The full title of Kirby’s Historical Account is An historical account of the twelve prints of monasteries, castles, antient churches, and monuments, in the county of Suffolk which were drawn by Joshua Kirby … and published by him March 26, 1748. The twelve prints in question were those Kirby supposedly prepared for Sir Joseph Ayloffe’s proposed history of Suffolk that never appeared. The prints were engraved by Joseph Wood, an engraver based in Covent Garden. The prints were offered for sale in half sheets at a price of one guinea and were well-received. Felicity Owen quotes George Vertue’s approving comments that they were “well done in drawing and graving in a very neat curious manner”, and that they are “a new improvement in manner and Taste of Engraving upon an equallity every way with the French, Italian or Dutch.” She herself says that the perspective is “almost impeccable”.
In the preface to the accompanying Historical Account, Kirby says:
As several of my Subscribers have desired me to publish a longer Historical Account with my Set of Prints than is usually done with Things of this Nature, and finding that it could not possibly be put under the Prints without spoiling the Uniformity of them, I have collected, from the best Authors, whatever is most remarkable upon these Subjects, and publish’d it by itself.
While the Historical Account is easily available, the prints themselves are less so. Each print has a description and dedicatee. Herewith, as best as I can decipher my notes, is a list of them:
- South-East view of Clare Priory and Castle, Suffolk, to Joseph Barker, Gent.
- North-West view of Sudbury Priory, to Denny Cole, Gent.
- West view of Bungay Castle. William Henry, Earl of Rochford.
- West view of Christ’s Hospital Ipswich. To the worshipful the Bailiffs, the burgesses and common councel men of the corporation of Ipswich.
- South view of St. James’s and the priory church at Bury St. Edmunds, to the worshipful aldermen and burgesses of ye corporation of Bury St. Edmunds.
- South view of Lavenham Church, Suffolk, to the Rt. Revd. Thomas Lord Bishop of Ely Master, and the worshipful fellows of Caius College in Cambridge.
- South view of Blithburgh Church and Priory, to Sir Charles Blois Bart.
- North-West view of Bungay Church and Priory, to Right Reverend Thomas Lord Bishop of Ely.
- The tomb of Thomas Howard Duke of Norfolk, to Dr. Roger Long Master of the Wpl. Fellows of Pembroke Hall in Cambridge. [The tomb is in Framlingham Church]
- Tomb of Henry Fitzroy Duke of Richmond and Somerset, to most Noble Charles Duke of Richmond and Lenox. [This tomb is also in Framlingham Church]
- Tomb of Henry Howard Earl of Surry, to the Rev Mr. Ralph Blois. [Also in Framlingham]
- Tomb of Lord Bardolf, to Sir John Rouse Bart. [The tomb is in Dennington Church]
Dedicating the individual plates was a good marketing strategy. Of the dedicatees, Joseph Barker, Sir Charles Blois, Rev. Ralph Blois, Denny Cole, the Rt. Rev. Thomas Lord Bishop of Ely, Rev. Roger Long, Sir John Rouse, and the Earl of Rochford all subscribed, with the Earl taking two sets.