The Correspondence of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, 1710-1761

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One of the more remarkable survivals from sociable eighteenth-century England is the Spalding Gentlemen's Society. Founded in 1710 in Spalding in the south Lincolnshire Fens by the local barrister Maurice Johnson, to encourage the growth of 'friendship and knowledge', it received hundreds of letters from correspondents across Britain and overseas. Concerned with such matters as antiquities, natural philosophy, numismatics, mathematics, literature and the arts, they were collated by Johnson to provide material for the Society's weekly Thursday meetings. This detailed calendar brings together the 580 letters to survive, from some 154 correspondents. 119 were members of the Spalding Society, including well-known figures of the intellectual world: Martin Folkes, Roger Gale, William Stukeley, many Freemasons and three secretaries of the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. The letters are fully annotated and indexed; fifty-four are transcribed in full. They provide a vivid picture of the interests of the 'curious' and demonstrate how knowledge spread during the eighteenth century.