Suffolk is one of those English Counties of which no general History, on a
satisfactory scale, has yet made its appearance; and the printed information
which we possess, respecting it, must, upon the whole, be considered as rather
scanty which certainly does not happen from any want of materials, as many able
and industrious Antiquaries have, for several ages, employed themselves in
making collections; but this rather, perhaps, with a design in their researches
to gratify their own particular taste, than to inform or amuse the public.
That accomplished scholar, and profound antiquary, Sir Simonds D'Ewes, Bart., of
Stowlangtoft, in this county, appears to have been the first who did so with a
view to publication, whose papers remain among the Harleian manuscript, in the
British Museum; among which are the following relative to this county:
"Collections for the county of Suffolk;" the original Register of Bury Abbey,
entitled "Croftis, for the Pietancer's use;" and another Register of the
same house, entitled "Werketonc." Some extracts from his manuscript
journal were published by John Nichols, Esq., about 1783, as the xvth number of
the " Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica."
Robert Ryece, Esq., the friend and contemporary of Sir Simonds, may be also
noticed; he was a native of Preston, in this county: of whom a manuscript in the
Herald's College, relating to the county of Suffolk, gives the following
account: "In Preston, in the time of K. James and K. Charles, there lived Robert
Riece, Esq., an accomplished gentleman, and a great preserver of the antiquities
of this county. He was sonne of Robert Riece, Esq., who lived at Preston, in the
daies of K. Edward 6, Q. Mary, and Q. Elizabeth; and was a Justice of Peace for
the county of Suffolk. Robert Riece, Esq. (the subject of this article) had his
education some years in the house of Mr. Theodore Beza, at Geneva. He set up in
Preston the Royall Armes of England, in a fair table, and in glasse, the names
of the most ancient Knights and Esquires of this county, of which the most
remain this 25th of March, 1655."
The manuscript from which the above was extracted, is a folio volume, of about
three hundred pages; and consists of church notes, family pedigrees, &c. Lord
Thurlow presented it, in 1803, to the Herald's College. It is supposed to have
been principally written by Mr. Riece, but has some entries made since his
decease, probably by his nephew, Robert Appleton, who has inscribed on a page of
the same "He (Mr. Riece) was bountiful to the Poor, good to his Friends, a
Christian to his Enemies, gentle to all, and to me a good Uncle. So I testify:
A collection of Suffolk Antiquities, very similar to this, and in many parts the
same, was in the possession of the late Mr. James Conder, of Ipswich, the
respectable author of a "Treatise on Provincial Coins."
Another folio volume of this gentleman's collecting, was in the library of the
late George Nassau, Esq.; and there is a manuscript in the British Museum,
entitled "A Breviary of Suffolk," said to have been compiled by him: it is
dedicated to Sir Robert Crane, of Chilton Hall, in Suffolk; signed "Reyece," and
dated 9th Feb. 1618. A letter that relates to Suffolk Genealogy, and addressed
to Sir Simond's D'Ewes, dated in 1636, and signed "Robert Ryece, "is also
deposited in the same place. The other volume was formerly in the possession of
Arthur Collins, Esq., author of "The Peerage of England," and afterwards of
Nicholas Revett, Esq., of Brandeston Hall, in this county: it was illustrated
with the arms of the families of the county, beautifully emblazoned.
Sin Richard Gipps, of Great Welnetham, in this county, Knt., and of Gray's Inn,
Master of the Revels to King Charles II., was the writer of "Antiquitates
Suffolcienses, or an Essay towards recovering some account of the Ancient
Families in the County of Suffolk;" a small work, which remains in manuscript,
and of which there are several copies. Sir Richard died in 1708.
The collections of Peter Le Neve, Esq., and "honest Tom Martin," contain much
topographical information concerning this county; to whom succeeded George
Nassau, Esq., of Trimley St. Martin; whose attention was early directed to the
elucidation of. the Antiquities of Suffolk, and his collections in this, his
favorite department, were most ample, and profusely enriched with accurate
drawings of churches, monuments, seats, buildings, &c.; indeed a more choice or
valuable treasure of Suffolk Topography, and of works in illustration of it, has
been seldom or ever collected.
Mr. Nassau died August 18, 1823; and in the Gentleman's Magazine for that month,
an excellent Memoir of him was inserted, from the pen of the Rev. James Ford,
B.D., Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford, and at that time Minister of St.
Lawrence, in Ipswich, now Vicar of Navestock, in Essex; a gentleman to whom the
public are indebted for much valuable genealogical information, respecting many
Suffolk families, &c.
In the year 1829, the library of Craven Ord, Esq., was dispersed, by Mr. Evans,
and at the same time were sold some very valuable historical manuscripts; one of
the most important was "Suffolk Collections," in twenty folio volumes, and three
volumes of indexes, purchased by Mr. Thorpe, bookseller, for 200 guineas.
"Registrum de Bury, temp. Edw. III.," brought £126.
There were also sold various Charters, Chartularies, Registries, &c. relating to
this county. This auction consisted of 655 lots, including about 50 lots of
autographs, and 120 volumes of ancient English manuscript; and certainly no sale
within memory, has distributed so extraordinary an assemblage of ancient and
important MSS. relative to English history, many of which had previously
belonged to Mr. Thomas Martin, the Thetford historian, and had been acquired by
Mr. Ord, at a very trifling expense. A lot of Escheat Rolls, of Norfolk and
Suffolk, of the 9th of Henry VII., brought £16: this manuscript, and three
others, was purchased at Martin's sale for 12s. It was understood that a
considerable portion of the MSS. sold at Mr. Ord's, were afterwards added to the
large collection of Sir Thomas Phillips, Bart., F.S.A.
The largest collection of materials for a County History, is now deposited in
the British Museum; it was formed by the late Henry Jermyn, of Sibton, Esq.,
after whose death it was purchased by Hudson Gurney, of Keswick Hall, Esq., and
presented by him: it is in upwards of fifty folio volumes.
These are some of the materials towards a General History of this county,
scattered, it is true, in various directions; but if collected and arranged,
together with the various collections made by other individuals, that still
remain in their own possession, would be found amply sufficient. The various
publications of a local nature, that have appeared at different times, will also
certainly contribute greatly to the assistance of the future historian of the
The earliest distinct work that has appeared on the topography of this county in
general, is a small 12mo. volume, published in 1735, under the title of "The
Suffolk Traveler; or a Journey through Suffolk: in which is inserted the true
distance of the roads from Ipswich to every Market Town in Suffolk, and the same
from Bury St. Edmund's. Likewise the distance in the roads from one village to
another, with notes of direction for Travelers, as to what churches and
gentlemen's seats are passed by, and on which side of the road, and the distance
they are at from either of the said towns: with a short historical account of
the antiquities of every market town; monasteries, castles, &c., that were in
former times. Ipswich, 1735."
This volume is now become rare, and was the result of the labors of Mr. John
Kirby, from an actual survey of the whole county, taken by him in the years
1732, 1733, and 1734; with which a small map of the county was published. Mr.
Kirby was originally a school-master, at Oxford, in this county, but at the time
of making this survey occupied a mill, at Wickham Market. He died at Ipswich,
December 13, 1753; aged 63 years.
A new edition of his work was published by subscription, with many alterations,
and large additions, by several hands, in 1764. London: 8vo. This volume,
besides a folio map of the county, contains engravings of the principal roads in
Suffolk, on four 4to plates; and becoming scarce about thirty years since,
frequently sold at from 20s. to 30s. a copy. A reprint was shortly after issued
from Woodbridge, containing some trifling additions, which met with a ready
sale; and another edition, with additions, has since been published by Mr.
Munro, of the same place.
"A Topographical and Historical Description of the County of Suffolk; containing
an account of its Towns, Castles, Antiquities, Churches, Monuments, Public
Edifices, Picturesque Scenery, the Residences of the Nobility, Gentry, &c.,
accompanied with Biographical Notices of Eminent and Learned Men, to whom this
county has given birth. "By Mr. Shoberl. Illustrated with thirteen engravings
and a map.
"Excursions through Suffolk" differs but little from the above, except in the
arrangement and illustrations, of which it contains one hundred, neat
engravings. These, if we include an elegant volume in 4to., recently published,
of "The History and Antiquities of Suffolk, containing Thingoe Hundred;" by John
Gage Rokewode, Esq., F.R.S., and Dir. S.A., makes the whole that has appeared
towards a General History of this county.
The following sheets have no pretension whatever to be termed a History of
Suffolk, although more ample than its predecessors; the Compiler has neither
leisure or ability for such an undertaking: but merely a collection of
topographical and genealogical facts, relative to that county; for which the
only credit the Editor can possibly hope to obtain, must arise from the accuracy
with which his materials are collected and disposed: and he is quite sure that,
pursuing the same plan, with a more extended investigation, much more might be
It remains to state what has been attempted, and to point out the sources from
whence his principal information is derived. To assist the etymologist, the
names of the different parishes are prefixed, as they are written in Doomsday
Book, or ancient documents.
The manorial descents, and genealogical information, have been compiled from the
historians of neighboring counties, particularly Messrs. Morant and Blomefield.
The old Peerages and Baronetages of Messrs. Collins, Wotton, Kimber, and
Johnson, have been consulted, regarding those families since extinct; and these
authorities being now scarce, a more ample detail of such has been given: whilst
the accounts of existing families of distinction, may easily be ascertained, by
a reference to our modern publications on that subject, such as Debrett, Burke,
For the heraldic information, he is indebted to the same authorities, and other
writers on heraldry: the monastic, to "Taylor's Index Monasticus," for this
The biographical sketches are gathered from various sources, amongst which the
"Gentleman's Magazine," and the "Suffolk Garland," ought to he particularly
acknowledged. The account of the different charities, and charitable
institutions, is abridged from the Parliamentary Commissioners' Report.
It has been thought in several respects the more eligible mode to publish in
separate parts, and the Compiler proposes to adopt that method; following the
order of Mr. Kirby's arrangement. The continuance must, however, depend upon the
reception given to it by the public; for although gain has no part in this
production (for if others find that pleasure in reading which he has done in
writing, he is repaid), nevertheless he cannot profess himself so disinterested
as willingly to make any pecuniary sacrifice in the undertaking, did his
circumstances permit, which is not the case.
Mr. Hutton, the historian of Birmingham, in his preface to that work, observes
"Although works of genius ought to come out of the mint doubly refined, yet
History admits of a much greater latitude to the author: the best upon the
subject, though defective, may meet with regard."
County of Suffolk
Topographical and Genealogical, The County of Suffolk, 1844, Augustine Page