William Stevenson Fitch, notebooks

Scope and Content

This archive includes:

- Catalogue of Suffolk portraits compiled by William Stevenson Fitch, portraits are listed alphabetically by sitter within classification: titled persons, members of parliament, military and civil officers, bishops, clergymen, landed proprietors, patrons of livings etc, private individuals, actors and notorious characters etc, c. 1850s.

- Catalogue of engraved portraits with prices compiled by William Stevenson Fitch, the majority of portraits are listed by engraver's name, with additional sequences for other prints, and an index of names (pp. 170-177), c. 1850s.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Stevenson Fitch (1792-1859) was born at Ipswich, the son of Samuel Fitch, druggist, and Elizabeth Stevenson. He had an early and consuming fascination with old documents, autographs, prints and coins, particularly those relating to Suffolk history.

Fitch secretly married Rachel Alexander, a gamekeeper's daughter, who was responsible for the running of Ham House, Surrey, the principal home of Louisa, seventh countess of Dysart. Ham House and Helmingham Hall (another property in the Dysart estate) both possessed important archives and libraries which Fitch gained intimate access and from which he appopriated, apparently without the knowledge of the elderly countess, a large quantity of manuscript and early printed material. Some of which he later sold.

Despite his irregular activities, which many of his contemporaries had certain knowledge of, Fitch was respected in his lifetime for his knowledge of Suffolk antiquaries. He was an active member of both the British Archaeological Association and the Suffolk Institute of Archaelogy. In 1837 he was appointed postmaster of Ipswich, a post he held until 1859. He died on 17 July 1859 and was survived by his wife and three children.

This biographical description is largely based on Janet Ing Freeman, 'Fitch, William Stevenson (1792–1859)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [ http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/9517 , accessed 1 Aug 2017]

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.