Family Bible of William Dance and Susanna Richardson of Suffolk, 1790s
A two volume leather bound set of Thomas Coke’s “Commentary on the New Testament”, published 1803 and bearing a small leather and gold tooled book plate on the front end paper in the name of W. S. Dance.
The Bible set contains a comprehensive four page family register of the Dance and Spurrell family, naming individuals who lived on the Suffolk coast between 1680s – 1890s. We believe from the information given in the Bible that it was the property of William Dance and his wife (and cousin) Susanna Richardson who moved to Lowestoft in December 1798 following their marriage in November 1798.
William’s father is listed as being of Aldborough, which we believe to be Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast. The genealogical details in the family register, covering four pages of neat handwritting, although scant on location information, gives one of the most detailed ancestral lists we’ve ever seen.
Unusually for unrestored Bibles, the boards are attached, and the leatherbinding, though scuffed in places, is in remarkable good condition with some gold tooling still visible. The binding is tight, and the family register is clear and unblemished. In need of little restoratation, these volumes have a understated gravitas.
Thomas Coke was one of the founders of American Methodism, and his Commentary on the New Testament is considered to be an important theological work, perhaps shedding some interesting light on the religious views of William and Susanna Dance. Coke was born in Brecon, Wales, the son of a medical practitioner. He was educated at Brecon Grammar School and Jesus College, Oxford, and was elected mayor of Brecon shortly after graduating in 1768. Coke took Holy Orders in August 1772 but was ejected from his curacy in Somerset for trying to run the parish on Methodist principles. He moved to London and placed himself under the direction of John Wesley, swiftly reaching a position of prominence.