Category Archives: Ipswich

Joshua Kirby – Printseller

The plates for Joshua Kirby’s Twelve Prints of 1748 were engraved by Joseph Wood of Covent Garden. Kirby’s connection with Wood went back several years at this point. In June 1745, he advertised for sale in the Ipswich Journal, “A Curious Print of Mr. Garrick, from an original Painting by Mr. Pond, engrav’d by Mr. Wood,” at a shilling each (cited in Whitley, Gainsborough, 18). Garrick had made his stage debut in Ipswich in 1741, and by 1745 was very well known.

Later, Kirby was to be found selling Hogarth’s prints of Beer Street and Gin Lane.

References

Whitley, W.T. (1915). Thomas Gainsborough. London: Smith, Elder, & Co.

Advertisements

Thicknesse on Pear Tree

One of Thomas Gainsborough’s early paintings was of a man leaning on the top of a wall. Now known as Tom Pear Tree, the painting is at Ipswich.

There are several anecdotes about this painting, and maybe we’ll give more later, but for now here is Philip Thicknesse’s version. The irascible Thicknesse, who modestly claimed to be “the first man who perceived, though through clouds of bad colouring, what an accurate eye he possessed, and the truth of his drawings, and who dragged him from the obscurity of a Country Town”, wrote a biography of Gainsborough shortly after his death. In true Thicknessian fashion, about half the biography is devoted to a portrait of Thicknesse that Gainsborough never finished. Here is how Thicknesse relates his first encounter with Gainsborough’s work.

Soon after his [Gainsborough’s] remove to Ipswich I was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Land Guard Fort, not far distant, and while I was walking with the then printer and editor of the Ipswich journal, in a very pretty town garden of his, I perceived a melancholy faced countryman, with his arms locked together, leaning over the garden wall, I pointed him out to the printer, who was a very ingenious man, and he with great gravity of face, said the man had been there all day, that he pitied him, believing he was either mad, or miserable. I then stepped forward with an intention to speak to the mad man, and did not perceive, till I was close up, that it was a wooden man painted upon a shaped board. Mr. Creighton (I think that was the printer’s name) told me I had not been the only person this inimitable deception had imposed upon, for that many of his acquaintance had been led even to speak to it, before they perceived it to be a piece of art, and upon finding the artist himself lived in that town, I immediately procured his address, visited Mr. Gainsborough, and told him I came to chide him for having imposed a shadow instead of a substance upon me.

He came to chide, but stayed to praise, and later commissioned Gainsborough to paint a view of Land Guard Fort.

See also:

Fulcher on Tom Pear Tree.

See William Lynch.

References

Thicknesse, Philip. 1788. A sketch of the life and paintings of Thomas Gainsborough.

Tobias Rustat

The Rev. Tobias Rustat (1716—1793) subscribed to the first edition of Kirby’s Method of Perspective. The Rustat family did not have long ties to Suffolk. The most illustrious ancestor, namesake Tobias Rustat (1608—1694), performed long, loyal, honorable, and lucrative service to the Stuart Kings. He was a servant, at times the only servant, to Charles II on the Continent during Cromwell’s rule, after the Restoration becoming Yeoman of the Robes, among other titles and perquisites.

Figure 1 Tobias Rustat (1608-1694)

He was somewhat unfairly characterized by the diarist John Evelyn as “a very simple, ignorant, but honest and loyal creature”, although Evelyn did not his “wonderful frugality”. Rustat seems to have been shrewd in gaining his fortune and generous in disposing of it. A life-long bachelor, he gave the first endowment to Cambridge University Library, and endowed a number of scholarships for orphans of clergy to attend Jesus College, Cambridge (where his father had gone). When he died at age 85, most of his fortune of some £20,000 was distributed among his various relatives, with a large portion going to a great-nephew, Tobias Rustat (1668—1744). This Tobias settled in Suffolk, at Withersfield, and had fourteen children, eight by his first wife, Mary Towers, and six by his second wife, Frances Tipping, daughter of Rev. Thomas Tipping, Rector of Weston Colville. Our Tobias was the eldest child of Frances Tipping and Tobias.

Young Tobias Rustat was educated at Saffron Walden and Bury St. Edmunds and in due course went up to Cambridge, to Jesus College. He got his BA in 1739, a year behind Laurence Sterne, his MA in 1742, and was a Fellow of the college 1743—1746. He was ordained deacon in 1739, and priest in 1741. He was Rector of Fordham in Cambridgeshire from 1745 to 1754, rather out of Kirby’s orbit. However, in 1748, he was presented with the living of Stutton, near Ipswich, by his uncle Thomas Tipping. He held this last position for the rest of his life, although he did occasionally add others. The Rectory of Stutton would have provided a comfortable living, but Tobias could draw on the resources of his inheritance, and he married an heiress from Devon, Sarah Paige, whose father had died when she was 11, leaving Sarah and her sister each a £12,000 dowry. The Rustats lived well, extended the Rectory, and laid out extensive grounds. They had estates around Suffolk, but no children.

Gainsborough painted Rustat’s portrait in 1756 or 1757, at a time when he had a number of commissions from clergymen, and he also painted Sarah Paige, Mrs. Rustat, a year or two later.


In his will, Tobias left £300 to a godson William Lynch, who was presumably related to the William Lynch we have already mentioned.

We will leave Tobias Rustat with this brief notice of his farming prowess from an advertisement in the Ipswich Journal of 1790:

To be Sold

A Beautiful Black and White BULL, Spotted with great variety of round black spots; of remarkable fine shape and great one; bred from the stock of the Rev. Tobias Rustat of Stutton, long distinguished for his elegant taste for spotted cattle, of every colour as fashion has varied; and for which it is computed by a very accurate calculator, that he has paid Two hundred pounds for spots. The above bull is now two years old, perfectly sound, free from vice, and may be seen at Mr. Joseph Rowe’s, farmer at Tuddenham near Ipswich, who will sell the same.

References

Lewin, P.I. (1989/90). “The Revd Tobias Rustat of Stutton and his family”, Gainsborough’s House Society Annual Report, 35–39.

 

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.

References:

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.

Samuel Pallant

Samuel Pallant was an Ipswich lawyer who subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. As far as I can discover, this was the only book to which he subscribed.

A Samuel Pallant was articled to Robert Hamby in 1738.  Pallant’s name appeared regularly in the Ipswich Journal acting as a letting or sales agent for a variety of (often substantial) farms, pubs, and houses from 1742 onwards for twenty years. Making a few heroic assumptions, he was probably a son of the Samuel Pallant who married Elizabeth Newson in April 1713. Samuel Pallant the father is then most likely the voter from Halesworth in the 1727 poll. In 1743, Samuel Pallant advertises a stand of timber available from his land in Halesworth, then in 1748 he advertises a cattle fair there for the benefit of farmers from Norfolk, where fairs were banned because of ‘distemper’ among the cattle. Finally, in 1749, Rook-Yard farm in Halesworth, “now in the occupation of Samuel Pallant” for an annual rent of £110, was advertised to let. It seems likely that the father farmed the land in Halesworth and the son was an attorney in Ipswich, living on Brook Street.

The younger Samuel Pallant married Elizabeth Starling in 1739 before she died in 1743, possibly in childbirth. He then married Mary Hammond, a widow of Ipswich. A John Pallant, son of Samuel of Ipswich, was apprenticed in 1767, which presumably would make him a child of the second marriage. Of other children I know nothing, although a Samuel Pallant was articled to Samuel in 1756, and a Richard in 1762.

William Wollaston

William Wollaston (1693—1757) subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. At one time a fabulously wealthy family, the Wollastons made their money in the wool trade and bought Finborough Hall in Suffolk for £10000 in the 1650s, although this was not their primary residence. Wollaston’s father, also William (1660—1724), however was a schoolteacher and philosopher, who tried to suppress his own writings. His most popular work, Religion of Nature Delineated, was only published shortly before his death, but quickly sold ten thousand copies and went through many editions. By living a quiet life, he drew the attention of his cousin William Wollaston, who had inherited the bulk of the estates, had no surviving sons, and was much irritated by importunate relatives. He left pretty much everything to the retired schoolteacher when he died in 1688. Leslie Stephen has a lovely article on the father William Wollaston in the old DNB.

Our William Wollaston lived at Finborough Hall and became MP for Ipswich in 1733 running unopposed in a by-election to replace the deceased former MP. Returned in the 1734 election, he served until 1741, being then replaced by Edward Vernon. In 1730, William Hogarth painted a conversation piece of the Wollaston family.

William Wollaston married Elizabeth Fauquier, whose father was governor of the Bank of England, and together they had eight children. In 1739, he had four of his children inoculated against smallpox, with the Ipswich Journal reporting that they were ‘in a fair way of Recovery’.  His eldest surviving son, William (1731-1797) was himself MP for Ipswich from 1768 to 1784. An amateur musician, he also gave Thomas Gainsborough two important commissions shortly before Gainsborough moved to Bath. One is this portrait:

The other is Gainsborough’s first (surviving) full-length.

Rosenthal (1999) suggests that the two portraits were intended to hang in Gainsborough’s new picture room in Bath to show how successfully he could catch a likeness, the two paintings being recognizably of the same person.

For more on Suffolk MPs, see A Clique of Politicians.

Oddly enough, a Wollaston is currently a member of parliament.

Philips Colman

Philips Colman subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. He was a substantial Ipswich gentleman, and elected High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1746. Unfortunately, I know little about him. He was born about 1710 and died in 1779, presumably the offspring of Francis Coleman and Elizabeth Phillips, who married in Ipswich in 1709. He attended Cambridge, married Elizabeth Montagu, and is buried with the Philips family in Ipswich. He was a Portman of Ipswich and his father, Francis Colman was bailiff of Ipswich several times. Francis Colman left some property to charity when he died, and this is probably behind the fact that Philips Colman subscribed for six copies of Canning’s Ipswich Legacies. In the Ipswich Journal he appears frequently in relation to letting and selling farms and buildings, but not a lot otherwise.