appreciated the irony.

It was just about this time that Mr. West had finished his picture of the subject of Regulus, which was painted by the command of the King, and, on the morning appointed by his Majesty, he went with it to the palace in order to shew it to him, when the King was graciously pleased to approve of it highly: and at the time, whilst his Majesty was looking at the picture with Mr. West in the room, they were informed by a page, that Mr. Kirby was without waiting for his Majesty’s commands. He was immediately sent for, and, on his entrance, the King directed his (Mr. Kirby’s) attention to the picture, asking his opinion of it; Mr. Kirby commended the picture much, and particularly that part which fell under his own province, to wit, the perspective as in that science Kirby had been the King’s instructor. Kirby asked who was the painter of so good a picture, when the King pointed to Mr. West as the artist who had done it. Mr. Kirby then observed, that such a work ought most certainly to be seen by the public at large, and hoped his Majesty would permit it to be in the exhibition of the incorporated society of Artists. The King answered, that it was his pleasure that it should be exhibited, but it most certainly should be at his own Royal Academy Exhibition. At these words poor Kirby appeared to be like one thunder-struck, and just ready to drop on the floor; it was the first confirmation he had received of the report, which before he had considered as unfounded, and did not believe. It has been said, and supposed by many, that this circumstance so much affected his mind, that he actually died soon after, of the extreme mortification it gave him.

Poor Kirby. He did survive the mortification for five years, though.

To brush up on your history of Regulus, click here.

Edward Vernon

The Hon. Edward Vernon, Esq, subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. As the “Hon.” indicates, he was at the time an MP, representing Ipswich. Although not originally from Suffolk, he had bought an estate at Nacton, a few miles southeast of Ipswich and built a house there. Vernon was a naval and political man, more celebrated, and more voluble, than Ellis Brand. Edward Vernon (1684—1757) was the second son of James Vernon, who had been Secretary of State under William III. Born in Westminster, he attended Westminster school, studying mathematics and astronomy along with the usual languages. In 1700, Vernon began his naval career as a volunteer on the Shrewsbury, which sounds modest enough, until you discover that the Shrewsbury was the flag-ship of Admiral Sir George Rooke. Vernon rose ranks rapidly, becoming a captain in 1706, by which time he was in the Mediterranean with Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s fleet and had been present at the capture of Barcelona. On their return to England, several ships, including Admiral Shovell’s flagship, were wrecked off the Isles of Scilly and a couple of thousand men, including Admiral Shovell, were lost. With his own command, Vernon was no longer on the flagship and survived. By 1708, he had been sent to support Commodore Charles Wager’s squadron in the Caribbean, arriving just too late to take part in Wager’s Action. Vernon continued to advance and by 1719 was commander-in-chief of his majesty’s ships at Jamaica. England was at war with Spain, and much Spanish treasure flowed through the Caribbean, but Vernon did not see much action at this point. Back in England, Vernon was elected MP for the first time in 1722, as member for Penryn in Cornwall (his father had held this seat several times earlier). Vernon’s father died in 1717, and in 1729 he married Sarah Best. They would have three sons, all of whom, sadly, died young. By this time, Vernon had bought his estate at Nacton and settled as a Suffolk gentleman, his fractious nature and intemperate language having caused a break in his political career. In 1739 he returned to naval service and was sent out to the West Indies just as war again broke out with Spain (the War of Jenkins’ Ear). Soon after his arrival, he led the successful attack on the town of Porto Bello. Porto Bello was a small town, but the port through which all Spanish silver from Peru passed. When the news reached England, there was massive celebrating. The restrained DNB records,

The rejoicing went far beyond the usual celebrations of victory. Vernon became a national hero almost overnight. Both houses of parliament voted their thanks and the City of London made him a freeman. Addresses of congratulations came to the king from across the country. His popular appeal was immense. Medals, pottery, road names, and public house signs bore the name Vernon or Porto Bello and his birthday became a day of celebration across the country.

Mount Vernon was also named after him. Vernon’s next target was Cartagena. He launched a massive amphibious assault, the troops being commanded by Major-General Thomas Wentworth. Such an assault against a heavily-fortified position was a race against time – as men who succumbed to wounds or disease could not be replaced. Despite initial successes, the attack failed as disease took its toll. A later attempt against Panama fared no better. Vernon and Wentworth did not get along, and Vernon, in his dispatches and private letters, attempted to discredit Wentworth. Despite his failure, Vernon was still popular in England and, on his return in late 1742, he found he had been elected MP for Ipswich while away. In 1745 he was promoted to Admiral, but his fractious nature, intemperate language and leaked correspondence with the Admiralty caused the King to have him struck off the flag list in 1746. He rumbled away in parliament, but his influence was waning. Horace Walpole acidly described him as, “a silly, noisy admiral … his courage was greater than his sense, his reputation was much greater than his courage”. Vernon was always concerned about the health of sailors and his other claim to fame stems from diluting their daily ration of rum with water and then ordering the addition of lime juice to counter the bad taste of the water. Although the benefits of citrus at sea were not fully understood at the time, his sailors were healthier than average, and suffered much less from scurvy.  Vernon’s nickname was `Old Grog’ from his habit of wearing a of a grogram coat, and the sailors gave the name to the new drink. Gainsborough painted Admiral Vernon around 1753; the portrait is now in the National Portrait Gallery collection. For more on Admiral Vernon, start at his Wikipedia page, or DNB entry. For more details on the ships he commanded, see the wonderful threedecks.org site. Admiral Vernon was preceded as MP for Ipswich by William Wollaston

Ellis Brand

Ellis Brand was a subscriber to Kirby’s Historical Account. He is a somewhat obscure figure and I know nothing about his background, although he was presumably related to the Brands of Suffolk. Brand was career naval officer and I have a certain sympathy with the author of the Biographia Navalis who recorded Brand’s entry thusly “on the 19th of October 1715, appointed captain of the Garland, and, extraordinary as it may appear, is not ever afterwards noticed.” We can do a little better. At the time Kirby’s book appeared, Ellis Brand was settled into quiet retirement and it seems most of the excitement of his life came at an earlier age.

He was born around 1681, and we first hear of him at sea in 1708 when he had a bit-part in “Wager’s Action.” Charles Wager commanded a small force of three warships and a fire-ship in the Caribbean when they came across a Spanish fleet of fourteen merchant ships and escorting warships, laden with silver. In the ensuing action, the leading Spanish warship was blown up, a second captured with its booty, and the third slipped away. Wager ordered the captains of his other two ships to give chase, but it escaped into the port at Cartagena. For their failure, the two captains were court-martialed and dismissed from the Navy. Ellis Brand, as a young 1st Lieutenant, was called upon to give a deposition against his captain. Wager returned home a rich man, and a Rear-Admiral.

Returning to England, he married (Mary) about 1710, got a first small command in 1711, bought his house at Wherstead just outside Ipswich in Suffolk in 1714 and was commissioned Captain in 1715. After the Garland, he had command of the Lyme, a 32-gun frigate that had just been refitted. Back across the Atlantic, in 1718 he led his ship and a group of soldiers in a sloop under Lt. Maynard to the capture of the notorious pirate Blackbeard. Maynard returned to Virginia with Blackbeard’s head hanging from his bowsprit, and Brand returned to a great deal of wrangling about who got the pirates’ treasure (the government of North Carolina felt it should receive the spoils). Brand was played by Paul Brightwell in the made-for-tv movie Blackbeard.

After these adventures, Brand held a series of commands, working his way up to Third Rate Ships of the Line with 70 guns and a complement of 440 souls. He was Superannuated as a commander in July 1747, shortly before his wife died in August. He passed his retirement as a Rear-Admiral on Half Pay (of 17s 6d a day, or 319l 7s 6d a year), living until 1759 aged 78. The Brands had buried five children (including young Wager Brand), but two sons outlived him. Of his eldest, Ellis, I know little, but he may be the one apprenticed to Job Wilks, Haberdasher of London in 1728, who in turn may be the same Ellis Brand who died in London in 1760. In his will, Ellis Brand gives property to his son Ellis, but is most concerned with provisioning for his son John, and grandson John, giving bequests for his education and to be held in trust. The son John died in 1764, but the young grandson did inherit and lived until 1803, to be succeeded by his own son John. Brand named two trustees, Jonathan Burward of Woodbridge (he had land in Woodbridge), and Rev. William Cornwallis of Ipswich. Interestingly, both these men were subscribers to Kirby’s book, as was Brand’s local vicar, George Drury.