GILDART, Richard (1671-1770), of Bevington Hill, Liverpool.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1734 - 1754

Family and Education

b. 1671, s. of James Gildart of Middleham, Yorks. m. (contr. 12 Nov. 1707) Anne, da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Johnson, 13 ch.

Offices Held

Mayor, Liverpool 1714, 1731, 1736.


Gildart was partner to his father-in-law, Sir Thomas Johnson, in the shipping, tobacco and rock salt business. By 1717 they were both deeply in debt to the Crown in respect of unpaid duty on tobacco. After Johnson left Liverpool in 1723 Gildart acted as his agent, taking over payments of the interest on his debts. In August 1723 the commissioners of the customs reported that Gildart

has hitherto made due payment of Sir Thos. Johnson’s bonds due to the Crown. But on 6 Sept. next another payment is due ... We have called on Mr. Gildart, but he hath not given another security in the room of Mr. Thos. Ball [Johnson’s brother-in-law] lately deceased. Neither has Gildart complied with the condition of his bond to pay £1,000 at last midsummer but says he hath met with disappointment and will certainly pay it at Michaelmas next.

During the following months the collector of the customs at Liverpool reported that Gildart had not paid ‘£300 due on account of Johnson’s hands on 6 September, nor on his own for £1,000’.1

In 1734 Gildart stood for Liverpool, jointly with Thomas Brereton, against Thomas Bootle, who described him as ‘a merchant in the town, he is deeply engaged in custom-house bonds to the Crown and who must be in the same measures as [Brereton] and they too are making interest together upon the ministerial foot.’2 Returned, he supported the Administration, figuring in a list of placemen who voted for the Spanish convention in 1739 with the comment: ‘his eldest son receiver general of the land tax for the county of Lancaster, and two of his other sons provided for’.3 In 1737 he tried to promote a bill for permission to erect a salt refinery in Liverpool, explaining that it would mean ‘the saving of a penny per bushel’, but failed owing to opposition from the salt department.4 In 1740, after repeated appeals to the Treasury for relief from his obligations as security to Johnson, a warrant was issued waiving ‘£381 12s.d., being the remainder of a debt of £4,503 15s.d. due to the Crown from Sir Thomas Johnson for tobacco duties and for whom Gildart was surety.’5 He was returned without opposition in 1741 and 1747. The 2nd Lord Egmont sums him up in his electoral survey (c.1750) as

a very little fellow ... I believe a merchant and attached to the Minister rather than Pelham, and his dealings in trade will keep him always under the lash of the Customs.

By this time he had become one of the leading Liverpool slave traders, sending ships to the Gold Coast to barter tobacco for slaves for the West Indies.

Gildart retired from Parliament in 1754. He obtained a grant of arms from the College of Arms in 1759. His portrait was painted by Joseph Wright of Derby in 1766.6 He died 25 Jan. 1770, aged 99.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, lxxxii. 221-3; xc. 186-7.
  • 2. HMC 15th Rep. VII, 121.
  • 3. Gent. Mag. 1739, p. 305.
  • 4. E. Hughes, Studies in Admin. and Finance, 397; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1735-8, pp. 311-12, 365, 367.
  • 5. Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, xc. 189.
  • 6. Gomer Williams, Liverpool Privateers, 674; Bd. Trade Jnl. 1750-53, p. 19; Trans. Hist. Soc. Lancs. and Cheshire, lxxxii. 221, 223.