Tag Archives: Beccles

Joshua Kirby, F.R.S.

Joshua Kirby was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 26 March 1767. His election card is now, as the Royal Society says on its web page, barely legible, but they do manage a transcription of his citation:

Joshua Kirby of Kew in the County of Surry [sic] Esq. Designer in Perspective to their Majesties, & Author of Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective made easy, &c & of other considerable Improvements in that Science, being very desirous of the honor of Election into the Royal Society; We whose names are underwritten, recommend him on our personal Knowledge, as a Gentleman likely to prove a useful Member

How useful a member he was is unclear, as he seems to have had little to do with the Society, although he did sponsor two Fellows, Andrew Joseph Planta, and John Lodge Cowley. Kirby himself was proposed by:

 

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.

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.

John and James Elmy

John and James Elmy subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. The Elmy family has a long history in East Anglia. John and James were from the Beccles branch, sons of William Elmy, a tanner. William’s father, and his father before him had also been tanners. However, William’s brother John was a woolen draper and married into the Folkard family. John the woolen draper took one Thomas Rede as an apprentice and Rede then married his daughter Martha. They had a son Tomas, who in turn married Theophilia, the daughter and heiress of William Leman.

Of the two sons, John {1705-1756}, the eldest, was a surgeon in Beccles. He was one of the people signing the notices whenever a smallpox outbreak occurred in Beccles. James followed his father into the tanning business and married, around 1747 or 1748, Sarah Tovell of Parham, where Kirby was born. When James and Sarah were engaged, William Leman was one of the people noting his receiving a dowry.

James Elmy’s business ended in bankruptcy in 1758 and all his property was sold at auction to recover his debts. He went out to the West Indies and is supposed to have gone to Guadeloupe and died there, although there is some evidence that he worked at Roseau in Dominica through the 1760s at least. Fortunately for his wife, her son, and three young daughters, the Tovells had money and they moved to Parham near the rest of the family. There Sarah (1751—1813) became friends with Alethea Brereton. Alethea’s fiancé, William Levett, introduced her to his good friend George Crabbe (the poet) and they married in 1783.

William Leman

William Leman subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. The Lemans were an old and well-established Suffolk family, with a main seat at Brampton. William Leman (1704—1789) himself was a lawyer, and lived at Beccles, but he was buried at Brampton. William was the eldest son of William Leman and Elizabeth Starling (or Sterling), who was presumably related to the Elizabeth Starling who married Samuel Pallant in 1739. William married a cousin, Sarah Leman. Sarah’s brother, Robert, was High Sheriff of Suffolk in 1744, and his wife was Mary, the daughter of the excellently-named Nunn Prettyman of Laxfield and brother of Nunn Prettyman, Rector of Brampton, whose patron was the Lemans.

William and Sarah had three daughters, and when the last of Robert Leman’s children died in 1807, it was one of their grandsons, Naunton Thomas Orgill, Rector of Brampton, who inherited the property, and took the Leman family name.