The Edgars were a prominent, and extensive, Suffolk family. William Edgar, Robert Edgar, and Meleson [Mileson] Edgar all subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account, and Mileson and Robert subscribed to the first edition of Method of Perspective. The patriarch of the Ipswich branch was Thomas Edgar (c. 1602 – 1692), Recorder of Ipswich and Reader of Grey’s Inn. He married Mary Poule, who herself lived to be 80, and they had 10 children. Of these, only two, Thomas, and Devereux, had children. The son Thomas (1646—1677) became a barrister and died of smallpox. He married Agatha Mileson, and among their children was a son, Mileson Edgar (1673—1713), who was also a lawyer. Mileson married Alice Shaw and had a son, Mileson, and two daughters, Alice and Agatha. This son Mileson married twice, the second time to someone from the D’Eye family, but her first name is not recorded. This Mileson probably died around 1747, so the subscriber to the Historical Account could be either him, or his son Mileson, but the Method of Perspective subscriber is certainly the son. Mileson Edgar (III) was born about 1728 and went up to Cambridge in 1747 and died in 1770, leaving a collection of children, including another Mileson. So far we have only taken care of one subscriber. Going back to Thomas the elder, we look at the other branch of the family via his son Devereux. Devereux Edgar (1651—1739) owned extensive estates in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, and Essex. He married Temperance Sparrow their eldest son was Robert Devereux Edgar (1682—1750). Robert Edgar studied at Queen’s College, Cambridge, was a member of Gray’s Inn and was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1747, the year before Lamb Barry. He is probably the subscriber Robert. Robert Edgar married Elizabeth Harrington, and they had children Robert, Elizabeth and Katharine. This Edgar branch were important patrons of Gainsborough, and he painted portraits of (at least) all three children, and Robert’s wife Susannah Gery. Most of these portraits are in private hands and their whereabouts are unknown, but the portrait of Elizabeth Edgar was sold at Christie’s in 2001. The Edgar family also possessed a number of Gainsborough landscapes. I am still not sure exactly where William Edgar comes into the picture. It was a widespread family. He is probably the William Edgar of Glemham Magna, but Edgars are recorded there since the 1200s. The Ipswich and Glemham Magna branches split at least a generation before the first Thomas Edgar. One other intriguing connection comes through an advertisement in the Ipswich Journal for 8 July 1749 offering a house to let in Ipswich and directing interested parties that “For further Particulars enquire of Mrs. Edgar of Wickham-Market, or Joshua Kirby, Painter, in Ipswich”. I will end with a report of a long-forgotten good deed by Mileson Edgar (II) from 1736. From the Ipswich Journal is this announcement, datelined Trimly, Nov. 1, 1736:
Whereas my Son and my Nephew were out a Coursing at Nacton, one Day last Week; with Milleson Edgar, Esq; and in their return Homeward, were seen by Mr. Stebbing, as they were beating a Field there (with a Hare in their Custody, which was given them by Mr. Edgar) upon which Mr. Stebbing made Information, upon Oath, against my Son and my Nephew, before one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace. I RICHARD WOODTHORP do, in this Publick Manner, give my humble Thanks to Milleson Edgar, Esq, for his very generously paying the Ten Pound Penalty, that was this Day, upon their Conviction, levied upon them. I shall in another manner, acknowledge my Obligation to the R—- Informer, for the great Pains he has taken, and going to much out of his Way, to reclaim the Youths from the crying Sin of Hare Slaying. RICHARD WOODTHORP.