Tag Archives: Kirby

Kirby and the Carthaginians

In the hierarchy of art as understood in the 18th century, at the pinnacle was history painting. From the 1740s to 1760s, English portraiture developed rapidly and became popular, however, those who could afford history painting (which tended to be large) mostly still looked to the Continent for their artists. In 1768, George III commissioned a series of history paintings from Benjamin West (from Pennsylvania). One of these was The Departure of Regulus, painted in 1769.

This was a time of turbulent politics among London artists. Kirby had been roped in as president of the Society of Artists, but a rival group led by Sir William Chambers (Kirby’s boss) was in the process of founding the Royal Academy (without Kirby’s knowledge). Reynolds was to be its first president, followed by West.

The anecdote below occurs in a number of forms, this one is taken from Northcote’s Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Many such anecdotes are burnished over time, but the dates are plausible and this picture was shown in the first 1769 exhibition. If the identification is correct, the participants, who would have known their history, doubtless appreciated the irony.

It was just about this time that Mr. West had finished his picture of the subject of Regulus, which was painted by the command of the King, and, on the morning appointed by his Majesty, he went with it to the palace in order to shew it to him, when the King was graciously pleased to approve of it highly: and at the time, whilst his Majesty was looking at the picture with Mr. West in the room, they were informed by a page, that Mr. Kirby was without waiting for his Majesty’s commands. He was immediately sent for, and, on his entrance, the King directed his (Mr. Kirby’s) attention to the picture, asking his opinion of it; Mr. Kirby commended the picture much, and particularly that part which fell under his own province, to wit, the perspective as in that science Kirby had been the King’s instructor. Kirby asked who was the painter of so good a picture, when the King pointed to Mr. West as the artist who had done it. Mr. Kirby then observed, that such a work ought most certainly to be seen by the public at large, and hoped his Majesty would permit it to be in the exhibition of the incorporated society of Artists. The King answered, that it was his pleasure that it should be exhibited, but it most certainly should be at his own Royal Academy Exhibition. At these words poor Kirby appeared to be like one thunder-struck, and just ready to drop on the floor; it was the first confirmation he had received of the report, which before he had considered as unfounded, and did not believe. It has been said, and supposed by many, that this circumstance so much affected his mind, that he actually died soon after, of the extreme mortification it gave him.

Poor Kirby. He did survive the mortification for five years, though.

To brush up on your history of Regulus, click here.

Rev. Thomas Bolton (1697—1772)

The Rev. Thomas Bolton was a member of the Bolton family of Woodbridge, one of the children of Samuel Bolton, a surgeon. He grew up in Woodbridge and in the usual way of things, went on to Cambridge and was ordained deacon in 1720 and priest in 1721. He was for a time Rector of Barham, resigning to take up the position of Rector at Hollesley, a position he held from 1739 until his death.

Hollesley Church

Hollesley is only half a dozen miles from Woodbridge, with Ipswich another 6 or 7 miles onwards. From 1739 to 1743, Rev. Bolton was also Headmaster at Ipswich School, being succeeded by Robert Hingestone. Thomas Bolton married Mary Bird and they had four children, Samuel, Thomas, Martha, and Mary. His grandson Thomas married Susannah Nelson, eldest sister of Horatio, Lord Nelson; and a great-grandson, Sir William Bolton, married his cousin Catherine, a daughter of Thomas and Susannah, and served with Nelson for many years. William Bolton was unable to be at the Battle of Trafalgar, being on other service, a circumstance which apparently caused Nelson to exclaim, “Billy, Billy, out of luck!” Another great-grandson of Thomas Bolton was killed at Waterloo.

Along with Kirby’s Historical Account, Bolton also (not surprisingly) subscribed to Rev. Richard Canning‘s Account of the Gifts and Legacies…In Ipswich.

Unqualitied Persons

Since we are on the subject of Alexander Bence, I reproduce below a legal notice from the Ipswich Journal of January 1748 on the protection of game in Suffolk. It well illustrates the interconnections between the gentry and better-off people in the fairly small world of the Suffolk countryside, shows the social gulf between classes, and is the first time I met the term “unqualitied persons”. It is also worth noting that no less than ten of the people named in the notice were Kirby subscribers (I have put their names in bold).

Whereas the Right Honourable the Lord Viscount Hereford, Sir Robert Kemp, Bart. Sir John Rous, Bart. Sir Charles Blois, Bart. Alexander Bence, Esq; John Rush, Esq; Charles Scrivener, Esq; Reginald Rabett, Esq; Nicholas Jacob, Esq; Thomas World, Esq; John Damer, Esq; Dudley North, Esq; Charles Long, Esq; Thomas Gooch, Esq; Philip Bewster, Esq; and others, have entered into an Agreement and Subscription for the Preservation of the GAME within the Hundreds of Blything, Wangford, Plomsgate and Hoxne, in the County of Suffolk; and for prosecuting by Action, Information, or otherwise such unquality’d as shall offend against all or any of the Statutes made for Preservation of the Game: And by such their Agreement have appointed Peter Pullyn, of Halesworth in the said County, their Attorney and Sollicitor for the Purposes in the said Agreement aforementioned.

    These are therefore to certify, That if any Person or Persons will inform against any such unquality’d Person or Persons, who shall take, kill, or destroy in the Night-time, or have in their Possessions any Hares, Pheasants, or Partridges, within the said Hundreds, so as such Person or Persons may be convicted thereof, he or they shall receive of the said Peter Pullyn, on the Conviction of such Person or Persons offending, FIVE POUNDS (over and above the Reward allowed by Act of Parliament) and his or their Name or Names shall not be discovered, unless the Offender or Offenders stand a Tryal at Law, or make Defence to any Indictment or Informations, nor until the Time of such Tryal or Conviction of the Offender or Offenders; And that if any Person or Persons unlawfully take, kill, or destroy and Fish, in any several Rivers or Fishery, or out of inclosed Fish-Ponds within the said Hundreds (without leave of the Owner or Owners thereof) he or they who shall make such Discoveries shall be well rewarded for the same.

    N.B. The Subscribers desire all Noblemen and Gentlemen to have their Titles or Names, with the Day of the Month, wrote on the Direction of any Game to be sent by any Stage-Coach, Waggon, Carts, Carriers, or otherwise; they being determined to prosecute the Drivers of such Stage-Coaches, Waggons and Carts, and the Carriers who shall have any Game in their Custodies that have not such Directions upon the Game as aforesaid.

The Ipswich Journal

Ipswich gained its local newspaper, The Ipswich Journal, in 1720, founded by John Bagnall who had recently moved from London to Ipswich. In common with most other provincial newspapers, the news was mostly digested from London sources, with very little local information. Gradually, notices of local events appeared, and then the crucial ingredient for a successful newspaper, and the source that makes old papers interesting to a modern audience, advertising. In the first few issues, the only advertisement was for Bagnall himself and his printing office.

By 1721, Bagnall was including ads from other, paying, customers, such as this one from March 1721 for William Craighton.

Along with the newspaper, Bagnall printed and published a few local books, including John Kirby’s Suffolk Traveller in 1735. Bagnall continued publishing the paper for almost twenty years, until his business was taken over by William Craighton in 1739. Craighton restored the original title of the newspaper (Bagnall had re-titled it the Ipswich Gazette) and got a new type-face for it. The format and content remained much the same. Craighton published several books, the industry having picked up pace since the 1720s and 1730s. Among his publications were Kirby’s Historical Account, and the first edition of the Method of Perspective. Craighton died in 1761, and the newspaper and printing business continued under his sister, Elizabeth Craighton, and nephew, William Jackson. Jackson bought out Elizabeth Craighton’s interest in 1769, but in the 1770s he ran into financial difficulties, joined the East India Company, enlisted with Clive in India and was never heard of again.

Meanwhile Elizabeth Craighton had restarted the newspaper with the help of another nephew, Stephen Jackson, and a different printer. Under various proprietors the Ipswich Journal continued until 1902, when it closed citing lack of advertisers and competition from more recent daily newspapers and monthly magazines.

The local newspaper may not have been used much for local news, but it was seen as a valuable medium for advertising, especially for books. Kirby had numerous advertisements in the paper, and we shall meet some of them. To whet your appetite, here is a rather charming ad from 1740 for Kirby’s Scole prints.

Watson, S.F. Some materials for a history of printing and publishing in Ipswich, Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and Natural History, 24, 3 (1946/1948), 182-227.

Wiles, R.M. Freshest Advices. Early Provincial Newspapers in England, Ohio State University Press, 1965.

Thomas Coggeshall

Thomas Coggeshall (c. 1702—1768) seems to have led a pleasant life, but he left few traces during it. He did subscribe to Kirby’s Historical Account and Method of Perspective, as well as six copies Richard Canning’s book on Ipswich charities. He was a grandson of the Henry Coggeshall who invented a slide rule for lumber measurement and whose treatise on the use of the slide rule ran through many editions with varying titles. The third edition was The art of practical measuring easily perform’d, by a two foot rule, which slides to a foot….

Rev. Francis Haslewood reords Thomas Coggeshall’s monument in St. Matthew’s church thus:

Beyond whatever inheritance Coggeshall had from his father, he also inherited lands and money from his cousin John, and he died a wealthy man. The Gentlemen’s Magazine claimed he had left between £6000 and £7000, a not inconsiderable sum for the time. His will shows the interconnections between many of the local families. Coggeshall left the bulk of his estate to a cousin William, and to William’s daughter Martha, to another cousin William, and to some relatives on his mother’s side (his mother was a Cannell). As trustees for the property he appointed `Mr. John Hingestone son of my late worthy friend Mr. Mileson Hingestone and the Reverend Richard Canning son of my worthy friend the Reverend Mr. Canning of Ipswich’. He also made Rev. Canning an executor. The friendship presumably accounts for the six copies of Canning’s book that he subscribed for. Among many minor bequests to relations, he gave fifty pounds each to `Mr. Samuel Kilderbee of Framlingham and his two sons and daughter’ (Kilderbees and Coggeshalls were related by marriage a couple of generations earlier). To his `good friend’ Rev. John Clubb he gave four hundred pounds, to his `very intimate friend’ the elder Richard Canning he gave five hundred pounds. He also gave money to Elizabeth Craighton, widow of the publisher William Craighton, and to Craighton’s nephew Mr. Jackson (the widow and nephew had continued the publishing business including the Ipswich Journal after the death of William Craighton). He gave twenty pounds to Joshua Kirby and his brother William. Towards the end of the will is a long list of further friends to whom he gives 10 guineas each, including a `Mr. Gainsborough’ who is not specified further.

After a life with ‘plentiful Fortune favouring his natural love of ease’, he demonstrated in his will a great concern to pass on his fortune to friends, relatives, and charities.

Samuel Kilderbee (1725—1813)

Samuel Kilderbee was an Ipswich lawyer, now remembered chiefly for being a life-long friend of Thomas Gainsborough. He had a successful career as an attorney, in particular representing Nathaniel Acton in many legal transactions. In 1755, during the period of political turmoil in Ipswich, he was installed as Town Clerk, a position he retained until 1767. It is unclear if the Gainsboroughs had known the Kilderbees before Gainsborough’s move to Ipswich after his London training, but it is certainly possible. The Kilderbee family had been living for several generations in Framlingham, while Gainsborough was from Sudbury, on the other side of Ipswich.  Once they did meet, they became firm friends until the end, although, as with much of Gainsborough’s life, direct evidence is scanty. From Gainsborough’s letters, we know his family visited the Kilderbees from London in the 1770’s, and Gainsborough and Kilderbee made a tour of the Lake District in 1783. Gainsborough made Kilderbee `overseer’ of the execution of his will and Kilderbee visited Gainsborough on his death-bed, where he reported that Gainsborough, “regretted the dissolute life he had led, but added, `They must take me altogether, liberal, thoughtless, and dissipated.'” William Jackson said that Gainsborough’s letters to Kilderbee were `brilliant but eccentric, and too licentious to be published’, and indeed they never were.

Early on, Gainsborough painted portraits of Kilderbee (at least twice), his wife, and one of her brothers.

Later, he painted a portrait of the Kilderbee’s son, the Rev. Samuel Kilderbee.

The Kilderbee family had some interesting naming conventions. Samuel Kilderbee’s grandfather, Francis, had married one Elizabeth, the only daughter of a Suffolk apothecary called Samuel Dover. They named their sons Dover and Samuel. In due course, Elizabeth inherited from her father, and this enabled Francis, a successful draper in Framlingham, to buy some land for his elder son to inherit in his turn. Dover went on to Cambridge and success, but died without issue, and the prosperity passed to his younger brother Samuel, who had taken on the family draper business. Samuel married Alethea Sparrow (we will hear more about the Sparrows later), and they in turn had two sons, Samuel the lawyer, and his brother John, who continued the family business into another generation. Samuel’s wife Mary was the daughter of a landowner Daniel Wayth. They had one son, the Rev. Samuel Kilderbee above, who was renowned for his wit and amusing conversation, and for living beyond his, by now quite substantial, means. Fortunately, the Rev. Samuel married a widow who could contribute to the family coffers, Caroline Waddington, daughter of Samuel Horsey. Their only son, Spencer Horsey Kilderbee, married Lady Louisa Maria Judith Rous, daughter of an Earl, and went on to be an MP under the rather splendid name of Spencer Horsey de Horsey.

Dover Kilderbee and one of the Samuels were subscribers to the first edition of Kirby’s Method of Perspective, and (a) Samuel and John subscribed to the second edition of the Suffolk Traveller.

Sir Richard Lloyd

Sir Richard Lloyd (?1697-1761) was one of the Ipswich portmen who lost their posts in the 1755 coup. He had also recently lost the election to be M.P. However, one doesn’t need to feel too sorry for him. As a consolation, he was made Solicitor-General.

Lloyd had been Recorder of Ipswich since 1739, and had represented other constituencies around the country. After his failure at Ipswich, he became M.P. for Totnes. He was probably born in 1697 at Lichfield. His father was Talbot Lloyd, and his mother, Elizabeth Savage, was a natural daughter of his father’s commanding officer, the infamous General Lord Rivers. He went to Lichfield School and then on to Cambridge before training for the law in Middle Temple and being called to the bar in 1723. In the 1720s he married Elizabeth Field (or Feild), whose mother, Arabella Savage, had been another natural daughter of Lord Rivers. They had two sons and two daughters.

Lloyd was knighted in 1745 on the occasion of the loyal address after the Jacobite rising, and he was one of the prosecutors in Lord Lovat’s trial in 1746. Also in 1745, the 90-year old dowager countess of Winchelsea, widow of Heneage Finch, the 3rd Earl of Winchelsea, died, leaving Lloyd her entire estate `inexplicably’, says the DNB. This inheritance supported him in Parliament and enabled him to buy Hintlesham Hall, near Ipswich, in 1747.

Sir Richard Lloyd was also an early patron of Thomas Gainsborough in his Suffolk days. The earliest portrait Gainsborough did of members of the family is that of the eldest son, Richard Savage Lloyd and his mother, possibly as early as 1745 or 1746.

Around 1750, Gainsborough painted the elder sister, Cecil,

and also the two youngest children, Heneage and his sister Lucy:

Finally, sometime in the 1750s, although the date is uncertain, Gainsborough painted Sir Richard himself.

Sir Richard was an MP until 1759, resigning when he was appointed a judge. He was a supporter of Kirby’s, subscribing to both the Historical Account and the Method of Perspective, and knew the family well. The eldest brother of Kirby, John, born in 1715, had been trained as a lawyer, and was a junior partner to Lloyd. When John was appointed Under-Treasurer at the Middle Temple in 1748 (Lloyd was Treasurer), Lloyd wrote to him, that “the gentlemen that nominated you cannot and will not repent; for if honour, honesty, and stedfastness are required, they could not have pitched upon so proper a person as yourself, for I can answer that every one of those qualifications are thoroughly grafted in you”. Unfortunately, John Kirby died in 1750.