Tag Archives: John Affleck

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.

John Affleck

John Affleck (1710—1776), subscribed to Kirby’s Twelve Prints and Historical Account. At the time he was MP for Suffolk, along with Sir Cordell Firebrace. John Affleck’s grandfather bought Dalham Hall in Suffolk, and this is where John and his siblings grew up. Dalham Hall Gilbert Affleck was himself an MP, sitting for Cambridge from 1722 to 1727, and again from 1737 to 1741. The election of 1737 was particularly hard-fought and the papers enjoyed giving blow-by-blow accounts of the campaign. The Stamford Mercury of 20 January 1737 carried this report:

We are advis’d from Cambridge, that a greater Struggle was never known for a Representative in Parliament for that Corporation than at present: That no less than 33 Persons from London only, posted to that Town within these three Days, to take up their Freedoms (Tuesday being a grand Common Day) and qualify themselves to vote at the ensuing Election: That the Freemen never lead merrier Lives than of late, no Night passing without their meeting at one or other House on Account of the Rival Candidates; That Mr. Affleck’s Friends, offer great Odds against their Opponents; whilst on the other hand, Mr. Ascham’s Party, with Sir John Cotton’s Interst, leave no Stone unturn’d to defeat their Adversaries Designs.

In the event, Affleck won the battle for votes by 131 to 115, a majority of just 16. When not fighting for votes in Cambridge, Gilbert Affleck and his wife Anna Dolben busied themselves raising an extensive family. Inevitably, some of the children died young, and accounts vary about how many there were, but it was around twenty. John Affleck was the second son, but the first, also named John, had died in infancy. Poor Mrs. Affleck came to a sad end, as reported in the Ipswich Journal of 29 December 1744.

On Monday last the Lady of Gilbert Affleck, Esq; of Dalham in Suffolk, was unfortunately burnt to Death at the aforesaid Seat; a Servant being sent up to fetch Mrs. Affleck down to Dinner, found her fallen into the Fire, her Cloaths burnt off her Back, and some Part of her Body consum’d to Ashes; ’tis suppos’d she fell down in an Apoplectick Fit. Mrs. Affleck had been married upwards of 30 Years, and been Mother of 22 Children.

John Affleck himself married Sarah Metcalfe, who came with a substantial fortune; they had fewer than 22 children. A younger brother of John, Edmund Affleck, went to sea, became a captain in 1757 and served throughout the Seven Years’ War. Staying in the Navy, by 1782 we was in command of the Bedford in the Caribbean and won a famous action against the French, for which he was created a Baronet and promoted to Rear Admiral.