DASHWOOD, Sir Sir Samuel (c.1643-1705), of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate, London
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Family and Education
b. c.1643, 1st s. of Francis Dashwood, Saddler and Turkey merchant, alderman of London 1658 by Alice, da. of Richard Sleigh of Derbys., and bro. of Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Bt.* m. lic 17 May 1670, aged 27, Anne (d. 1721), da. of John Smith of South Tidworth, Hants, and sis. of John Smith I*, 4s. (2 d.v.p.) 10da. (5 d.v.p.). suc. fa. 1683; kntd. 30 July 1684.1
Freeman, Vintners’ Co. 1663, master 1684–5; member, Levant Co. 1663, asst. 1680–91; asst. R. African Co. 1672–4, 1677–9, 1682–4, 1687–9, 1692–3, 1698–9, 1701–3, 1705–d.; sheriff, London 1683–4, alderman 1683–7, Oct. 1688–d., ld. Mayor 1702–3; dir. E.I. Co. 1684–6, 1690–5, 1698–1703, dep.-gov. 1700–2; pres. Bethlehem and Bridewell Hosps. 1704–d.2
Jt. farmer of excise 1677–83, commr. 1689–96; commr. preventing export of wool 1689–92, Greenwich Hosp. 1695, taking subscriptions to land bank 1696.3
Of Somerset stock, Dashwood’s father had established himself as a prosperous Turkey merchant in the capital. Although following him into the silk trade, Dashwood also chose to emulate his uncles William and George by diversifying into excise-farming. Moreover, unlike his father, who had fined for alderman in 1658, he actively sought civic advancement as a loyal supporter of the court. On the surrender of the London charter in October 1683, he was retained as sheriff by a special royal commission, and replaced the Whig magnate Sir Robert Clayton* as alderman for Cheap. Elected a Member for the City when the Tories carried the poll at the election of 1685, he further proved his loyalty by loaning the government £32,500 by September 1686. However, he became increasingly alarmed by the King’s policies and was ousted as alderman in August 1687 for failing to support the corporation’s address of thanks for the first Declaration of Indulgence. Reinstatement in the final days of the reign did not secure his allegiance, as he was appointed on 11 Dec. 1688 to the City’s committee to address the Prince of Orange. Within a year, having made ‘great interest and solicitation to great men’, he had become a commissioner of excise, his first government office following abortive appointments to the excise commission of December 1688. He was less successful when contesting the London by-election of May 1689, but managed to regain his seat by finishing second in the poll of 1690.4
At the outset of the new Parliament Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) cited him as a Tory who would probably support the Court, a view endorsed by Sir Peter Rich† when recommending Dashwood as one of ‘the persons proper to be consulted with of our side’ to raise a government loan. However, although a prominent civic Tory, Dashwood did not relish his parliamentary duties, complaining to his brother Francis in July of ‘the great trouble and charge I find therein, it having cost me many a pound’. Indeed, although boasting an annual income of £2,200, he wished that his membership of the House ‘may happen but seldom and not long continue’, a reluctance reflected in his failure to make a significant contribution to Commons’ business in the first two sessions of the 1690 Parliament. However, he was keen to promote the cause of his City allies, presenting to the Commons on 2 Dec. 1690 a petition signed by 124 common councilmen which detailed the abuses allegedly committed by the Whig-dominated corporation since the Act to restore the London charter. Later that month a besieged Carmarthen identified him as a likely ally, and in a separate assessment confirmed him as a supporter of the Court. By contrast, Robert Harley’s* list, compiled in around April 1691, noted him as doubtful.5
The ‘great bustle’ attending the contest for the mayoralty of London in October 1691 helped to dispel any lingering worries concerning Dashwood’s allegiance, for he stood for the Tories in a losing cause. In the ensuing session he was much more conspicuous, rising to address a variety of issues relating to his professional and personal interests, particularly the defence of the East India Company. On 23 Dec. he sought to convince the House that the company’s proposals for offering security for their own stock were ‘very good’, and a list of the company’s sureties six days later revealed that he was willing to stand for £15,000. His responsibilities regarding the excise prompted him on several occasions to intervene in debates concerning taxation, beginning on 21 Nov. with the presentation of two clauses for addition to an excise bill. On 16 Dec. he spoke without success in favour of a motion to render the inns of court liable for the land tax. Increasing concern for the excise yield brought him continuing prominence, and on 6 Jan. 1692 he introduced a bill to regulate the collection of duties on low wines and strong waters. Later that day he clashed with one of the commissioners of accounts, Paul Foley I, over the excise estimates, arguing that ‘I really do believe the excise this year will not amount to what it did last year’. Dashwood’s plea did not convince the committee of ways and means, and five days later he again failed to carry his point against Foley when arguing for a reduction in the expected yield of the excise due to collection charges. He was more successful when representing the City over its debts to the London orphans, featuring on 29 Jan. as one of the speakers who insisted that the corporation was ‘very willing’ to pay its debts. In the ensuing debate he proposed that ‘a further fund’ be raised from a duty on coals imported into the capital, a measure which aroused opposition but which was later carried.6
The fourth session saw an even greater prominence for Dashwood, as trade and taxation continued to concern the House. On 17 Nov. 1692 his East India interests prompted him to act strongly against a motion for a bill to establish a new company, rising ‘to demand right to be heard against the said bill before my right be precluded’. He was unable to prevent the introduction of the bill, and on 24 Nov. informed the Commons committee that although the East India Company’s general court was ready to submit to parliamentary regulation, ‘the private committees’ were opposed to any such move. He was equally stubborn in defence of the Levant Company when its future was threatened by a bill to allow the importation of fine silk transported overland. On 7 Dec. he opposed the committal of the bill on the grounds that it would ‘ruin your Turkey trade’ and have an adverse effect on the domestic manufacture of woollens and silk. He failed to prevent the committal, but on 11 Jan. 1693, after he had again expressed his reservations, the bill was defeated at the engrossment stage.7
Apart from trade, Dashwood maintained an active interest in London affairs, informing the House on 19 Dec. 1692 that the corporation wished to present a petition relating to a bill to extend the lease for supplying convex lights in the capital. Eleven days later he was one of the Members who attacked the measure openly, and had the satisfaction of seeing it fail. The preceding day, 29 Dec., he had spoken against a bill to regulate the packing and weighing of butter, an initiative which the London cheesemongers had condemned as the design of ‘particular interest’ of Suffolk farmers. Of more personal significance, on 10 Jan. 1693 he requested that his counsel be heard at the bar when a motion was made for the suspension of pensions during wartime.8
For the rest of the session Dashwood concentrated on mercantile matters. On 17 Feb. he opposed a bill to revive the Act banning the export of wool, and the next day self-interest prompted him to move a clause to allow the importation of Italian silks in foreign vessels. This proposal was rejected as contrary to the Navigation Acts, and he met with further disappointment on 25 Feb. when his speech failed to prevent the passage of a motion for an address to the King to dissolve the East India Company. The cause of the regulated companies was better served on 6 Mar. when Dashwood successfully opposed a clause permitting privateers to export goods, a measure deemed ‘absolutely destructive’ of the rights of the Levant and other companies. However, his concern to aid the war effort had been demonstrated several weeks earlier when he advanced £2,000 to the government in response to a direct appeal to the London corporation. In addition, later that year he was prepared to be bound for £10,000 to guarantee the export of large quantities of domestic produce to the East Indies. By way of reward, in October 1693 he was co-recipient of a royal grant of a seized cargo of illegally imported silks. His professional link to the court, of course, dominated assessments of his political allegiance, no less than five lists citing him as a placeman in the course of the 1690 Parliament.9
In the absence of Narcissus Luttrell’s* detailed accounts of debates, Dashwood’s activity over the final two sessions of the 1690 Parliament again appears of only limited importance. In the fifth session he appears among the drafters of a bill to encourage the clothing trade, and acted as a teller on 20 Mar. 1694 in order to block the addition of a clause to a bill levying duties on salt and other commodities. Moreover, although his City status was confirmed when he was appointed on 28 Mar. as one of the commissioners for the Million Act, the very next day his name was removed on the orders of the crown. There followed a concerted attempt on the part of several Whig ministers to oust him from the excise commission. Sir John Trenchard* reported to the King on 15 June that Dashwood and other City financiers were ‘very little serviceable in that employment’, but they did gain some support from Lord Godolphin (Sidney†) and Lord Shrewsbury, the latter observing that the government was well served by having such ‘eminent citizens’ on the commission. Even Sir John Somers* admitted that Dashwood’s aldermanic contacts were useful, and this City influence undoubtedly played a key role in securing his place in the new commission issued in August. In the ensuing session the Commons’ inquiry into the East India Company threatened to tarnish his reputation further, but the investigative committee reported on 12 Mar. 1695 that it had decided not to interview Dashwood and other Members who had been directors when serious irregularities within the Company had occurred. He was also listed as a ‘friend’ of Henry Guy, who was under attack in the Commons during this session. Remaining true to the sentiments he had expressed in July 1690, he retired from parliamentary politics at the end of the session, declining to seek re-election at the London contest of 1695.10
Destined never to sit in the House again, Dashwood remained prominent in trading and civic circles for the rest of his career. However, although confirmed as a leading financier in 1696 by his appointment as one of the commissioners to take subscriptions to the land bank, he was removed from the excise commission in May of that year. His dismissal may well have been politically motivated, but it did not form part of a major purge and may simply have reflected a reluctance on his part to serve, he having complained as early as July 1690 of the ‘care, trouble and charge’ which the office caused him. Significantly, when his name was touted as a potential farmer of the excise duties in February 1700, he was reported not to have ‘any great mind to it’. He continued to prove his value as a government creditor, listed by the Commons on 20 June 1698 as a member of the East India Company willing to advance £3,000 for himself and a further £2,000 on his brother Francis’ behalf. Political machinations were certainly instrumental in halting his civic advancement, for although he was the senior alderman below the chair, he was defeated by Whig candidates at the mayoral elections of 1698 and 1700. These setbacks did not mirror his fortunes within the Old East India Company, where, having been appointed in February 1699 as one of the commissioners to negotiate with the New Company, he was elected deputy-governor in April 1700. By July 1701 he and Sir Thomas Cooke* were regarded as ‘sole dictators’ of the Old East India Company, and two months later he confidently predicted that the two companies would merge.11
The mayoral elections of 1701 revealed that Dashwood had by no means lost his political zeal, ready as he was to combat the growing calls for war with France. On 25 Sept. he sought to delay an address from the London corporation which drew attention to the French threat, a filibuster which, according to James Vernon I*, was largely responsible for Dashwood’s poor performance in the mayoral election held three days later. Although touted as ‘altogether qualified and well-affected to the present government’, Dashwood finished bottom of the poll and was unable to prevent the return of Sir William Gore by the court of aldermen. The accession of Anne revived the spirits of the City Tories, however, and in July 1702 Dashwood gained a colonelcy in the London militia. Later that year the Whigs were reportedly ‘quite down in the mouth’ after he had achieved an overwhelming victory in the mayoral contest, the aldermen having given him their unanimous support. The City poet Elkanah Settle praised Sir Samuel’s ‘attracting merit’, and observed that the aldermanic vote had been ‘the work of minutes’, a great contrast to the manner in which they ‘had [for] so many years past so coldly neglected’ his qualities as a magistrate. The Queen herself signified her approval of Dashwood by attending the lavish celebrations which accompanied his inaugural feast, on the occasion of which she knighted his brother Francis.12
Having achieved the pinnacle of his civic career at the age of about 60, Dashwood might have anticipated leading the City Tories for several more years, but illness curtailed any ambitions. In January 1705 he was already reportedly ‘at the point of death’, and although there is some confusion surrounding the date, he probably died on 12 Aug. of that year. His commercial success had enabled him to buy properties in Buckinghamshire and Surrey, but he had continued to reside in the capital until his death and was buried at St. Botolph without Bishopsgate. He left an estate reportedly valued at £100,000, which was shared among his surviving two sons and five daughters. His eldest son, George Dashwood II*, employed some of his father’s fortune to become the Member for Stockbridge in 1710, but did not seek to emulate Sir Samuel’s success in civic politics. The social contacts which Dashwood had made in the course of his career were clearly testified by the marriages of his daughters to Andrew Archer*, Sir Thomas Saunders Sebright, 3rd Bt.†, and Richard Crawley*, the last of whom was appointed an executor of his estate.13
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Perry Gauci
- 1. Le Neve’s Knights (Harl. Soc. viii), 388; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 56–57; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 379; IGI, London.
- 2. Guildhall Lib. ms 15212/1, p. 16; K. G. Davies, R. African Co. 380; Add. 38871 (unfol.); E. G. O’Donoghue, Bridewell Hosp. 273.
- 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 532, 1250; Add. 10120, ff. 232–6.
- 4. Luttrell, Brief Relation, i. 283, 411; Cal. Treas. Bks. vii. 1523; viii. 2137, 2176–9, 2181; ix. 273; R. Beddard, Kingdom Without a King, 171; Bodl. D.D. Dashwood (Bucks.) mss A1/6, Dashwood to (Sir) Francis Dashwood, 5 July 1690.
- 5. Dorset RO, Fox-Strangways mss D124, box 235, Rich to Sir Stephen Fox*, 17 Mar. 1690; D.D. Dashwood (Bucks.) mss A1/6; Add. 70014, f. 371.
- 6. Portledge Pprs. 121; Luttrell Debates, 34, 84, 92, 96, 113, 121, 163–4.
- 7. Luttrell Debates, 234, 258, 299, 360.
- 8. Ibid. 328, 339–40.
- 9. Ibid. 429, 432, 449, 464; Bodl. Carte 79, f. 488; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 354, 1211.
- 10. Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 552, 556; CSP Dom. 1694–5, pp. 180, 186; H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pol. Wm. III, 134.
- 11. Cal. Treas. Bks. xi. 155; D.D. Dashwood (Bucks.) mss A1/6; Vernon– Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 452; Beaven, Aldermen, ii. p. xxvi; Luttrell, Brief Relation, iv. 432, 692; Flying Post, 21–23 Feb. 1699; London Post, 26–29 Apr. 1700; C 110/28, John Dolben* to Thomas Pitt I*, 19 July 1701; Add. 22851, f. 52.
- 12. Add. 40775, ff. 198, 220–1; Post Boy, 16–18 Sept. 1701; Yale Univ. Beinecke Lib. Osborn coll. Blathwayt mss, box 20, Robert Yard* to William Blathwayt*, 2 Oct. 1701; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 193; Herts. RO, Panshanger mss D/EP/F29, Lady Cowper’s commonplace bk. p. 281; Guildhall Lib. ms 15378; Boyer, Anne Annals, i. 126.
- 13. Folger Shakespeare Lib. Newdigate newsletter 30 Jan. 1705; PCC 239 Gee; Bodl. Rawl. D.734, f. 75; F. A. Crisp, Frag. Gen. n.s. i. 130.