Tag Archives: Ipswich

Gerrard Oldroyd

Gerrard Oldroyd subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account in 1748. As far as I know, that is the only book he subscribed to. A “Mr. Oldroyd” subscribed to Canning’s Ipswich Legacies, but that may not be the same person. John and Thomas Oldroyd voted in the 1741 Ipswich election and John voted for Ipswich Bailiffs in 1754. Oldroyd is an elusive figure, and what little I know about him is gleaned from newspaper advertisements. Herewith is his sad story. He first appears in 1740 as a fishmonger in Ipswich, running an ad in the Ipswich Journal for several weeks.


In the Thorough-Fare, Ipswich.

SELLS RED HERRINGS of all Sorts, as Fatt Herrings, Herrings of the Night, Tanters, Plucks, &c by the Barrel, as cheap as any Person in London.

The next year he ran another series of ads: “Sells red herrings of all sorts, by wholesale, at the very lowest price”. Perhaps the red herrings were a distraction, because by 1742, they are reduced to a sideline, and his advertisement runs:

To be SOLD,

By GERRARD OLDROYD, in the Thorough-Fare, Ipswich,

PLOUGH BREASTS, and other Irons of Malleable cast Iron, so soft as not easily to be broke, and yet hard enough to last twice the Time of any wrought Breast; the Price less than the worst ever cast. If any Breast break in Six Months from the Time of Sale, it shall be exchanged without any Expence. The Maker has obtained the King’s Patent for making several Sorts of Wares of this Mettle, which exceed any Thing of the Kind in England. Proper Allowance will be given to any Person that takes a Quantity to sell again.

N.B. He Likewise sells all Sortt of Red Herrings, viz. Meat Herrings, Fat Herrings, Herrings of the Night, Pluck and Tanters, and Fine Pickled Herrings in Firkins, at 14s. per Firkin.

In May of 1743, he has a new line: “Just Imported, by Mr. Gerrard Oldroyd in Ipswich, German Spaw Water, in Large Flasks, at Ten Shillings per Dozen”. In December 1743, he is declared bankrupt, described as a “Tin-plate worker and chapman”. There are a couple of announcements in the London Gazette about his proceedings for his bankruptcy hearings, but things seem to move along slowly. In 1748, he is forced to sell his house, describing himself as a Brazier: It appears to be a substantial building. The ad ran for several weeks before Lady Day (March 25), but it did not find a taker. In April came the following ad:

To be LETT and Entered upon immediately, A Messuage or Dwelling-House and Shop, both very neatly fitted up and well situated, with the Yards, Garden, and Appurtenances thereunto belonging, in the Town of Ipswich, near the Corn-Hill there, as the same now are in the Occupation of Mr. Gerrard Oldroyd, Brasier, who has left off Trade.

For further Particulars enquire of the said Mr. Oldroyd; or of Mr. John Preston, Attorney at Law, in Ipswich.

N.B. As Advertisements have been continued in this paper so long a Time, for the Out-standing Debtors of the said Mr. Oldroyd to come in and pay their respective Debts to him, and very few have taken any Notice thereof:—All the Outstanding Debtors are therefore hereby required to take Notice, That no personal Application will be made to any of them, but that Mr. Oldroyd has left his Books and Accomp’s in the Hands of the said Mr. Preston, who has positive Orders to bring Actions against all such as shall neglect or refuse to pay such their respective Debts to the said Mr. Oldroyd, or Mr. Preston, on or before Wednesday next; that being the longest Time Mr. Oldroyd proposes staying in the Country.

The sad note of the “left off trade”.  In passing, I note that John Preston was himself a Kirby subscriber. In June 1748, there was an announcement of an auction of his household goods, listing some and noting, “Catalogs will be delivered gratis”. Finally, in September 1748, came this announcement:

To be LETT and Entered upon immediately, A Good House and Shop, late in the Occupation of Mr. Gerrard Oldroyd, Brazier, near the Cornhill in Ipswich, consisting of four Rooms on a Floor, in good Repair, well fitted up for a Tradesman. For particulars enquire of Mr. Thomas Folkard, Ironmonger, in Ipswich aforesaid.

With that final notice, Gerrard Oldroyd fades from view.

The Perils of Drink

Back in the 1700s, the English were always getting into trouble drinking. Some things never change. Here is a selection of stories from the Ipswich Journal of the late 1720s.

Yesterday two Men quarrelling at an Alehouse in Holborn, went by Agreement into the Fields to fight, and one gave the other a Kick on his Groin which kill’d him on the Spot.

That same newspaper also carried the following advertisements for those seeking refreshment:

At Mrs. Thomas Summers at the King’s Head in Debenham, will be Sold good White and Red Port, at the following Prizes, viz. White port at 6s, 8d per Gallon, and 1s 8d per Quart within the House; and 6s per Gallon, and 1s 6 per Quart without Doors; Red Port at 6s 8d per Gallon, and 1s 8d per Quart within the House; and 6s per Gallon, and 1s 6d per Quart without Doors.

At Timothy Dickerson, living in St. Peter’s Parish, Ipswich, fine Cognac Brandy and Foreign Rum at Seven Shillings per Gallon, and right Holland Geneva at Five Shillings and Four Pence per Gallon; and fine Bohea Tea, by Wholesale or Retail at 12s. per Pound. N.B. He Sell no British Brandy, nor never did.

Being a tradesman was a chancy thing, and not all the punters were honest.

We hear from Eltham in Kent, that last Week two Fellows that were drinking at an Alehouse there, paid their Reckoning in new Half-Pence; but the Landlord shewing them afterwards to some Persons in the House, they were discovered to be counterfeited, being made of false Metal, upon which they pursued and found them at the next Alehouse on the Road, where, it seems they intended to play the same Game, and being seized and searched, they found more of the like Counterfeit Coin upon then, and the Moulds in which they were made, also Moulds for Shillings and Six-pences, upon which they were carried before a Magistrate and committed to Maidstone Goal.

And beware those drinking competitions.

We are informed from Thorn near Hagerston in Northumberland, That last Friday 7-Night, Francis Cooper and Joshua Threils, two noted Brandy Drinkers in those Parts, who for several Times had contended which could drink most, engaged each other which should drink most, the latter fell dead in taking off his 5th Pint Glass, and the former is so dangerously ill that ’tis thought he can’t recover.

It’s not just brandy you have to be careful of, there’s also gin.

Last Wednesday Night one White, a Barber in Salisbury Court, Fleet-Street, laid a Wager that he drank four Half Pints of Geneva, one at a Draught, in eight Minutes; and at drinking his second Half-Pint, dropt down dead.

Take care, people.

A Clique of Politicians

Joshua Kirby was a surprisingly well-connected guy, albeit within a fairly limited geographical reach. One example is the Suffolk Members of Parliament. Kirby’s Twelve Prints and accompanying Historical Account were published in 1748. There was an election in 1747, and it is instructive to look at the members returned.

At the time, Suffolk returned two members who represented the county, and there were seven boroughs within the county, each of which also returned two members. Kirby seems not to have had any contacts in Bury St. Edmunds, Dunwich, or Eye, which were further away from Ipswich. However, of the ten politicians representing Suffolk, Aldeburgh, Ipswich, Orford, and Sudbury, fully eight were subscribers. The representatives were:

The two who did not subscribe were both newcomers to the political scene. Zachary Philip Fonnereau was Thomas Fonnereau’s younger brother; and Richard Rigby was the person sent in from London on the Prince of Wales’ interest.

While some people subscribed as a matter of public duty, and the antiquarian nature of Kirby’s book may have been attractive, others on this list seem to have rarely subscribed. Kirby had corralled quite a collection of subscribers.

In graph theory a clique is a complete subgraph. The term comes from social network theory, and in Kirby’s context means a collection of subscribers all of whom knew each other. Given the intimate nature of Suffolk politics, and the fact that some of these men were politically active for decades, we can assume that they were all acquainted. Kirby’s subscriber graph has an 8-vertex MP clique.

And here is a draft showing the clique with names.

Samuel Kent

Samuel Kent subscribed to Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account, as well as the first edition of his Method of Perspective. At the time he was an MP for Ipswich, along with Admiral Vernon. He was first elected in 1734 (he was asked to run in 1730, but he declined), and he held the position until his death in 1759.

The Kent family were wealthy merchants from London, and Samuel appears to have been the only one connected to Suffolk, after he bought the estate of Fornham St. Genevieve in 1731. His grandfather, Griffith Kent, was a Norway merchant. Griffith and his wife had two sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Praise Kent, did not have any children, but the daughter married another Norway merchant from Southwark and had seven children. The other son, Thomas, was Samuel’s father.

Thomas continued the family business trade with Norway, and married Sarah Wight. They had ten children, eight boys and two girls. Samuel grew up and lived his life with an extensive collection of relatives, mostly in trade. The eldest son, Daniel, continued the Norway trade, but did not have children; nor did the second son Thomas. The third son, Griffith, took up the trade of distiller (his mother Sarah Wight’s father Daniel was a distiller), and had one son, who died young. The next son, John Kent was a whalebone merchant, married Mary Collman, the daughter of a merchant. They had numerous children and grandchildren. Meanwhile, Thomas’ sister Elizabeth married Dabe Wells, a leather-seller, and had ten children.

Samuel himself married Sarah Dean, daughter of a skinner. They had two sons and a daughter. The sons did not have children; the daughter Sarah married Charles Egleton, a merchant, who rose to become Sheriff of London in 1743, and was knighted. Their son inherited from Samuel, adding the name Kent to become Charles Egleton Kent and was created a Baronet in 1782.

Samuel Kent’s political career seems to have been largely unremarkable. The History of Parliament Online quotes Egmont’s 1750 assessment of him as “always votes dead with the Court and has done so as long as I can remember”. However, he was chosen Sheriff of Surrey in 1730.

On the business side, he was a wholesale malt distiller, being appointed distiller to the Court 1739. He was also appointed purveyor of Chelsea Hospital in 1740. He had interests in the South Sea Company and the Sun Fire Office, one of the first fire insurance companies, established in 1710. Although he had the estate in Suffolk, his main residence was Vauxhall-House, which he leased from 1725, and may have used as a distillery.

Thomas Fonnereau

Thomas Fonnereau (1699-1779), MP for Sudbury, subscribed to Joshua Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account of 1748, as well as Canning’s Gifts and Legacies of Ipswich of 1747. The Fonnereaus were a wealthy Huguenot merchant family based in London. When the father, Claude Fonnereau, died in 1740, he left nine children and vast wealth. Thomas, the eldest son, inherited £40,000, enough to keep in politics for life, as well as Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, which his father had bought in 1734 from Price Devereux, 10th Viscount Hereford, who had sold the house after his wife died.

The Fonnereau family had extensive dealings with the Gainsboroughs of London, the painter’s uncle Thomas, and his son Thomas, and there are persistent claims that Thomas Fonnereau was an early patron of Gainsborough. Adrienne Corri certainly thought so, although later scholars have cast doubt on her arguments. However, early on, sometime in the late 1740s, Gainsborough did paint a view of Ipswich from the grounds of Christchurch.

Thomas Fonnereau was MP for Sudbury from 1741 to 1768, voting reliably on the government side. In December 1745, The Rev. Gibbon Jones preached a sermon “Fear God and and honour the King”, and the printed version was dedicated to Thomas Fonnereau. Sudbury was renowned as a particularly corrupt seat, and therefore very expensive to contest. The History of Parliament Online notes, “the borough had a well-deserved reputation for venality”, and Susan Sommers said of Sudbury, “it offers the historian an unself-conscious example of eighteenth-century political corruption at its most exuberant”.

The story that brings together Gainsborough, Fonnereau and elections is told (at second hand) in Whitley’s 1915 biography of Gainsborough.

According to a story told by William Windham (Pitt’s Secretary for War), his earliest supporter was Mr. Fonnereau, a member of the family which long owned the beautiful old house in Christchurch Park, Ipswich, where the effigy of Tom Peartree is now to be seen. Windham, who did not like Gainsborough, and described him as dissolute and capricious and not very delicate in his sentiments of honour, says that Mr. Fonnereau gave him his first chance by lending him £300, and that the painter was afterwards so forgetful of this benefit as to vote against his patron’s interest in a parliamentary election. “His conscience, however, remonstrating against such conduct, he kept himself in a state of intoxication for the time he set out to vote till his return to town, that he might not relent of his ingratitude.” The only thing that gives the slightest colour to this remarkable story is that one of the Fonnereaus was for a time the parliamentary representative of Sudbury.

Gainsborough was twenty for the election of 1747, and supposedly still living in London, and by the election of 1754, he had moved to Ipswich. If there was any truth to the story, though, he would have been voting for Richard Rigby, put up by the Prince of Wales, who sent him down to Sudbury in 1747 with a bodyguard of prize fighters.

Edward Vernon

The Hon. Edward Vernon, Esq, subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. As the “Hon.” indicates, he was at the time an MP, representing Ipswich. Although not originally from Suffolk, he had bought an estate at Nacton, a few miles southeast of Ipswich and built a house there. Vernon was a naval and political man, more celebrated, and more voluble, than Ellis Brand. Edward Vernon (1684—1757) was the second son of James Vernon, who had been Secretary of State under William III. Born in Westminster, he attended Westminster school, studying mathematics and astronomy along with the usual languages. In 1700, Vernon began his naval career as a volunteer on the Shrewsbury, which sounds modest enough, until you discover that the Shrewsbury was the flag-ship of Admiral Sir George Rooke. Vernon rose ranks rapidly, becoming a captain in 1706, by which time he was in the Mediterranean with Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell’s fleet and had been present at the capture of Barcelona. On their return to England, several ships, including Admiral Shovell’s flagship, were wrecked off the Isles of Scilly and a couple of thousand men, including Admiral Shovell, were lost. With his own command, Vernon was no longer on the flagship and survived. By 1708, he had been sent to support Commodore Charles Wager’s squadron in the Caribbean, arriving just too late to take part in Wager’s Action. Vernon continued to advance and by 1719 was commander-in-chief of his majesty’s ships at Jamaica. England was at war with Spain, and much Spanish treasure flowed through the Caribbean, but Vernon did not see much action at this point. Back in England, Vernon was elected MP for the first time in 1722, as member for Penryn in Cornwall (his father had held this seat several times earlier). Vernon’s father died in 1717, and in 1729 he married Sarah Best. They would have three sons, all of whom, sadly, died young. By this time, Vernon had bought his estate at Nacton and settled as a Suffolk gentleman, his fractious nature and intemperate language having caused a break in his political career. In 1739 he returned to naval service and was sent out to the West Indies just as war again broke out with Spain (the War of Jenkins’ Ear). Soon after his arrival, he led the successful attack on the town of Porto Bello. Porto Bello was a small town, but the port through which all Spanish silver from Peru passed. When the news reached England, there was massive celebrating. The restrained DNB records,

The rejoicing went far beyond the usual celebrations of victory. Vernon became a national hero almost overnight. Both houses of parliament voted their thanks and the City of London made him a freeman. Addresses of congratulations came to the king from across the country. His popular appeal was immense. Medals, pottery, road names, and public house signs bore the name Vernon or Porto Bello and his birthday became a day of celebration across the country.

Mount Vernon was also named after him. Vernon’s next target was Cartagena. He launched a massive amphibious assault, the troops being commanded by Major-General Thomas Wentworth. Such an assault against a heavily-fortified position was a race against time – as men who succumbed to wounds or disease could not be replaced. Despite initial successes, the attack failed as disease took its toll. A later attempt against Panama fared no better. Vernon and Wentworth did not get along, and Vernon, in his dispatches and private letters, attempted to discredit Wentworth. Despite his failure, Vernon was still popular in England and, on his return in late 1742, he found he had been elected MP for Ipswich while away. In 1745 he was promoted to Admiral, but his fractious nature, intemperate language and leaked correspondence with the Admiralty caused the King to have him struck off the flag list in 1746. He rumbled away in parliament, but his influence was waning. Horace Walpole acidly described him as, “a silly, noisy admiral … his courage was greater than his sense, his reputation was much greater than his courage”. Vernon was always concerned about the health of sailors and his other claim to fame stems from diluting their daily ration of rum with water and then ordering the addition of lime juice to counter the bad taste of the water. Although the benefits of citrus at sea were not fully understood at the time, his sailors were healthier than average, and suffered much less from scurvy.  Vernon’s nickname was `Old Grog’ from his habit of wearing a of a grogram coat, and the sailors gave the name to the new drink. Gainsborough painted Admiral Vernon around 1753; the portrait is now in the National Portrait Gallery collection. For more on Admiral Vernon, start at his Wikipedia page, or DNB entry. For more details on the ships he commanded, see the wonderful threedecks.org site. Admiral Vernon was preceded as MP for Ipswich by William Wollaston

The Lottery of 1726

Lotteries, at least state-run lotteries, in England went back to the time of Queen Elizabeth, the first recorded one being from 1566—1569. At the time, there were two main types of lottery. Common was a `zero-sum’ lottery where the amount given away as prizes equaled the face-value of the tickets sold. In this case, the lottery essentially acted as an interest-free loan to the state for the length of the lottery, which could run for several years. The accounting gets more complex when some of the prizes were in the form of government debt. The other form was explicitly to raise funds, often for worthy causes, such as the 1612 lottery is support of the Jamestown colony in Virginia, or the lottery to support the founding of the British Museum in 1753. The lottery of 1726 was a rare occasion when the state lost money.

The 1726 lottery was designed to raise £1,000,000 through the sale of 100,000 tickets at £10 each. The procedure then was that each ticket would be drawn and would either win a prize or `benefit’, or be recorded as a `blank’ or non-winning ticket. The top benefit was £20,000, an enormous sum of money, followed by two second prizes of £10,000 and so on down to 360 prizes of £100 and 7550 prizes of £20. The process of drawing all 100,000 tickets took weeks and the news was steadily reported in the papers. The 8000 winning tickets were worth a total of £310,000, so the remaining £690,000 was returned via the Blanks, each paying back £7 10s of the original £10 cost.

Not everyone could afford the full £10 for a ticket and this gave an opportunity for enterprising brokers to sell fractions of an interest. John Bagnall, publisher of the Ipswich Journal, offered his services buying fractions of a ticket, `for those who desire it, I will procure Shares of Tickets, viz. an 8th for 25s. and so in Proportion, whereby they will have a chance for 2500l at 6d each for my trouble of transmitting the money to London, and having a return’. Even 25 shillings was a lot of money for some to lay out on a lottery ticket, so ‘For the Benefit of small Adventurers, 40th Shares may be purchased at 5s 6d each’. Bagnall also offered a service whereby, for the same 6d, customers could register their lottery ticket numbers and as they were drawn he would publish the number together with whether it was a blank or the amount of the benefit, noting that his anonymous procedure ‘doth not expose the Names and Fortunes of the Adventures in the Lottery to any Body’.

Despite these valiant attempts by local entrepreneurs to extend the market for tickets, and despite concerns in London that small fractions were becoming so accessible that servants and apprentices might be buying them, the lottery ended with 11,093 tickets unsold. These tickets, with a face value of £110,930, made only £103,272 10s in the drawing, thus leaving the Exchequer £7657 10s short.

For those of you hazy on old English currency, 1 pound (£1) was worth 20 shillings (20s), and a shilling was 12 pence (12d). The 6d (six pence) Bagnall charged for his services was half a shilling, or 1/40th of a pound.