Joshua Kirby (1716 – 1774)

Joshua Kirby died on June 21, 1774 and is buried at St. Anne’s, Kew.


His gravestone is no longer especially legible, and my pictures certainly don’t help.

2013-07-07 09.49.35

Here is my attempt at a transcription.

Joshua Kirby FRS-AS/ died 21st June 1774 Aged 58 / Sarah his wife / died [ ] August 1775 / Aged 57 Years / William Kirby / Son of the above / Joshua & Sarah / died 13th July 1771 / Aged 28 Years / / CGH Kirby Son of / William and Elizabeth Kirby / died an Infant / 29th October 1767 / Elizabeth wife of / William Kirby died January / 1796 Aged 49 Years

Update: Here is another view of the armorial at the top of the gravestone.



7 thoughts on “Joshua Kirby (1716 – 1774)

      1. Stephen Govier

        hi could someone give me any more details about the Kirby armorial on Joshua Kirby’s gravestone at Kew or a better image of his armorial, his family came from Kirby, Lancashire.

      2. dmelville2012 Post author

        John Blatchly, in his “John Kirby’s Suffolk: His Maps and Roadbooks” is cautious. He says “John Kirby’s origins are elusive. According to his grandson William the well-known entomologist, he was descended from a north-country Royalist who, his circumstances reduced by his loyalty, brought his family to Halesworth. The reference supports William Kirby’s belief that his father William used the arms of the Lancashire Kirkbys of Kirby, a family with Royalist leanings, mentioned in heraldic visitations. The only John Kirby in the Halesworth registers was born to a local shoemaker, Stephen, in 1682 and died in 1736.”

  1. brianlynch731

    The date interests me. As I think I may explained before on this forum, I am researching the life and work of the Italian artist and architect Vincenzo Valdrè (1740-1814). When the English architect Richard Norris went to Rome at the end of 1770 he brought with a letter of introduction from Kirby to Valdrè, who soon began to teach him drawing, and continued to do so, almost every day, until the middle of 1772. I once thought Kirby was John Joshua but am now convinced, thanks to this site, that the letter writer was his son.The significance of the date, for my study, is that for some months prior to it Valdrè had been in London – he exhibited a large scale painting, now lost, called Jupiter and Thetis, at the annual exhibition of the Society of Artists in April, giving as his address 20 Frith Street, Soho. I wonder was Kirby senior and/or junior in London at that time and did they meet Valdrè.

    Thanks again for your valuable work.

    Brian Lynch

    1. dmelville2012 Post author

      Joshua Kirby’s health was bad in early 1774, enough so that the Board of Works took the unusual step of appointing an assistant in February:
      February 4th 1774
      The Board took into consideration the great Expense of Works done and still doing at Richmond and Kew, and likewise the ill state of Mr. Kirby’s (the Clerk of the Works there) health, which unfortunately disables him from superintending the Works.
      Order’d that Mr. John Robinson (Clerk of the Works at Greenwich house) do immediately go to assist Mr. Kirby in his duty as Clerk of the Works at Richmond and Kew, And that Mr. Robinson the Secretary [of the Treasury] write to Mr. Kirby to acquaint him therewith. (Work 4/15)

      William Kirby, Joshua’s son, died in July 1771. Do you know if Richard Norris has any comments about Kirby in his Italian travel diaries? I have not seen them.

      1. brianlynch731

        Dear Professor Melville,
        I wonder do you know that the Royal Collection website has uploaded images of all their holdings of William at
        It can be a little tricky to navigate the site but here is a link that opens on a page, from where it is easier to scroll through the images
        To me they are evidence that he was not just an architect but an artist of outstanding promise.
        You will notice that amongst William’s drawings some are credited as collaborations with Giovanni Stern. The literature on him is sparse, but he wrote two books and seems to have been well regarded.
        I am about to begin the chapter on Kirby in the Valdrè biography.
        Best wishes, Brian Lynch
        PS my email is

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