MELLISH, William (c.1710-91), of Blyth, Notts.
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Family and Education
b. c.1710, 2nd s. of Joseph Mellish of Doncaster and Blyth by Dorothy, da. of Sir William Gore, ld. mayor of London. educ. Eton 1725; Peterhouse Camb. 1726; L. Inn 1725; I. Temple 1734. m. (1) 27 Feb. 1735, Catherine (d. 19 Mar. 1747), da. of Joseph da Costa, wid. of Joseph da Costa Villareal of Edwinstowe, Notts., 2s., (2) 22 July 1762, Anne, da. of John Gore of Bush Hill, Mdx., s. of above mentioned Sir W. Gore, 5s. 1da. suc. to Blyth on d. of e. bro. 1757.
Ld. treasurer’s remembrancer in the Exchequer 1733-54; commr. of excise 1751-60; receiver gen. of customs 1760-Jan. 1763, 1765-86, jt. sec. to the Treasury July 1765.
In 1635 John Mellish, merchant tailor of London, bought the estate of Blyth in Nottinghamshire for £3,900.1 His son, a wealthy Oporto merchant, dying unmarried, left Blyth in 1703 to a cousin, Joseph Mellish, who became one of Newcastle’s earliest and most important political supporters in the county. Joseph Mellish died in 1733, leaving three sons, of whom the eldest, Edward, inherited Blyth, and the youngest, Joseph, was M.P. for Grimsby from 1761 to 1774.
The second son, William, was intended for the bar. When his father died he was a fellow of Peterhouse and had been provided by Newcastle with the small sinecure of lord treasurer’s remembrancer in the Exchequer.2 A few months later he refers to his ‘having received so many obligations from your Grace’ as his ‘only excuse’ for asking Newcastle to recommend him to Walpole for another Exchequer sinecure, that of clerk of the estreats, ‘worth rather better than £100 per annum’, which he did not obtain because Walpole was keeping it for his son Horace.3
In 1735 Mellish married the widow of a wealthy Portuguese Jew, who had probably become acquainted with his family through the Portuguese business.4 In 1741 he stood for East Retford without Newcastle’s support or approval,5 spending his wife’s money like water, paying first £50, then £100, and finally £150 a vote.6 When Parliament met he voted with the Opposition in return for a promise that if he did so a petition which had been brought against his return should be dropped.7 He was not invited to the Cockpit meeting of ministerial supporters in the Commons before the opening of the next session. In December 1742 he voted for the Hanoverians, but in January 1744 he spoke and voted against them, though opposing any inquiry into their conduct. During the rebellion of 1745 he informed the House that the city of London ‘were most heartily for’ bringing over ‘Hessians and Hanoverians too, as necessary to our security’.8 He voted for the Hanoverians in 1746, when he was classed as ‘Old Whig’.
Returned unopposed for Retford in 1747, this time with Newcastle’s support, Mellish is described in the 2nd Lord Egmont’s electoral survey, c. 1749-50, as
a low thorough paced creature of Pelham connected with Gore [John], the remittancer. A great dealer in subscriptions, of which he has had more benefit from this ministry than almost anybody not directly employed in the money affairs. He is not at all inclined to us.
In an appended list of ‘the most obnoxious men of an inferior degree’, he is put by Egmont among the 12 ‘worst cast for us in the whole House’.
In 1751 Mellish gave up his seat for a commissionership of excise, with a salary of £1,000 per annum, co-operating in the return of one of Newcastle’s nephews for the vacancy at this and subsequent elections. In 1760 Newcastle gave him the post of receiver general of customs, with a salary of £1,500 per annum, which he held till the beginning of 1763, when he was turned out in the proscription of Newcastle’s friends. Under the Rockingham Administration in 1765 he was compensated with the appointment of joint secretary to the Treasury but returned to his old place when it fell vacant a few weeks later, preferring it ‘to all the emoluments he could propose from Treasury favour’.9
He died 16 Dec. 1791.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. J. Raine, Hist. Blyth, 79-88.
- 2. Cal. Treas. Bks. and Pprs. 1731-4, p. 235.
- 3. Mellish to Newcastle, 2 Nov. 1733, Add 32689, f. 46; Horace Walpole’s ‘Short Notes’ of his life, Corresp. (Yale ed.), xiii. 8.
- 4. M. J. Landa, ‘Kitty Villareal, the Da Costas and Samson Gideon’ (Jewish Hist. Soc. of England, xiii) 271-91.
- 5. Mellish to Newcastle, 22 Nov. 1741, and Newcastle’s draft reply, Add 32695, ff. 423, 425; Newcastle’s instructions to his agent at Retford, 5 Mar. 1741, Add. 32696, f. 194.
- 6. John Bristow to Newcastle, 13 Apr. 1741, and J. White to Newcastle, 15 and 22 Apr. and 9 May 1741, Add. 32696, ff. 307, 322, 345, 494.
- 7. Coxe, Walpole, iii. 583; Hartington to Devonshire, 22 Dec. 1741, Devonshire mss.
- 8. Edward Mellish to Newcastle, 27 Apr. 1747, Add. 32710, f. 469; Yorke’s parl. jnl. Parl. Hist. xiii. 472.
- 9. Newcastle to White, 3 Dec. 1765, Add. 33003, f. 32.