KIBBLEWHITE, James (1770-1845), of 2 Gray's Inn Place, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. 10 June 1770, 1st s. of William Kibblewhite of The Close, Lydiard Millicent, nr. Wootton Bassett, Wilts., by w. Eleanor née Barrett of Lydiard Millicent. adm. G. Inn 28 Feb. 1811, aged 39. m. Elizabeth (d. 31 July 1826), s.p. suc. fa. 1825.
Vol. London and Westminster light horse 1803-24.
Dep. chairman, Clerical, Medical and General Life Assurance Soc. 1824-35, chairman 1835-d.
Kibblewhite’s story is that of the village boy who ‘made good’.1 His family lived in modest circumstances at Lydiard Millicent, having previously been settled at Purton. He later provided them with a coat of arms, pretending descent from the Kibblewhites of Fawley, Berkshire, when his nephew George Stone applied for admission to St. John’s, Oxford as founder’s kin.2 This claim was not accepted, and although Kibblewhite constructed a vault for his family in Lydiard church and intended to have it embellished with memorials, none was executed.
Kibblewhite served his apprenticeship as a solicitor’s clerk in Swindon: he later mercilessly lampooned his employer Bradford. He subsequently moved to London, was articled to John Meakings in the Strand and in 1797, being admitted attorney, set up in business at Gray’s Inn, practising in King’s bench and common pleas. He was involved in an acrimonious dispute with Lord Hardwicke, 1797-8, as a collector of manorial quit-rents.3 By 1809, he was in partnership with Daniel Rowland and from 1812 also with Stratford Robinson at the same address. Thereafter he was not an active partner—he tried unsuccessfully to be called to the bar, but his application was at length rejected in 1817—though he introduced George Stone into the business. His brother Edmund was an attorney at Wootton Bassett and helped him build up a borough interest there.
In 1807, to quote Oldfield: ‘Mr Kibblewhite opposed the united interest of the Lords [Clarendon and Bolingbroke] and procured the return of two Members’. This triumph for ‘independence’ was secured by the erection of 108 houses on property adjoining his own which he had purchased for £4,000 from the Earl of Shaftesbury and possibly from Bolingbroke; by ousting five of the corporation in favour of his brother and friends; and by bribery.4 In 1808, on a vacancy, he retained the nomination to the seat, selling it to Benjamin Walsh. On 10 Mar. 1811 he wrote to Perceval asking for the credentials of a merchant Jephson Oddy, who wished to be introduced at Wootton Bassett: he explained that he would not form a connexion with any gentleman ‘whose sentiments were not in unison with his own on all great political subjects’, and who was not ‘considered as a steady well-wisher to ... present government’. He also asked to be appointed solicitor to a parliamentary commission. Perceval disclaimed any knowledge of Oddy and was unable to appoint Kibblewhite.5 Soon afterwards he lost one seat to Robert Knight, but retained the other when his nominee Walsh was expelled the House, returning John Attersoll. Attersoll and Kibblewhite himself, perhaps faute de mieux, were returned at the general election of 1812; but both vacated in the spring of 1813, when Kibblewhite sold his interest to Joseph Pitt for £22,000. He was listed a Treasury supporter, but his only political gesture had been a vote for Catholic relief, 2 Mar. 1813.
Kibblewhite did not try to re-enter Parliament and his later years were devoted to the affairs of the life assurance company of which he was a founder-director and later chairman. He retired first to 9 Langham Place, then to West End, Hampstead, where he died of apoplexy 3 Nov. 1845, aged 75, a widower without children, worth £60,000.6