MABERLY, John (d.c.1840), of Shirley House, Croydon, Surr.
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Family and Education
s. of Stephen Maberly of London, and Reading, Berks. by w. Mary Herbert. m. (1) 31 Mar. 1796, Mary Rose (d. ?14 Apr. 1810),1 da. of William Leader, coachmaker to the Prince of Wales, of Bedford Row, Holborn, Mdx. 2s. 2da.; (2) Anne Baillie, 2s. 3da. suc. fa. 1831.
Cornet, London and Westminster light horse vols. 1800, lt. 1803, capt. 1804, maj. 1814.
Maberly’s early life is obscure, but by 1794 he was in partnership with his father, a currier with premises at Parker Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. His marriage in 1796 to the daughter of the Prince of Wales’s coachmaker paid dividends, for on the death of his father-in-law two years later he inherited £35,000 in investments. On 30 Sept. 1808 fire destroyed the premises in Castle Street, Longacre, of ‘Mr Maberly, ordnance stores contractor’, who was reported to have lost £8,000 in the accident, but it is not clear whether the victim was Maberly himself, or his cousin John, who had earlier been in business at that address as a currier.
At about this time Maberly was certainly in business as an army contractor at Paul’s Wharf, Upper Thames Street, and he seems to have withdrawn from the Parker Street concern, which his father carried on in partnership with George Lee Cane. He wrote to the War Office in 1809 concerning the pattern of military greatcoats and in November 1810 he put before Sir John Willoughby Gordon a scheme for their cheap waterproofing. In 1813 Maberly pressed his scheme for ‘the better clothing the army and militias, at a very considerable saving to government’ on Lord Liverpool, threatening to publicize the defects of the existing system if no action were taken. When Liverpool promised official action, Maberly insisted on a thorough investigation by ‘the commissary in chief and storekeeper general’, claiming to be ‘particularly anxious that it should be taken up by the government, and not by persons who would feel a pleasure in exposing the present bad system, and condemning the government for not adopting a better’. The outcome was an elaborate report from the board of general officers in April.
Maberly extended his business interests in 1811 by purchasing the Broadford linen works in Aberdeen, where he also established a soap manufacturing business. In 1818 he opened the Exchange and Deposit Bank in Edinburgh and the following year brought a temporarily successful action against the Bank of Scotland in the court of session, to reduce the time within which a draft on a London bank could be cashed in Scotland from 40 to 20 days. The case was subsequently referred back to the court of session on appeal to the House of Lords.2
Maberly evidently paid £5,000 for the return of his friend and legal adviser, Evan Baillie, as locum for himself, for Tralee in July 1807, but he did not exercise his option to take over the seat. It is not clear whether his own election for Rye in 1816 was arranged privately with the patron, Thomas Phillipps Lamb*, or through the Treasury, but he could not have obtained the seat without giving satisfactory assurances of his intention of supporting government. He did so in all but one of the 12 divisions between his return and the dissolution of 1818 for which lists of ministerial voters have been found. His only recorded wayward vote was for Tierney’s motion on Bank restriction, 1 May 1818. In his maiden speech, 20 Apr. 1818, he defended Vansittart’s plan to raise a loan from the 3½ per cent stock. He voted against Catholic relief, 21 May 1816.
Maberly’s relations with government turned sour, possibly because he was refused a renewal of his tenure at Rye. He was cultivating an interest at Abingdon by 1 Jan. 1818, but at the dissolution he made a bid to hold on to Rye, by threatening to canvass in opposition to Lamb, who thought Maberly was ambitious for a peerage. Stephen Rumbold Lushington, secretary to the Treasury, observed:
Maberly’s recent journey to Rye was in defiance of all that I could say to him. I earnestly hope that he may be for ever separated from that borough; for I think his conduct wholly unjustifiable, towards the patron, myself and the government.
In the event he was returned unopposed for Abingdon.3
He was on the ministerial side in the division on the complaint against Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar. 1819, but all his other recorded votes in the 1818 Parliament were in opposition to government. He confirmed his shift of allegiance by voting for Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819, arguing that government’s financial bungling warranted investigation. He supported inquiry into Scottish burgh reform, 1 Apr. and 6 May 1819, and voted steadily against the government’s repressive legislation at the end of the year. Supporting Tierney’s motion for inquiry into Bank restriction, 2 Feb. 1819, he pointed to the unfunded debt as the chief obstacle to the resumption of cash payments, which he considered essential, and argued for a wholesale revision of the fiscal system, in particular for a genuine property tax to replace the assessed taxes, in order to balance income and expenditure and at the same time alleviate the burdens of the poor. He repeatedly attacked ministerial monetary policy, but his speech of 8 Mar. 1819, which prophesied bankruptcy in the event of war with France, was alleged by Edward John Littleton to have been made in collusion with his fellow speculator Rothschild, in order to depress the funds for their mutual benefit.4
Maberly’s banking concerns expanded to Dundee, Glasgow, Montrose and London, and his linen works, into which he introduced steam power on a large scale in 1824, continued to flourish. Nevertheless, his transactions on the Stock Exchange and some dubious foreign loans eventually enmeshed him in financial difficulties. He was forced to sell the Broadford works and his bank stopped payment in January 1832. His fall excited some malicious comment, typical of which was the reflection of Edward Ellice*:
Maberly’s fall was no surprise upon me. I could have told you two years ago, that he was living from week to week, upon the chance of such speculations as his shattered credit enabled him to make upon the exchanges of London and Paris. He falls without pity, or regret. He was a vain, proud, and overbearing money dealer, hard headed and hard hearted, and such people fare ill with society, when fortune plays them a trick.
Lord Teignmouth wrote of him:
He was in his way a thorough Buonaparte. His grasp of mind was as comprehensive as his attention to details was minute ... he was said to be the only man in England who could sleep over a million of omnium ... Like some other self-made men, he was pre-eminently self-confident ... Our civic hero became like Buonaparte the sport as well as the child of fortune; but in one respect he rose superior to his prototype by the equanimity with which he endured unavoidable expatriation.5
Maberly went abroad and in 1834 was reported to be earning a living as a correspondent of the Morning Chronicle in Madrid. The date of his death has not been ascertained, but a marginal note on the registered copy will of Evan Foulkes suggests that it had occurred by 25 Feb. 1840.6
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: David R. Fisher
Based on information in J. M. Bulloch, Father of Maberly Street (1930).
- 1. Gent. Mag. (1810), i. 495.
- 2. William Leader’s will (PCC 417 Walpole); Gent. Mag. (1808), ii 940; Add. 38251, ff. 208, 248, 260; Dundee Textile Industry (Scottish Hist. Soc. ser. 4, vi), 76-77; Colchester, iii. 426.
- 3. J. Townsend, News of a Country Town, 146; Add. 34858, ff. 241, 242.
- 4. Staffs. RO, Hatherton diary, 14 Mar. 1819.
- 5. The Times, 28 Jan., 11, 13 Feb. 1832; Add. 28673, f. 19; Brougham mss 34269; Teignmouth, Reminiscences, i. 219-20.
- 6. Raikes Jnl. i. 281; PCC 572 St. Albans.