JANSSEN, Stephen Theodore (d.1777), of St. Paul's Churchyard, London.
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Family and Education
Stationer 1745-65; master, Stationers’ Co. 1749-51; alderman of London 1748-65, sheriff 1749-50, ld. mayor 1754-5, chamberlain 1765-76; director, French Hospital 1769.
Janssen was a leading London merchant and the owner of the French enamel works at Battersea. In a memorandum to Newcastle of 10 Jan. 1756 he claimed to have
formed the plan for reducing the excise upon tea, and prosecuted it, till it was brought into the House by Sir John Barnard, where it passed into a law in 1745, by which reduction the revenue has benefited £1,970,180. He was principally instrumental in establishing that seasonable association in the City, for the taking bank notes in payment immediately after the fight of Preston Pans in 1745, by which public credit was revived from the lowest ebb, and for which he had the then chancellor of the Exchequer’s letter of thanks ... He was the means of bringing in the bill for prohibiting cambrics during the late war with France, which has preserved a great quantity of our wealth from going into that kingdom.1
When he was returned for London as an opposition Whig in 1747, Pelham observed: ‘I could have wished the merchants had chosen a better subject than Janssen, but forward fellows fare best in this world’.2 On 18 Dec. 1747 he supported a bill to prohibit insurance of French ships in war time, and in the debates of 25 Nov. 1751 on Alexander Murray he ‘defended the city’.3 Associated with Admiral Vernon in the foundation of the British Herring Fishery Company in 1750, of which he was vice-president,4 he used to send Newcastle unsolicited advice on commercial matters, including ‘several important papers regarding the trade of this nation’ which had come into his possession.5 During his mayoralty he incurred heavy debts, which he was unable to settle owing to business difficulties. On going bankrupt in January 1756, he applied for a place to Newcastle, as
a man who has never had any selfish views, but who has devoted twenty years of his life to the service of the King and his Government, at great expense and labour, and neglect of his private concerns.
And now, my Lord, indulge me to say that I have had twenty-five years experience in with close application to all commercial affairs, as well as to all branches of the revenue, so that, if at this most critical conjuncture, I should be thought qualified to serve the King and his Government, your Grace might rely upon my fulfilling my duty in every particular.6
He was given no job, but by living on ‘eighteen shillings a week’ he was able to repay all his debts. Elected chamberlain of London in 1765, he stood unsuccessfully for the Isle of Wight borough of Yarmouth in 1768. He resigned his post of chamberlain on account of his age 6 Feb. 1776, receiving the thanks of the livery ‘for his uniform zeal and activity in promoting, on every occasion, the true interest of this metropolis’ in the various capacities in which he had served it.7 He died a year later, 7 Apr. 1777.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
- 1. Manning & Bray, Surr. iii. 270; Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, ii. 177; Add. 32862, f. 71.
- 2. To Horace Walpole sen. 4 July 1747, Add. 9186, f. 105.
- 3. Walpole, i. 30, 212.
- 4. Add. 32721, f. 105; Gent. Mag. 1750, p. 474.
- 5. 24 May 1751, Add. 34724, f. 308.
- 6. Add. 32862, f. 69.
- 7. Nichols, Lit. Anecs. iii. 408-11.