Boileau, John Peter (DNB00)

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BOILEAU, Sir JOHN PETER (1794–1869), archæologist, was the son of John Peter Boileau, the descendant of a Huguenot family who claimed descent from Etienne Boileau, first grand provost of Paris in 1250. The father went to India with his relative, General Cailland, where he filled the highest offices in the presidency of Madras, and returned to England with an ample fortune in 1785. He purchased the estate of Tacolnestone in Norfolk, but died at his residence at Mortlake in Surrey, 10 March 1837, in his ninety-first year. By his wife Henrietta, eldest daughter and coheiress of the Rev. George Pollen, he was father of the subject of the present memoir. John Peter Boileau was born in Hertford Street, Mayfair, London, 2 Sept. 1794, being his father's eldest son. He became second lieutenant, 9 Sept. 1813, of the Rifle Corps, a regiment raised by his uncle, General Manningham, and served for some years, when he was placed on half-pay, 14 Aug. 1817. In 1836 he purchased the estate of Ketteringham, Norfolk, and was created a baronet, 24 July 1838, on the occasion of the coronation of her majesty. He afterwards made other purchases in the neighbourhood of Ketteringham, at Hethall and Hetherset, and in the vicinity of Yarmouth became the proprietor of Burgh Castle in Suffolk, the ancient Gariononum, perhaps the most remarkable example of Roman masonry in any part of England. It is to be remembered to his honour as an antiquary that he purchased that interesting remain to prevent it falling into hands which might have wrought its destruction. At Ketteringham he made great improvements by the erection of a spacious Gothic hall, and his house was richly stored with paintings, books, and many choice monuments of antiquity. Boileau was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, 1 June 1843, and of the Society of Antiquaries, 9 Dec. 1852. On the formation of the Norfolk and Norwich Archæological Society in December 1845 he was nominated one of the vice-presidents, and in 1849, on the death of Bishop Stanley, he succeeded to the office of president. To vol. v. of ‘Norfolk Archæology’ he communicated ‘An old Poem on Norfolk, written temp. Elizabeth,’ and ‘A Notice of a Sceatta found at Burgh Castle,’ and in vol. vii. are his remarks ‘On some Reaping Machines of the Ancient Gauls.’ In 1850 he sent to the Archæological Institute an account of ‘An Examination of some Roman Remains at Redenham in Hampshire.’ On the nomination of Earl Stanhope he served for two periods of four years as one of the vice-presidents of the Society of Antiquaries, from 1858 to 1862, and from 1863 to 1867. He excelled as a chairman, having a rapid appreciation of any subject brought to his attention and a pleasing tact in discussing its merits. In addition to the institutions already named he was a vice-president of the Zoological Society, the Statistical Society, the Archæological Institute, and the Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, in all of which he for a long period took a prominent part and a most lively interest. He was also a vice-president of the British Association, a vice-president of the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street, president of the Norwich School of Design, and a fellow of the Geological Society. He served the office of sheriff in Norfolk in 1844. As a country gentleman he performed the duties of his position with scrupulous care, urbanity of manner, and genial kindness of heart. He suffered for some months from chronic bronchitis, and resided on that account at Torquay, where his death occurred 9 March 1869. His body was brought thence to Ketteringham and deposited in the family vault. Boileau married, 14 Nov. 1825, Lady Catherine Sarah Elliot, third daughter of Gilbert, first earl of Minto. She was born 2 July 1797, and died 22 June 1862. As a memorial to his wife he fitted up the Catherine ward in the Norfolk County Hospital. The eldest surviving son, now Sir Francis George Manningham Boileau, a barrister of Lincoln's Inn, has succeeded to his father's title and estates.

[The History and Topography of Ketteringham, by Joseph Hunter, F.S.A., in Norfolk Archæology, being the Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Archæological Society, iii. 245–314 (1852), and Notice of the Excavations at Burgh Castle by H. Harrod, F.S.A., in ii. pt. i. 146–60 (1856); The Register and Magazine of Biography, i. 292–4 (1869).]

G. C. B.