George Hibbert

13th Jan 1757 - 8th Oct 1837

Claimant or beneficiary

Biography

  1. George Hibbert, West India merchant, slave and plantation owner, collector and philanthropist was born in 1757 to Robert (1717-1784) and Abigail Hibbert née Scholey (1721-1793) of Stockfield Hall near Manchester. Robert was a West India merchant and cotton manufacturer in Manchester with commercial premises on King’s Street, he was also a trustee of the dissenting Cross Street Chapel. George’s uncle Thomas Hibbert (1710-1780) was known as ‘the late Mr. Thomas Hibbert, who had for forty or fifty years before been the most eminent Guinea factor in Kingston, and a most respectable character.’ The family owned several large estates in Jamaica. George was educated at Reverend Booth’s academy at Woolten Hall. In 1784 he married Elizabeth Fonnereau (1765-1841), the daughter of Phillip Fonnereau, an M.P. and Director of the Bank of England. The couple had fourteen children.

  2. In 1781 he left Manchester and joined the family counting house Hibbert, Purrier and Horton which was engaged in the West India trade. The partnership reconfigured several times over the years; it was involved in the shipping and distribution of slave produced good, particularly sugar from Jamaica. Over the course of his career he became the senior partner in the Hibbert family partnerships, the Chairman of the West India Dock Company, a central figure in the Society of West India Planters and Merchants, an Alderman for the City of London (1798-1802), a Member of Parliament for Seaford (1806-1812), and finally the Agent for Jamaica (1812-1831). Such was his reputation within the City that by 1816 he was acknowledged as ‘an eminent West India Merchant, whose family has long been considered as the head of the principal commercial house in Jamaica.’

  3. George was a leading member of the proslavery lobby. He acted as the Chairman of the Society of West India Merchants. He gave evidence to Parliament in 1790 supporting the slave trade and making claims for compensation. He gave three speeches to Parliament in 1807 during the slave trade debates which were later published. He wrote a pamphlet on the Slave Registry Bill in 1816. As Agent for Jamaica he acted as the an intermediary between the imperial Parliament and the Jamaica House of Assembly.

  4. In 1793 George Hibbert became involved in the plan to build closed wet docks for the West India trade. The West India Docks were constructed on the Isle of Dogs and opened for business in 1802. George invested £2,000 and acted as Chairman of the West India Dock Company eight times between 1799-1815.

  5. As a philanthropist George was involved in the establishment of the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck in 1824. Sir William Hillary recruited George to help generate funds from his mercantile connections in the City. He was also involved with the London Institution which was founded in 1805 and paid for by subscription. The enterprise involved George Hibbert and his friends Sir Francis Baring and John Julius Angerstein, as well as the abolitionists Henry and John Thornton, and Zachary Macaulay who acted a managers. The Institution was intended for the diffusion of useful knowledge in the arts and sciences with an eye to increasing the productivity and efficiency of commerce and industry both at home and out in the empire. Hibbert took a leading role in its establishment and acted as both President and Vice-President between 1805-1830. The magnificent building at Finsbury Circus was designed by William Brooks and constructed by Thomas Cubitt.

  6. George was a member of a number of learned societies and clubs including the Freemasons, the Linnean Society, the Royal Society and the Society of Antiquaries. He became a member of the elite bibliophile group the Roxburghe Club in 1816. In 1810 he was sponsored by Earl Fitzwilliam and elected to the Brooks’s.

  7. George collected books, prints and art. Major sales of his collection took place in 1802, 1809, 1829 and 1833, 1860, 1868 and 1902. The sale in 1829 was noted in that it ‘occupied altogether forty-two days... There were eight thousand seven hundred and ninety-four lots, representing about twenty thousand volumes; and the total amount realised was twenty-one thousand seven hundred and fifty-three pounds, nine shillings.’

  8. George inherited a country house and estate called Munden in Hertfordshire through his wife Elizabeth Fonnereau’s uncle Rogers Parker in 1829. Prior to that he had resided at different times in Broad Street in the City, Clapham Common Northside and Portland Place. George died at Munden in 1837. Munden remains within the Holland-Hibbert family today.

Sources

  1. Oliver Vere Langford, Caribbeana being miscellaneous papers relating to the history, genealogy, topography, and antiquities of the British West Indies, Vol.4 (London, 1919), p.195. Sir Thomas Baker, Memorials of a Dissenting Chapel, its foundation and worthies; being a sketch of the rise of Non-Conformity in Manchester and the erection of the Chapel in Cross Street, with notices of its Ministers and Trustees (Manchester, Johnson and Rawson, 1884). Evidence given by Hercules Ross, 1790-91, quoted in Richard Sheridan, ‘The Commercial and Financial Organisation of the British Slave Trade, 1750-1807’, in Economic History Review, New Series, Vol.11, No.2 (1958), p.255.

  2. John Watkins, Frederic Shoberl and William Upcott, A biographical dictionary of the living authors of Great Britain and Ireland (London, Henry Colburn, 1816), p.155.

  3. George Hibbert, The Substance of Three Speeches to Parliament on the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and on the Petition Respecting the State of the West India Trade in February & March 1807.

  4. Evidence given by George Hibbert, Report from the Select Committee into the means of improving and maintaining the foreign trade of the Country (London, 1823), p.142.

  5. http://rnli.org/safetyandeducation/teachersandyouthleaders/teachingpacks/Pages/Save-lives-at-sea/Tab2/How-did-they-plan-for-success.aspx [accessed 01/02/2013]. Janet C. Cutler, ‘The London Institution, 1805-1933’, unpublished PhD Thesis (University of Leicester, 1976).

  6. http://royalsociety.org/uploadedFiles/Royal_Society_Content/about-us/fellowship/Fellows1660-2007.pdf [accessed 01/02/2013]; http://www.roxburgheclub.org.uk/membership/index.php?MemberID=32; http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1790-1820/member/hibbert-george-1757-1837 [accessed 01/02/2013].

  7. Pieces from George Hibbert’s collection featured in the ‘Prized Possessions’ exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge which ran from 25 May 2010 to Sun 26 September 2010; William Younger Fletcher, English Book Collectors (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co., 1902), p.302.


Further Information

Absentee?
British/Irish
Spouse
Elizabeth Margaret Fonnereau
Children
Elizabeth Sophia (1785-), Charlotte (1786-), Caroline (1788-), Fanny (1789-), Isabella (1790-), George (1792-1795), Nathaniel (1794-), George (1796-), Edward (1797-1824), Mary Anne (1799-1830), Georgiana Christiana (1802-), Octavia (1802-), Harriet (1804-
Will

George Hibbert of Mundon House, co. Hertford, Esq. Will dated 29 Feb. 1836. Confirm my marriage settlement dated 26 Aug. 1784. To Mrs. H. all rents, interest from lands and stocks vested in me as tenant for life under the will of Rogers Parker, Esq. All furniture, plate, pictures, books, horses, stock, etc., at Munden to my Ex'ors to permit my wife to retain on payment of £5000. My brother Robert H. advanced me in 1831 £5000, and myself and son Nath. executed a bond, and a moiety has been repaid. Legacies to servants. My estates in Jamaica, compensation monies, stock, leaseholds, dock, canal and other shares, and all residue of personal est. to my Ex’ors on trust to sell. Any monies lying in the mercantile house in which I have been a partner to remain as long as they think proper. The portions of my daus. to be made up to £3500 each. One moiety of clear residue to each of my sons Nath. H. and George H., they and my son-in-law Samuel H. Ex'ors. Codicil dated 4 Jan. 1837. Proved 9 Jan. 1838. (75, Nichol.) Markland & Wright, Temple.

School
Rev. Bartholomew Boothe's Academy at Liverpool and later Woolten Hall
Occupation
West India merchant and plantation owner

Associated Claims (19)

£3,523 11S 9D
Awardee
£1,698 9S 4D
Awardee
£2,468 8S 8D
Awardee
£3,558 14S 0D
Awardee
£1,407 1S 9D
Awardee
£742 17S 0D
Awardee (Owner-in-fee)
£1,388 8S 0D
Awardee
£6,244 4S 5D
Awardee
£6,252 12S 0D
Awardee
£3,135 18S 2D
Awardee (Mortgagee)
£6,338 5S 10D
Awardee
£3,599 4S 5D
Awardee
£1,307 13S 1D
Awardee
£527 12S 2D
Awardee
£2,634 19S 3D
Awardee
£6,472 12S 7D
Awardee
£5,541 1S 11D
Awardee
£3,220 10S 10D
Awardee
£2,997 13S 11D
Awardee

Legacies Summary

Commercial (1)

Senior partner
G. W. S. Hibbert & Co.
West India merchant  
 

Cultural (15)

Paintings
George Hibbert sold approximately 10,000 etchings including 305 Rembrandts and 730 Rudens in 1809. Catalogue of a Superb Assemblage of Prints and Books of Prints, formed by George Hibbert, sold... 
Master
Cloth Workers Company...... 
notes →
Hibbert had been a member since...
Member
Committee for manning the Royal Navy...... 
Member
Committee on French Privateers...... 
Member
Freemasons...... 
notes →
Hibbert was a member of the Shakespeare’s Lodge,...
Fellow
Linnean Society of London...... 
President
London Institution...... 
Honorary Member
Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society...... 
Member
Roxburghe Club...... 
notes →
The [Roxburghe Club](http://www.roxburgheclub.org.uk/), had its first anniversary dinner on 17/06/1813. Among the earliest members were the London West India merchant Robert Lang (member 1812-1828)...
Vice-President
Royal Jennerian Society for the Extermination of Small Pox...... 
Co-founder
Royal National Lifeboat Institution...... 
Fellow
Royal Society...... 
Member
Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture...... 
Fellow
Society of Antiquaries...... 
Member
Society of Marine Architects...... 

Historical (5)

PamphletsAuthor?
The Substance of Three Speeches in Parliament, on the Bill for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, and on the Petition Respecting the State of the West India... 1807 
PamphletsAuthor?
Brief Remarks upon the Slave Registry Bill; and upon a Special Report of the African Institution Recommending that... 1816 
notes →
Also published 1816 in 'The Pamphleteer' at pages...
PamphletsAuthor?
The Reviewer Reviewed or Some Cursory Observations upon an Article in the Christian Observer for January, 1816, Respecting the Slave Registry Bill . . . By Thomas... 1816 
BooksAuthor?
Metamorphoses by... 1819 
notes →
Caxton's translation with a preface by George...
PamphletsAuthor?
Correspondence between Mr George Hibbert and the Society of... 1833 

Imperial (2)

Member of Assembly
Jamaica 
Agent
Jamaica 

Physical (2)

Country house
Munden 
description →
Hibbert extensively remodelled Munden House in the...
notes →
Dock
West India Docks 
description →
George Hibbert was a leading member of the West India Dock Company which instigated the building of the West India docks in...

Political (2)

MP
Whig 
election →
Seaford Sussex
1806 - 1812
parliamentary notes →

Urban Politics
 
political association →
City of London Bridge Within Alderman
1798 - 1803

Relationships (9)

Father → Son
Uncle → Nephew
Uncle → Nephew
Other relatives
Notes →
First cousins once removed: George's father Robert (1717-1784) was the brother of Washington's grandfather John...
Uncle → Nephew
First Cousins
Other relatives
Notes →
First cousins once removed. George Hibbert's father Robert (1717-1784) and Thomas Hibbert junior's grandfather John (1732-1769) were...
Brothers
Uncle → Nephew

Addresses (4)

Broad Street, London, Middlesex, London, England
Clapham Common Northside, Clapham, Surrey, London, England
Munden, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, South-east England, England
Portland Place, London, Middlesex, London, England