1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Joseph Mawbey

Anonymous, "An Account of Sir Joseph Mawbey" European Magazine 11 (March 1787) 139-40.



Sir JOSEPH MAWBEY, Bart. is descended from a family in the county of Norfolk, which in the civil wars in the last century possessed considerable property and influence, both which were greatly diminished by the violence of the times. The father of Sir Joseph was born at Rannston, in the counties of Leicester and Derby, where he had an estate. He married Martha Pratt, and by her, besides other children, had the object of our present consideration, who was also born at Raunston. At the age of about ten years, he was taken by his uncle Joseph Pratt, Esq. of Vauxhall, in the county of of Surrey, and educated by him until near 17, with a view to his being admitted into holy orders: but that gentleman, who was engaged in the malt distillery, perceiving the declining state of health of another nephew then partner with him, prevailed upon Sir Joseph to divert his pursuits from study to business; and dying in 1574, bequeathed him a considerable property. In 1757 he served the office of Sheriff for the county of Surrey; and at the general election in 1761, was chosen Member of Parliament for the borough of Southwark. In March 1768 he was re-chosen; and during both Parliaments conducted himself with fidelity, diligence, and impartiality; attentive to the interests of his constituents, and receiving from them every mark of attachment and respect. On the change of Administration in 1765, he had the honour of being created a Baronet by letters patent dated on the 30th of July in that year.

His parliamentary conduct had received so complete an approbation from his constituents in the Borough, that it is probable he might have represented them for the remainder of his life without opposition: but having at this time a considerable estate in Surrey, he aspired to the honour of going to Parliament as Knight of the Shire for that county. He was accordingly a Candidate at the General Election in 1774; when being opposed by many gentlemen with the usual arts and the accustomed virulence exerted on these occasions, he was not at that time successful, though he polled 1390 votes; of which number near 1000 were single ones.

An opportunity, however, soon afterwards happened of proving the estimation he was held in by the freeholders of Surrey; for a vacancy happening in June 1775, by the death of Sir Francis Vincent, though opposed by the son of the deceased member and by William Norton, Esq. son of Sir Fletcher Norton, Speaker of the House of Commons, and notwithstanding the weight of ministerial interest exerted against him, he was elected by a considerable majority, the numbers on the poll being,

For Sir Joseph Mawbey 1385
Wm. Norton, Esq. 1285
Sir Francis Vincent 844

The same favour extended to him at the general election in September 1780; when he was rechosen, together with the late Viscount Keppel, then Admiral Keppel. On this occasion he exhibited a proof of his independence: for having canvassed part of the county for five days, he refused to violate his word with the freeholders, though strongly solicited by the friends of the Admiral, and of Mr. Onslow, the third candidate, to join interests with one or other of them; and though pressed, and even threatened, to induce him to unite with the former, he persisted in his resolution to rely on the independent part of the county, even though he should lose his election. His perseverance in this line of conduct was crowned with public approbation, the numbers on the close of the poll being,

For Sir Joseph Mawbey 2419
Admiral Keppel 2179
Thomas Onslow 1506

Since that time, on the dissolution of parliament in 1784, he was again elected Knight of the Shire for Surrey, together with William Norton, Esq., Sir Robert Clayton, who was also a candidate, declining the day before the poll.

Sir Joseph Mawbey's parliamentary conduct has been, even in the opinion of his opponents, active, disinterested, independent, and uniform. He set out a Whig from education, principle, and conviction, and consequently, a friend to civil and religious liberty, for which some of his family had sacrificed their lives. He is not however attached to names, or to any set of men, further than their actions entitle them to support. To enumerate a few instances of his parliamentary conduct: He was one of the sixty-three gentlemen of the House of Commons who, in 1762, divided against the preliminary articles of the peace, as inadequate to our successes in the course of the war. He opposed general warrants, the seizure of papers, the expulsion of Mr. Wilkes in 1763, and in 1768 the illegal proceedings respecting the seating of Colonel Luttrell in his place. He has uniformly voted for shortening the duration of parliaments. He opposed the Quebec bill, and all the measures which produced the late war and the loss of America. Believing that the civil list had been improperly applied, he opposed the addition to it of 100,000 a-year, as well as the payment contracted upon it.

He supported the act which passed a few years ago, for removing certain disabilities from protestant dissenters, and uniformly voted for every proposition in parliament for reducing the alarming influence of the crown, which in the opinion of many able persons, threatened the liberties of the country. "That such influence had increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished," on the popular side, and we are confident, from a compleat conviction of the propriety of it.

Sir Joseph Mawbey has cultivated from his youth to the present time a taste for reading, and has at times shewn himself attached to poetry. At an early age he wrote many verses, which he transmitted to the Gentleman's, the London, and other Magazines, where they are to be found, frequently under a borrowed signature. He is also the author of a ballad, printed at Mr. Wilkes's press in 1763, in folio, entitled The Battle of Epsom, occasioned by a meeting held for the purpose of an address on the peace, which address was prevented by the spirit and firmness of a majority of the freeholders.

In August 1760, he married his present Lady, Elizabeth, only surviving daughter of his first-cousin, Richard Pratt, Esq. of Vauxhall, in the county of Surrey, who, on the death of her brother Joseph Pratt, Esq. Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1766, became heir to his estate and fortune. By this lady Sir Joseph has had nine children, of whom four are still living.