John Ives 1751-1776

From Book Owners Online

John IVES 1751-1776

Biographical Note

Born at Great Yarmouth, son of John Ives, a wealthy merchant there. He worked briefly for his father's business but the family wealth meant that he did not need paid employment, and he developed antiquarian interests, partly encouraged by Thomas Martin. As well as assembling extensive collections, he supported the publication of various local historical works, and acquired a printing press. He published, himself, Select papers chiefly relating to English antiquities (3 volumes, 1773-75), among other things. In 1775 he was appointed Suffolk herald-extraordinary at the College of Arms, but his health failed soon afterwards and he died of tuberculosis the following year. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1773.


Ives developed extensive collections, not only of books and manuscripts but also of seals, coins, prints and other antiquarian artefacts. In his will, he directed that these be sold for the benefit of his widow, and his library was auctioned in London, together with "the valuable library of another gentleman", beginning 3 March 1777. The sale catalogue, which contains 1256 lots, mostly in English, advertised "books of antiquities, curious manuscripts (both on vellum and paper) in heraldry, family pedigrees, visitations, and antiquities of various counties, fine illuminated missals, etc". One of the copies in the British Library (824.b.17(3)) has a contemporary manuscript note identifying the other gentleman as John White of Newgate Street. Ives's coins and medals were separately auctioned, beginning 13 February 1777 (ESTC t26719). Examples: Senate House Library G.L. 1576 SR.

Characteristic Markings

Ives used an ink stamp, "J: IVES: F.R.S*SUFFOLK HERALD".


  • Alston, R. C., Inventory of sale catalogues ... 1676-1800, St Philip, 2010.
  • A catalogue of the ... library of John Ives, [London, 1777], ESTC t2200.
  • Cheesman, C. E. A. "Ives, John (1751–1776), antiquary and herald." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.