Joshua Kirby’s Labourer in Trust at Richmond and Kew was Joseph Phillips. They did not always get along. When Kirby was appointed Clerk of the Works in 1761, Phillips had already been Labourer in Trust for fifteen years. He was appointed to the post 01 December 1746, when Henry Stallard succeeded Henry Flitcroft as Clerk of the Works as part of a series of promotions and movements. Kirby was the fourth Clerk Phillips worked under.
The laconic minutes of the weekly meetings of the Board of Works do not give much background, but Kirby must have complained about Phillips’ performance because Phillips was summoned to a Board meeting in November 1761:
November 18 1761 (WORK 4/13)
Joseph Phillipps, Laborer in Trust at Richmond attended pursuant to Order and was directed to attend his Duty constantly on the Spot under the directions of Mr. Kirby, Clerk of the Works, And that Mr. Kirby find some Convenient Place for him to live in.
In 1761, Joshua Kirby and his son William were appointed joint Clerks of the Works and Storekeepers at Richmond and Kew. The two positions of Richmond and Kew always went together, with that of Richmond being considered the more important. Later in the 1760s and 1770s, there was more construction and redecoration at Kew and the pace of work picked up. The basic salary for Richmond was 2s 3d a day, while for Kew it was only 1s. This was not a great deal of money. The Labourer in Trust received 2s 2d, and a regular labourer could earn 2s a day.
Headline salaries are misleading, though. William Hogarth’s official payment as Serjeant painter to the King was only £10, but he boasted that the post was worth two or three hundred pounds a year to him. There were all sorts of perquisites and ways of generating additional income. The arcane system of allowances extended down as far as the Clerk of the Works. The details of the accounts for the period when Kirby was Clerk of the Works are no longer available, just the monthly summaries, but the accounts do exist for 1781 (in the volume WORK 5/69 at the National Archives). These accounts give the breakdown of payments to Kirby’s successor, Thomas Fülling. Given that Kirby’s income never changed over the period he held the position, and that Fülling received the same payment, we can be fairly sure that the same set of allowances were in force for Kirby. Here is the account for January 1781:
The various palaces and estates of the royal household were managed by the Office of Works, headed by a Surveyor-General. Each location was supervised by a Clerk of the Works, usually with the assistance of a Labourer in Trust. The Clerk of the Works was responsible for construction, maintenance, decoration, and repair, and dealing with the various contractors who would do the actual work. The minutes of the weekly meeting of the Board of Works for February 24, 1761 note:
Order’d that Joshua and William Kirby be joint Clerks of the Works and Storekeepers at Richmond and Kew in the Room of John Smith Upon the Establish’d Salary and Allowances of the Clerkship at Kensington Palace
And John Smith to be Clerk of the Works at Kensington Palace in the Room of John Vardy, Upon the Established Salary and Allowances of Richmond and Kew.