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Letters to John Ives

Call Number: LWL MSS 4

Scope and Contents

Series I contains thirty-nine letters written to the British antiquary John Ives, dating from 1771 to 1779, which reveal the close-knit world of antiquarians in England in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The correspondents include John Charles Brooke (2 letters), William Boys (1), John Bowle (1), Richard Bull (1), John Darby (1), Andrew C. Ducarel (6), William Gostling (1), Richard Gough (1), John Granger (6), James Hammond (2), Edward Jacob (1), Augustine Mann (1), Benjamin Pouncy (1), George Sandby (1), Joseph Strutt (1), Edward Thomas (1), Richard Turner (1), and John White (10). Series II holds one letter from Ives to Charles Ellis, and Series III has notes by Ives and the paper wrapper that formerly held the letters.

Ives's correspondents comment on each other's publications, buy and trade coins and seals, talk about shops and dealers in the trade, discuss other collectors and scholars engaged in similar research, mention recent discoveries of antiquities, and speculate on the dispersal of the collections of recently deceased collectors James West and Thomas Martin. They also discuss specific historical sites especially in the areas of--but not limited to--Kent, Suffolk, and Yarmouth, including a Roman Tower near Maidstone, Canterbury, and Monk Bretton Priory.

Several of the letters cover the details of negotiating with engravers and printers Turner and Pouncey, as well as William Norris, to produce accurate reproductions of the antiquities in their collections or for use in their publications. Augustine Mann writes of the history of the Cinque Ports and the Dover Straits. Hammond and Mann discuss searching the monastic archives at Nieuwport in Flanders.

All the letters are autograph and are signed by the writers. Many of the letters were annotated by Ives to indicate the date that he responded and the gist of his response.


  • 1771 - 1779


Language of Materials

In English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Letters to John Ives is the physical property of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the W. S. Lewis Librarian/Executive Director.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Maggs Bros.Ltd., December 2008.


Organized into three series: I. Letters to John Ives, 1771-1779. II. Letter from John Ives, 1771. III. Other Papers, undated.


0.21 Linear Feet (1 box)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


A collection of thirty-nine letters to the British antiquary and herald John Ives (1751-1776), from several antiquarian colleagues, collectors, and scholars.

John Ives (1751-1776)

John Ives, a British antiquary and herald, was born in Great Yarmouth, England, the son of John Ives, a wealthy merchant, and his wife Mary Hannot Ives. He was educated in Norwich and attended Caius College of the University of Cambridge, but did not graduate. An officer of arms at the College of Arms in London, Ives was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1771 and made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1773. In August 1773 Ives married Sarah Kett of Lopham, Norfolk.

Ives published several antiquarian collections before he died of consumption at Great Yarmouth on January 9, 1776. He was buried in the churchyard at Belton, Suffolk, with his father and grandfather. His library and collections of coins, medals, ancient paintings, and antiquities were sold at auction in London in the spring of 1777.

Guide to the Letters to John Ives
by Sandra Markham
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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