Sir Charles Frederick

Sir Charles Frederick (1709—1785) was a subscriber to the second edition of Kirby’s Method of Perspective, and one of his sponsors for Fellow of the Royal Society. He was born in Madras, India, where his father Sir Thomas Frederick was on the council of Fort St. George (according to the DNB and Spier-Kagan) or governor of Fort St. David (according to the History of Parliament). He was educated back in England at Westminster School and New College, Oxford and then proceeded to the law, entering Middle Temple in 1728. An antiquarian with particular interests in numismatics and architecture, he joined the Society of Antiquaries in 1731 and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1733 before he was twenty-five.

In 1737 he set off for Italy and points East with his elder brother John, viewing antiquities and building up his collections. According to Spier-Kagan, they visited “Genoa, Pavia, Milan, Parma, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Venice, before going on to Constantinople and perhaps other destinations in the Near East, returning through Paris early in 1740″ (38). While in Rome in 1738, Frederick had his portrait painted by Andrea Casali.

Frederick was an accomplished draughtsman, producing numerous drawings of architecture and sculpture for the Society of Antiquaries, as well as drawing his own extensive coin collection. It was presumably his concern for draughtsmanship that accounted for his interest in Kirby’s works.

On his return to England, Frederick was elected a Member of Parliament, first for New Shoreham from 1741 to 1754 (succeeding his brother John), and then for Queenborough from 1754 to 1784. However, he was less a politician than a civil servant. In 1746, he was appointed Clerk of the Deliveries for the Board of Ordnance and in 1750 promoted to Surveyor General of the Ordnance, a post he held until 1782. He appears not to have spoken in parliament on any topic except those directly related to his work in the Ordnance department. In his capacity with the Ordnance, he was in charge of the fireworks display in Green Park in 1749 celebrating the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, for which Handel composed the ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks‘. He was made a Knight companion of the Order of the Bath in 1761.

Charles Frederick married Lucy Boscawen (1710—1784), eldest daughter of Hugh Boscawen, first Viscount Falmouth, in 1746. Together they had six children, four sons and two daughters.

When Frederick died in 1785, his will directed that his collections of books, coins, and other antiquities be sold at auction. Among the books auctioned, Frederick had Kirby’s Method of Perspective, listed as from 1754, which would make it a first edition, although he subscribed only to the second. He also had a copy of the Suffolk Traveller of 1735, a book listed as Kirby’s Perspective in 2 volumes, folio, of 1765 which really ought to be the Perspective of Architecture of 1761, as well as a copy of Thomas Malton’s Perspective from 1776, and a presentation copy of John Lodge Cowley’s Theory of Perspective of 1765.



HoP Commons: 1715—1754; 1754—1790.

Spier, Jeffrey; and Kagan, Jonathan. `Sir Charles Frederick and the forgery of ancient coins in eighteenth-century Rome’. Journal of the History of Collections
12 (1) (2000), 35—90.

9 thoughts on “Sir Charles Frederick

  1. Pingback: Joshua Kirby, F.R.S. | Kirby and his world

  2. gina

    Does anyone have knowledge about a Antique wooden compact made of wood and painted …. The painting is Victorian era , the man and women look to be John Kirby and his wife ? The water fountain in the picture is in a picture drawn by Thomas Gainsborough a good friend of KIRBY son Joshua John Kirby it’s called ” Lady sitting in park reading”…….. It’s signed J.Kirby , I’m not sure if it’s John Kirbys son. This compact I’m told could of been hand made and gifted to one of their wives ? I’m trying to find out if it was ever sold in auctions? I need to find out this information so I can put it on Ebay ….. if anyone has knowledge about my compact could you please leave a message ? Thank you

  3. gina

    Absolutely …. I wish I could post a picture to share with everyone on the blog ….. It’s a gorgeous piece of J.Kirby history !

      1. gina

        Melville2012 I just tried sending a couple of pictures of my signed Antique John Kirby compact to with no luck ? Can you please tell me where to send it and maybe you can share it with the followers ? I’ll wait for your reply…. Thank you gina

      2. Gina Labb

        I hope these pictures reach everyone on Kirby and his world ? Update I was recently informed it not only could be John Kirbys home made Antique Compact , it could also be made and painted by one of his sons Joshua Kirby ? If ANYONE has signatures by either John or Joshua Kirby would you please share them ? I am trying to get this on ebay so any collector or follower of the John or Joshua Kirby can enjoy this piece … Again thank you , Gina

        On Wednesday, June 4, 2014, Kirby and his world wrote: > dmelville2012 commented: “If you do post a picture anywhere, please do give us a link.” >

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