MUILMAN TRENCH CHISWELL, Richard (c.1735-97), of Debden Hall, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1790 - 3 Feb. 1797

Family and Education

b. c.1735, o.s. of Peter Muilman, Dutch merchant, of London, and Kirby Hall, Essex by Mary, da. of Richard Chiswell, Turkey merchant, of Debden Hall. m. 1756, Mary, da. of Dr James Jurin of Shoreditch, Mdx., 1da. suc. mat. uncle Richard Chiswell to Debden and took additional names of Trench Chiswell by royal lic. 28 Nov. 1772; fa. 1790.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Essex 1776-7.


Chiswell’s father, one of two Dutch immigrant brothers, and he in his turn were associated with the Amsterdam banking house of Muilman; in partnership with the Hamburg merchant John Berens (d.1787) they ‘could regulate the Dutch exchange’ and were believed to receive £10,000 p.a. commission for the Dutch dividends. Apart from this, Muilman had married well, had succeeded an uncle to an Essex estate and personalty of some £120,000 and was heir, on his father’s death, to estates estimated at £350,000. This was in 1790, the year he entered Parliament, and he was then said to be ‘worth near a million sterling’. He was subsequently described as ‘the great commercial friend of Mr Rose’ [i.e. George Rose*].1

As Richard Muilman he had unsuccessfully contested Haslemere in 1761. He owed his seat to Henry, 2nd Duke of Newcastle, who returned supporters of Pitt’s administration. On 22 Mar. 1791 he gave notice of an amendment to the Bank dividend bill. This excited Fox the opposition leader, who saw ‘a chance of getting him even beyond this question’. On 25 Mar. he proposed a clause whereby an open book was to be kept at the Bank for six months to enable public creditors to express their dissent from the bill, since ministers would not give it up. The motion was rejected by 136 votes to 45. An investor in East India Company stock, he was an investment agent for Mrs Warren Hastings and on 5 Apr. 1792 seconded the motion for an expose of the cost of her husband’s trial. On 11 Feb. 1793 he seconded the motion to expedite the proceedings against Hastings and was placed on the committee to effect it. He was also a member of the committee on commercial credit and from its report (30 Apr. 1793) appeared as a witness to the stagnation of credit. He welcomed the issue of Exchequer bills by way of relief, 1 May 1793, and was appointed a commissioner. On 30 Apr. 1794 he seconded Thornton’s motion for a bill to enable government contractors to sit in Parliament, claiming that government would benefit from the more advantageous tenders to be made by persons at present disqualified by Membership; on 2 May, however, he moved the postponement of the bill, which he had helped to prepare. In May 1795 he was entrusted with Warren Hastings’s petition to the King.2 He voted against the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796, and had been listed hostile to the repeal of the Test Act in Scotland five years before.

In 1796 Chiswell purchased his seat from the 4th Duke of Newcastle’s trustees. He and his partner Nantes subscribed £30,000 to the loyalty loan for 1797. They were ill-equipped to do so, for they were on the verge of bankruptcy. ‘An adventure in East Indian scrip, about seven years ago, proved a very losing account; and upon our getting foot in St. Domingo, a most amazing quantity of goods was exported thither.’ This was accompanied by ‘a chain of unsuccessful speculations on West India estates’, which Chiswell referred to in a suicide note before he shot himself, 3 Feb. 1797. The coroner’s inquest found that his mind was unhinged. His partner disappeared and the firm went bankrupt.3

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Winifred Stokes / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1797), i. 250; Morning Chron. 11 Feb. 1797.
  • 2. Blair Adam mss, Fox to Adam, Wed. [23 Mar. 1791]; Burke Corresp. viii. 241; ix. 235; Woodfall, iii. 415.
  • 3. Annual Reg. (1797), 12; Morning Chron. 18 Feb.; The Times, 18, 21 Feb. 1797; Burke Corresp. ix. 235.