Category Archives: People

Thomas Howlett, Bricklayer

The first George Warren, master carpenter at Kew, married local girl Elizabeth Howlett (1703—1766), daughter of a bricklayer. However, this description is a little misleading.

The Warrens and Howletts both owned land around Kew Green and as the royal family became more interested in Kew and Richmond and expanded their building works, the Howletts prospered.  Elizabeth’s father, Thomas Howlett (1678—1759) became bricklayer to the Prince of Wales and, in 1736, together with Joseph Pratt, he was appointed Master Bricklayer of His Majesty’s Works. Thomas Howlett and Joseph Pratt were thus in charge of all brickwork in the royal residences.

Along with his daughter Elizabeth, Thomas Howlett also had a son, Thomas (1704—1737), but these are the only children of his that I know about.  Thomas junior was also a bricklayer, continuing the family line of work.  When Thomas died, he left a house “in the Occupation of Lady Judith Coote” to his father for life and then to his sister and his brother-in-law George Warren.  George Warren died in 1755 and the next year his father-in-law made a will with provisions for the children of his sister and for his grandchildren.  The eldest, George, was given £100 and three of his siblings £200 each.  However, George and Elizabeth had wisely named one of their children Thomas Howlett Warren (1733—1777); he got the bulk of the estate.  While the younger George was a carpenter, and his brother William a carpenter and wheelwright, Thomas Howlett became a gentleman.  By the time of his death in 1777 his estate included at least 15 buildings at Kew, including the Rose and Crown pub and, rather charmingly, “a large workshop adjoining the stable, occupied by his Majesty, now in the possession of Mrs. Warren”.

George Warren, Carpenter at Kew

Those who secured a craftsman position with the government typically had a position for life, and possibly for generations.  Such was the case with George Warren, carpenter at Kew.

The first of the Warren family to appear was George Warren (1698—1755). He married Elizabeth Howlett, daughter of a local bricklayer and became master carpenter at Kew. Little is known about his life, but he makes a brief appearance in the 1730s when Frederick, Prince of Wales, acquired the White House at Kew and began extensive renovations under the direction of architect William Kent. George Warren was the carpenter and his name appears in the accounts.


White House at Kew

George and Elizabeth had at least nine children, although five of them died young.  However, the second son, George (1731—1774) continued in the family line of work, and after his father died in 1755, he became carpenter and joiner at Kew. George Warren junior was thus the head carpenter at Kew when Kirby was appointed Clerk of the Works. The younger George Warren is best known nowadays for building the spiral staircase for the pagoda at Kew Gardens.

Pagoda (interior)

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

George Warren married Anne Stringer (1734—1784) of Richmond in 1759 and together they had four children at Kew, where he was also churchwarden. However, when George Warren died in 1774 (just a month after Kirby), his eldest son, George Thomas Warren (1765—1823) was not yet ten and too young to succeed the position. The Board of Works recorded in its laconic way:

August 5th 1774

The Board being acquainted that Mr. George Warren late Carpenter and Joiner at Kew House is dead

Order’d that Kemble Whatley do succeed him as Carpenter and James Arrow as Joiner at Kew House.

George’s widow Anne kept on the carpentry business in Kew Green and on her death in 1784 it passed down to her son George. George Thomas Warren appears in the Office of Works accounts as a joiner doing various work around Kew, including repairs to the Pagoda in 1811 and 1813.  George Thomas went into partnership with his brother Henry and they expanded as builders and carpenters based in Grosvenor Square as well as Kew, but it seems they expanded too much for they went bankrupt in 1815 and the case was still rumbling on in 1829, long after George’s death.


Thomas Worsley’s Letters Patent

The warrant appointing Joshua Kirby and his son William joint Clerk of the Works at Richmond and Kew was a comparatively modest affair. The more senior the position, the fancier the document. The Hogarth Trust has a copy of the Letters Patent appointing William Hogarth Sergeant Painter, and has published a transcription of the text. Soon after his accession to the throne George III began his reorganization of the Office of Works with the appointment of Thomas Worsley to Surveyor General, the senior position in the department. The text granting his appointment on December 15 1760 was suitably florid:

George the third by the Grace of God of Great Britain France & Ireland King, Defender of the Faith &c. To all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting. Whereas Our late Royal Grandfather George the Second of Glorious and happy Memory did by his Letters Patent under his Great Seal of Great Britain bearing the date at Westmr. 30th day of December in the 17th Year of his Reign; Give and Grant unto his trusty and wellbeloved Henry Finch Esqr. the Office of Surveyor of his Works within his Tower of London and in all and singular his Honours Castles Lordships and Manors which his said late Majesty usually reserved for his Repair and abode or which he should in time then to come Appoint for his Repair and Abode. To hold the same by himself or his sufficient Deputy or Deputys, such Deputy or Deputys to be first Approved of by the Commissioners of his said late Majesty’s Treasury or High Treasurer for the time being together with the Wages & Fee of 2s. by the day for himself and sixpence by the day for the Wages and fee of one Clerk and also 4s by the day for the diet Boathire & Riding Charges of the said Henry Finch & of his Deputys & Assigns for every day which he or his Deputy or Deputys should be actually Employ’d in the said Service and likewise an Additional yearly fee or Salary of £400. And all other Rights, Powers, Priviledges, Profits and Advantages whatsoever thereunto belonging during his said late Majesty’s Pleasure as by the said recited Letters Patent (relation being thereunto had) may more at large Appear; In which said Office according to the Form of the Statute in such Case made and provided he is continued for the Space of 6 mo.ths from the time of the demise of his said late Majesty unless he shall by Us be sooner Removed & Discharged from the said Office Now know ye that We have revoked & determined and by these Presents do Revoke and Determine the said recited Letters Patent and every Clause Article & thing therein Contained, and him the said Henry Finch We do remove and discharge from the said Office by these Presents And further know ye that We of Our Especial Grace certain knowledge and meer Motion Have Given & Granted & by these Presents Do Give and Grant unto Our Trusty & Wellbeloved Thomas Worsley Esqr. the Office of Surveyor of Our Works within Our Tower of London and in all and singular Our Honours, Castles, Lordships and Manors which We usually reserve for Our Repair and Abode or which We in time to come shall Appoint for Our Repair and Abode; and him the said Thomas Worsley Surveyor of all and singular Our aforesaid Works We do make ordain & constitute by these Presents To have hold Exercise & Enjoy the said Office unto the said Thomas Worsley by himself or his sufficient Deputy or Deputys (such Deputy of Deputys to be first Approved of by the Commrs. of Our Treasury or Our High Treasurer for the time being) together with all & singular Rights Powers Priviledges, Profits Commodities Wages Fees Salaries and Advantages whatsoever to the said Office of Surveyor of the Works aforesaid belonging or on any wise Appertaining during Our Pleasure in as ample manner & form as he the said Henry Finch or any other Person or Persons have or hath held exercised or enjoy’d or ought to have held Exercised or Enjoyed the same And We do also by these Presents of Our further especial Grace, Give and Grant unto the said Thomas Worsley in and for Exercising the Office aforesaid the Wages & Fee of 2s. by the day for himself, and for the Wages & Fees of one Clerk to serve in the said under him the said Thomas Worsley sixpence by the day To have and Yearly receive & take the sd. Wages and Fee of 2s. by the day for himself and sixpence a day for his Clerk to the said Thomas Worsley or his Assigns during Our Pleasure out of the Treasure remaining or being from time to time in the Receipts of Our Exchequer applicable to the Uses of Our Civil Government by the hands of the Commrs. of Our Treasury or Our High Treasurer Chancr and under Treasurer of Our Exchequer now and for the time being at the four most usual Feasts or Terms in the Year that is to say the Feasts of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist; St Michael the Archangel; yhe birth of Our Lord Christ; And the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: The first Payment thereof to commence & be Computed from the date of these Our Letters Patent unto and for the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary next ensuing & from thence the subsequent Payments to be made Quarterly at the Feasts Aforesaid during Our Pleasure. And We have also Given and Granted and by these Presents Do give and grant unto the said Thomas Worsley for the Diet Boathire & Riding Charges of him the said Thoms. Worsley his Deputies & Assigns as hath been accustomed four shillings of lawfull Money of Great Britain by the day for every day he or his Deputy or Deputies shall be actually Employed in the said Service To have hold and yearly receive the same unto the said Thomas Worsley his Deputy or Deputies or Assigns & to be Paid by the hands of the Paymaster for the time being that shall pay the Books of the Works during Our Pleasure And for the further Encouragement of the said Thomas Worsley diligently to attend the Execution of the said Office of Surveyor and to inspect regulate & reform the Business in Our Office of the Works for Our Profit and Advantage of Our further and especial Grace certain knowledge and meer Motion We have Given & Granted and by these Presents Do Give and Grant unto the said Thoms. Worsley the yearly Fee or Salary of £400 being the same as was Granted to the said henry Finch by the above recited Letters Patent in Addition to the several Wages, Fees, Salaries and the other Advantages which he is to have and receive; The said additional yearly Fee or Salary of £400 to be paid and payable unto hi by the hands of the Paymaster of Our Works for the time being during Our Pleasure & to be inserted and paid from the day of the date of these Our Letters patent in the monthly Books of the Expence of Our said Office of Works in like manner as other the Salaries to Officers of Our Works are in the said Books inserted and paid And Our further Will and Pleasure is and We do hereby direct Require & Demand the said Thomas Worsley from time to time to follow and obey such good Orders as are already made or as shall be thought meet hereafter to be Established by Us or the Commrs. of Our Treasury or Our High Treasurer for the time being for Reformation of Disorders and Surcharges in the Office of the said Works and for the Order of all other Our Officers appertaining to the said Works And lastly We do by these Presents Declare & Grant that these Our Lettters Patent or the Inrollment or Exemplification thereof shall be in and by all Things good firm valid and Sufficient and effectual in the Law according to the true intent and meaning thereof notwithstanding the not fully or truly reciting the said recited Letters Patent or the date thereof or any other Omission Imperfection Defect matter cause of thing whatsoever to the Contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding. In Witness whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent Witness Our Self at Westminster 15th day of Decr. In the 1st Year of Our Reign.

By Writt of Privy Seal – Cocks

Charles Spackman

Charles Spackman (1791—1842) was a Dyer in the cloth-making town of Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire.  He had married Augusta Sophia Timbrell of the extensive and prominent local Timbrell family, and had as partner a Charles Timbrell; the company traded for many years as ‘Spackman and Timbrell’. Charles Spackman senior was successful in business, enough to send his eldest son, Charles junior, to Oxford University, albeit as a servitor. Although Charles senior did not live to see his son graduate, he was clearly proud of him as in a codicil to his will he left Charles junior an extra £1000 over the legacies in the main will to set himself up after graduation.

Charles junior got his BA in 1845, was ordained in 1846 and received his MA in 1850. In 1852 he was appointed vicar of Long Itchington in Warwickshire and the next year he married his cousin Katherine Crabbe, daughter of George Crabbe and his mother’s sister Caroline Timbrell.  In 1856, the couple had a daughter, also called Katherine, who was baptized just nine days after her mother’s funeral.

The young Katherine died in 1864 shortly before her eighth birthday, “after four days’ illness”.  After his daughter’s death, Charles gave up his place in Long Itchington and became rector of Iddesleigh in Devon, where he remained until his death in 1904.  He never remarried.

Pigs ‘N Beer

April 15, 1778: We breakfasted, dined, supped and slept again at home.  Brewed a vessel of strong Beer today. My two large Piggs, by drinking some Beer grounds taking out of one of my Barrels today, got so amazingly drunk by it, that they were not able to stand and appeared like dead things almost, and so remained all night from dinner time today. I never saw Piggs so drunk in my life, I slit their ears for them without feeling.

April 16: We breakfasted, dined, supped and slept again at home.  My 2 Piggs are still unable to walk yet, but they are better than they were yesterday.  They tumble about the yard and can by no means stand at all steady yet. In the afternoon my 2 Piggs were tolerably sober.


The diary of James Woodforde (1740—1803), an otherwise unremarkable country parson, is justly celebrated for its detailed picture of rural life in the late 18th century. The first extracts were published in the 1920s, edited by John Beresford, and a complete edition (in 17 volumes) was published by the Parson Woodforde Society. This quote is taken from the first volume of the Beresford edition.

Publishing Delays

John Bridges (1666—1724) was a country gentleman and London lawyer. He divided his time between his estate at Barton Seagrave in Northamptonshire and his chambers in London. He held a succession of lucrative government posts including Solicitor of Customs, Commissioner of Excise, Cashier of Excise, and Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1708, he was wealthy and well-connected.  Like many of his time, he was an antiquarian and was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.  While many leisured gentlemen took a leisurely interest in the ancient and curious, John Bridges got the bug more badly than most. He spent several years and several thousand pounds gathering material for a projected History of Northamptonshire, but publication did not go smoothly.

John Bridges

Most of the information below comes from the preface of the book and from the ever-charming Nichols, who characteristically relates the tale in a five-page footnote in Literary Anecdotes.

John Bridges began collecting material in 1719 with a personal visit to every parish in the county.  He also hired researchers and artists to record legal, historical, and parochial details. By the time of his death he had amassed some 30 folio volumes (plus many other loose pieces and smaller volumes) of material. However, nothing had been written.  In his will, Bridges directed that his historical books and records be kept separate from the rest of his library as a family heirloom (the rest of his collection was sold). His brother William then attempted to get the work printed.  A publisher was found, a writer, Dr. Samuel Jebb, was retained, and the project moved forward.  It was decided to publish the work as a series of fascicles and subscriptions were sought (at 4 guineas).  The first numbers duly appeared after a few years, but then the publisher went bankrupt and the project stopped.  Many of the engraved plates were scattered.

Then in 1755 a number of the gentleman of the county formed a committee under the leadership of Sit Thomas Cave to see the project through.  They bought up the materials, paid off Jebb, and recruited Peter Whalley to compile the volume. Gradually, the elderly gentlemen of the committee died off and the project sputtered to a halt near the finish line, with much of the work languishing with the Oxford University Press for seven years.  Eventually, a new committee took over and the book finally appeared in 1791 (over 65 years after Bridges died) in two volumes totaling near 1400 pages.

Most of Bridges’ materials ended up at the Bodleian.


Bridges, John. The History and Antiquities of Northamptonshire, 2 vols, 1791.

Nichols, John. Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, vol ii, 1812.

Categories of Argument

John Tillotson (1630—1694) was an interesting person.  Born in Yorkshire in 1630, son of a Puritan clothier, he went up to Cambridge in 1647, graduating BA in 1650, MA in 1654, and becoming a fellow of Clare College.  Tillotson married the stepdaughter of John Wilkins (incidentally, Oliver Cromwell’s niece) and Wilkins and Tillotson became very close.  Wilkins got Tillotson elected Fellow of the Royal Society, and Tillotson was appointed Wilkins’ literary executor after Wilkins’ death in 1672. Meanwhile, Tillotson was marching up the ranks of the Church of England collecting plum positions and ending up as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Tillotson published a number of his sermons during has lifetime and after his death, both previously published and unpublished sermons were collected, edited, and published in numerous editions, typically running around 12 or 14 volumes. They were extremely popular among both clergy and lay-people and circulated widely for over a century. In the first sermon in the collected editions (this quote is from the 1748 Edinburgh edition), he lays out a four-fold system of argument, breaking knowledge into mathematical, natural philosophical, and moral realms, as well as matters of fact, in which I think he gives a very clear exposition of epistemology in the late 17th century (he disclaims originality in the classification, but gives a good exposition).

Mathematical things, being of an abstracted nature, are capable of the clearest and strictest demonstration: but conclusions in natural philosophy, are capable of proof by an induction of experiments; things of a moral nature, by moral arguments; and matters of fact, by credible testimony. And though none of these be capable of that strict kind of demonstration which mathematical matters are; yet have we an undoubted assurance of them, when they are proved by the best arguments that things of that kind will bear. No man can demonstrate to me, unless we will call every argument that is fit to convince a wise man a demonstration, that there is such an island in America as Jamaica: yet, upon the testimony of credible persons who have seen it, and authors who have written of it, I am as free from all doubt concerning it, as I am from doubting of the clearest mathematical demonstration. So that this is to be entertained as a form principle, by all those who pretend to be certain of any thing at all, That when any thing, in any of these kinds, is proved by as good arguments as a thing of that kind is capable of, and we have as great assurance that it is, as we could possibly have supposing it were, we ought not in reason to make any doubt of the existence of that thing.

There’s more. In fact there are 254 more sermons, and this one alone runs 55 pages. Enjoy.