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Introduction, County of Suffolk, 1844

British Isles Genealogy | County of Suffolk
 

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: Robert Appleton."

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 county.

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 effected.

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, and others.

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 county.

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

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