Monthly Archives: April 2013

John and William Dade

The brothers John and William Dade were strong Kirby supporters. The Dade family of Tannington Hall in Suffolk had been prominent for a long time.

1: Autumnal view of drive to Tannington Hall

John Dade (1726—1811) and William (1727—1755) were, according to the standard Dade genealogy, sons of Dr. John Dade (1651—1732). This renowned John Dade, of Tannington and Ipswich, had gone up to Gonville and Caius Cambridge in 1665/6, graduating in 1669 and gaining an M.A. in 1673. He was then a Fellow of Caius for twenty years, although he did at one point gain a licence to absent himself for three years’ foreign travel. He gained his M.D. in 1683 and practiced in Ipswich. Je was also a Justice of the Peace. In 1694 he married Jane Kemp, daughter of Sir Robert Kemp, Bart. of Ubbeston. Jane Kemp’s sister married Sir Charles Blois. Jane and John Dade had four children, two of whom died young (although according to the published registers, they died before they were baptized), and one of whom had children. Jane Dade died in 1724, and Dr. John remarried to Elizabeth Wingfield. The Wingfields were a large and prominent family, and John Dade’s grandmother was a Wingfield. Elizabeth was some 47 years John Dade’s junior, and by the time she had John and William, he would have been about 75. He died in 1732.

John Dade attended St. John’s Cambridge (with William Lynch), although, like Lynch, he does not seem to have graduated. His brother William was the academic success story. William went to Pembroke College, a year behind his brother, graduating with his B.A. in 1747/8, and obtaining M.A. in 1751. He was elected Fellow of the College in 1749, alongside such other Fellows as Christopher Smart, under the leadership of the illustrious Dr. Roger Long (another Kirby subscriber). Sadly, he died in 1755, although not before subscribing to both Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account, and the first edition of his Method of Perspective, in the subscriber list for the second being noted as “Fellow of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge”.

John Dade meanwhile took up the life of a country gentleman. Like his classmate, William Lynch, he joined the Suffolk Militia, although in Dade’s case as a Major, rather than a Captain. Also like Lynch, John Dade was painted by Gainsborough in the mid-1750s. The painting is now at Yale.

Unlike the straightforward Lynch portrait, Gainsborough’s Dade portrait had more landscape background and narrative structure.

Both John and William Dade became Freemen of Ipswich in 1753, and John was chosen Bailiff, along with John Gravenor, in 1757. In that year he was also a Steward of the Beccles races, along with Sir John Rous.

John Dade married Sarah Pullyn of Halesworth in 1749. She was the daughter of Peter Pullyn, agent of the Persons of Quality desirous of protecting their game.

A consistent Kirby supporter, John Dade subscribed to the Historical Account, the Method of Perspective, and the 1764 edition of the Suffolk Traveller.

A race against time

Eighteenth-century people liked a good wager, and bets often involved races. This led to some interesting problems in a few cases, related to the difficulty of regulating time. A race between horses, or men, from a starting point to a finishing line could be easily judged, except in very close cases. Similarly, a race against time, such as running or walking a certain distance and ending at the starting point could be easily adjudicated. A trickier problem was a race against time over a distance with different starting and finishing points. The problem became one of calibrating or synchronizing clocks. This was a significant 18th-century concern—the most important aspect being the search for an accurate method of determining longitude, a problem which turned out to be one of time, rather than place.

An example of dealing with this problem comes from a wager on racing a horse from Hyde Park Corner in London to Windsor within an hour and five minutes for a bet of 200 guineas. The race had been talked about for weeks and a lot of money in side-bets was riding on the horse. Here is how the outcome was reported in the Ipswich Journal of February 6, 1731. Even the newspaper reports the details of timing the race.

Last Sunday Morning about Eleven o’Clock the Lord James Cavendish started from Hyde-Park Corner, on a Horse a little above a Galloway (not Mr. Humberston’s) and rode to the Lodge in Windsor-Forest, which is above Twenty-one Miles and a half, for a Wager of 200 Guineas, laid with Sir Robert Fagg, that he did not perform the same within an Hour and five Minutes. His Lordship was started by Henry Herbert of Oakley-Park, Esq; It was agreed that three Stop Watches should be set together, and in case a Dispute should happen between two of them, the Wager should be decided by the Third, which was done accordingly, but by the Motion of riding they varied so much, that by one he won by three Minutes, by another by 45 Seconds, and the Third by 16 Seconds. It is reckon’d 5000 l. was depending on this Match.

Yesterday between Three and Four in the Afternoon his Lordship return’d from thence to St. James’s in good Health; His Lordship hath ordered a handsome Sum to be distributed amongst the Receivers at the several Turnpikes through which he passed, the Gates being all left open on that Occasion for many Hours, and all Passengers rode through Toll free.

William Keable

William Keable (1714—1774) was a moderately successful artist who subscribed (for three copies!) to the first edition of Kirby’s Method of Perspective. Yale has a self-portrait from 1748 (as William Keeble).

Little is known about him—Hugh Belsey refers to him as “this shadowy artist”—but if he was from Suffolk, as Belsey also claims, he may have been related to the successful apothecary Ralph Keable of Beccles who subscribed to the second edition of the Suffolk Traveller in 1764.

His period of success seems to have spanned the late 1740s and early 1750s. He worked as a portrait artist in London, and gained several commissions from wealthy merchants (and their relations) visiting England from South Carolina from 1749 onwards, although in 1751, one of the richer Charlestonians, Peter Manigault, disdained his services, preferring the more fashionable Allan Ramsay at 24 guineas a head to Keable’s seven. The best known of Keable’s American portraits is probably that of Mrs. Benjamin Smith (Anne Loughton) now in the Gibbes Museum, another portrait with a false oval surround.

In Kirby’s subscriber list of 1754, Keable is marked as a member of the St. Martin’s Lane Academy and so was then presumably still working in London, but in the early 1760s he moved to Italy, where he died in 1774. He does not appear in Thomas Mortimer’s fairly comprehensive list of London artists in his Universal Director of 1763.

Keable’s American connections and St. Martin’s Lane Academy membership probably account for one of Gainsborough’s early conversation piece commissions, Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape currently at the Tate [it is co-owned by Gainsborough’s House – see comment below].

The painting is dated around 1748 to 1750, so at the close of Gainsborough’s early London period, or possibly when he had moved to Sudbury (although he did visit London periodically). William Keable is seated in the center playing the flute, and it has been suggested that he painted his own face. Peter Muilman (1730—1766) was the son of a rich London merchant, Henry Muilman, who, together with his equally successful brother Peter, bought estates in Essex in 1749 and retired from business. Charles Crokatt, on the left, was the son of James Crokatt, a wealthy merchant from South Carolina, who bought extensive estates in Essex in 1749. Crokatt married Peter Muilman’s sister Anna in April 1752, and the two may well have been engaged at the time the work was painted.

William Lynch

William Lynch (1726—1797) was a long-term Kirby supporter. In the 1740s, he subscribed to the Twelve Prints and Historical Account; in the 1750s, he subscribed to the first edition of the Method of Perspective, and in the 1760s, he subscribed to the new edition of John Kirby’s Suffolk Traveller. Kirby was not alone in garnering his support, as he subscribed to both works of musical scores by Ipswich organist Joseph Gibbs, the Eight Solos for Violin and Continuo of 1744, and the much later string quartets for Two Violins, a Tenor and Violin-cello or Harpsichord of 1788. The Gibbs subscriptions point to a connection with the Ipswich musical world, of which Kirby was not really a part, but which was so important for Thomas Gainsborough in the 1750s.

Lynch was from a substantial Ipswich family, descendant of a 17th-century clothier “of good fame”, and his father, Edward, was an Ipswich Bailiff. Lynch himself was to be Bailiff twice, in 1788, and 1792. After attending Ipswich school, he went to St. Johns, Cambridge, where he was in the same admission class as John Dade (also a Kirby subscriber). He did not graduate, and seems rather to have passed his time enjoying life. In the 1750s he was a Captain in the Suffolk Militia under Colonel Francis Vernon, nephew of the famous Admiral Vernon.

In his role as easy-going officer, he clashed with the famously argumentative Philip Thicknesse, then Lieutenant Governor of Landguard Fort, where the regiment of the Suffolk militia was stationed. Thicknesse appears to have harbored an especial dislike of Colonel Vernon (possibly because he was nephew of the famous Admiral Vernon), and was anyway a man ever on the lookout for jurisdictional disputes. As far as I understand the issue, when the soldiers were inside the fort, they were under Thicknesse’s purview, but when they were outside it, they fell under the command of their colonel. One day, Lynch, and possibly a few other officers, slipped off to Ipswich for a few days rest and recreation. Incensed, Thicknesse sent a demand that they instantly return, an order that was cheerfully ignored. Some time later, Lynch passed Thicknesse on the road without so much as a “salutation of the hat”. For what follows, bear in mind that our only source is Thicknesse, who wrote in the white heat of indignation three decades later (the story is related in Philip Gosse’s biography of Thicknesse from Thicknesse’s memoirs).

Thicknesse had Lynch thrown in jail for twenty-four hours to reflect on his lack of discipline and threatened to report him to the Secretary of War. Lynch, for his part, demanded a court martial, where, despite admitting to all charges, he was found not guilty. The affair (one of many in Thicknesse’s turbulent life, but one of few in Lynch’s) was only resolved by moving the regiment and replacing it with a different one. We next hear of Lynch as steward of the Ipswich races in 1758, surely a more congenial pursuit.

While still an officer, Lynch had his portrait painted by Gainsborough, one of a series of young officers Gainsborough painted around 1756. The portrait is now in the Muskegon Museum of Art in Michigan, and I do not have a copy to show. There is, however, a mezzotint from the portrait by Samuel William Reynolds, and the National Portrait Gallery has usefully put a copy on display.

His coat is lighter in the portrait, and you will notice that he does not appear in military dress. This is because, ten years after the original was painted, Lynch had Gainsborough rework the portrait, removing his hat, and covering up much of his coat.

Once in civilian life (the regiment was disbanded in 1762), Lynch married the nineteen year old Mary Fowler, daughter of “an eminent merchant”, in 1765, and together they had nine children. Lynch became one of the worthies of the town, appearing as director of charities and heading up subscription lists for various good causes. In 1794, at the age of 68, he signed up as Captain for an Ipswich Regiment of Volunteers formed to meet the threat of French invasion, and he died in 1797.


Blatchly, John, 1994/5, “William Lynch of Ipswich 1726—97”, Gainsborough’s House Review, 50—54.

Gosse, Philip, 1952, Dr. Viper. The Querulous Life of Philip Thicknesse. London: Cassel & Co.