Tag Archives: Book collecting

William Bayntun

William Bayntun (1717—1785) was a barrister who resided at Gray’s Inn. He was admitted to Gray’s Inn in 1746, when he was already nearly 30, and called to the bar in 1760.  He was the youngest son of Henry Bayntun who was of a junior branch of the overly-complex Bayntun family of Wiltshire.  The senior branch had been prominent landowners for centuries, described by the DNB as “the quintessential county family”, developing over the years a wide array of land-holdings and intertwining marriages and trailing vast numbers of lawsuits before dying out (in the nineteenth generation) shortly before our William was born.

William did manage to acquire and inherit his own modest collection of estates to support him, and he married well to Catherine Sandys, an heiress, in 1756 (she was some twenty years his junior and still underage, but her father had died in 1754).  William and Catherine did not have any children and in his will, after providing for his wife, William left his estate to Windsor Sandys, a cousin of his wife’s. While William married, but did not have children, both his brothers had children, but did not marry.

William Bayntun was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and principally noted for his book collection, sold off after his death.  Also a supporter of the arts, he subscribed to the first edition of Joshua Kirby’s Method of Perspective, and was present at the 1757 dinner at the Foundling Hospital.

Gregory Sharpe

The Rev. Gregory Sharpe (1713—1771), FRS was a prolific author on religious and philological subjects. Originally from Yorkshire, he went to Cambridge and was ordained deacon in 1737 and priest in 1739. He was chaplain to Frederick, the Prince of Wales until his death in 1751, and later was chaplain to George III. It is presumably through the latter role that he came to know Joshua Kirby.

Sharpe was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1754, his citation reading:

The Revd Gregory Sharpe LLD of Poland Street a Gentleman of great Merit & Learning, well versed in Philosophy & Mathematicks, being desirous of being a Member of the Royal Society is proposed as a Candidate by us, upon our personal knowledge; and we believe if he have the honour to be elected, that he will make a usefull & valuable Member

In the 1760s, Sharpe became a prolific proposer of candidates to Fellowship of the Royal Society, supporting

  • Henry Stebbing (1764)
  • Thomas Forster (1766)
  • Joshua Kirby (1767)
  • George Steevens (1767)
  • Daniel Minet (1767)
  • Charles Moore (1767)
  • James Horsfall (1768)
  • John Lodge Cowley (1768)
  • Andreas Planta (1769)
  • Jean-Nicolas Jouin (1770)
  • and John Philip de Limbourg (1770)

The only likeness of Sharpe that I know is a mezzotint by Valentine Green made in 1770 from a painting by Richard Crosse.

As well as a noted author, Sharpe was a great book collector, and after his death his extensive library was sold off in an auction that ran for 11 days. Lot 1439 was a copy of Joshua Kirby’s Perspective of Architecture.

See Also: Sharpe’s DNB entry.