FLUDYER, Samuel (?1704-68), of Lee, Kent
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Family and Education
b. ?1704, 1st s. of Samuel Fludyer, London clothier (originally of Frome, Som.), by Elizabeth, da. of Francis de Monsallier, a Huguenot. educ. Westminster. m. (1) Jane Clerke (d. 15 Mar. 1757), of Westminster, 1da.1 (2) 2 Sept. 1758, Caroline, da. of Hon. James Brudenell, M.P., sis. of George Bridges Brudenell, and niece of George, 3rd Earl of Cardigan,2 2s. Kntd. 19 Sept. 1755; cr. Bt. 14 Nov. 1759.
Common councillor, London 1734-51, alderman 1751, sheriff 1754-5, ld. mayor 1761-2.
Director, Bank of England 1753-5, 1756-8, 1759-1762, 1763-6; dep. gov. 1766- d.
Fludyer was born a Dissenter, but, according to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale, his second marriage and his baronetcy led him away from his Church.3 He joined his father’s business which he greatly developed; became one of the foremost cloth merchants; and from 1738 till his death appears in the London directories in partnership with his brother Thomas as warehouseman, of Basinghall Street. In a list of merchant M.P.s compiled about 1754, in the Lowther mss, he is described as a ‘great dealer in North and West country cloths’. This helped him to establish a parliamentary interest at Chippenham where in 1754, at a cost of £1,500,4 he was returned unopposed. In Newcastle’s lists of 1754 he is classed as Government supporter; though over the Mitchell election petition, which was not strictly a party matter, he voted on the Fox-Sandwich side.5 In the first part of his career he was, however, neither a Government contractor nor a large subscriber to Government loans.
At the general election of 1761 Fludyer stood for the City of London as one of the four who had a majority on a show of hands at the meeting of the livery at Guildhall on 4 Mar.; and he signed a joint address with Thomas Harley, William Beckford, and Richard Glyn;6 but was defeated on the poll, 26 Mar.-2 Apr. He complained to Lord Kinnoull on 30 Mar. that there were letters from the Ordnance and the Board of Works in Beckford’s favour only, who ‘will certainly carry it if he gets this interest’. And Kinnoull, forwarding the letter, wrote to Newcastle:
The Whigs seem to be cutting one another’s throats. The Dissenters divided. Dr. Chandler [a leading nonconformist minister] polled against Fludyer as he tells me ... The Ordnance and the Board of Works single Beckford. That is surprising. It is not unreasonable to ask that they should be for Fludyer not exclusive of Beckford; surely that cannot give offence anywhere [i.e. to Pitt].7
And here is the account of the election sent to Newcastle by one of his City agents, Joseph Watkins:8
If I am rightly informed Sir Samuel was greatly to blame for, by acting secretly against Mr. Harley, he flung the whole weight of the merchant interest on a person whom they were determined to fling out, and whose corporation interest was nothing without the merchants’ support, a mortifying circumstance to him but he acknowledged the fact.
Fludyer was re-elected at Chippenham; in Bute’s parliamentary list of December 1761 was marked as a supporter of Newcastle, who still classed him as such in his list of 13 Nov. 1762. But the bidding had already started—Lord Harcourt wrote to Charles Jenkinson on 5 Nov.:9
We find that great pains have been taken to bring Sir Samuel to a right way of thinking, every kind of civility and complaisance has been exerted by a great man whose Lady is related to Lady Fludyer [Henry Fox]. I fancy it will have its effect. Notwithstanding which I hope your Lord [Bute] will have an opportunity of explaining matters to him which will set everything right.
Fludyer appears in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries with a query against his name. But presumably he voted with the majority, for in a paper drawn up after 10 Dec. Fox writes: ‘Sir Samuel Fludyer has my promise ... of some share in contracts and remittances that remain in peace.’10
Fluyder appears as subscriber of £19,000 to Bute’s loan of £1,100,000 in 1762;11 and again as subscriber to the 3½ million loan of March 1763, on which a profit of about 10 per cent was netted; but he was not among the biggest subscribers enumerated in the North Briton, No. 42, and to Fox’s appeal for an increased allocation for Fludyer, Bute replied, 2 Mar.:12
Sir Samuel Fludyer stood with me on the same footing that every other person does, whose subscription I promised to receive; the few excepted, who were immediately to take upon themselves the chance of carrying my plan into execution, and of them none have half what they desired ... I have no private list (as they call it); every man is welcome to see it, and to see that justice, not favour, has made the arrangement.
Also under the Grenville Administration Fludyer was one of the leading Government financiers.13 But his subscriptions were for a quick turn-over only: £10,000 in annuities, held from April 1766 till his death, is the most substantial holding of Fludyer’s in the Bank of England records.
For victualling contracts he had to wait till the existing ones expired. He and Adam Drummond signed one for the troops in West Florida, but gave it up in order to replace George Colebrooke and Arnold Nesbitt, merchant Members who adhered to Newcastle, in much bigger contracts for America and Quebec. These were not signed till April 1764.14 Fludyer also obtained in February 1764 a contract for remittances to several West Indian islands;15 and together with Anthony Bacon, the Fludyer-Drummond partnership applied in 1764 ‘for the lease of all coals on the island of Cape Breton’—Bacon, a big and experienced coal operator being obviously the future manager, while Fludyer was cashing in on his political influence and connexions.16
In the autumn of 1763 Fludyer was classed by Jenkinson as a Government supporter, but in the crucial division on general warrants, 18 Feb. 1764, appears in the list of ‘absent friends’. In Newcastle’s lists preparatory to the formation of the Rockingham Government, Fludyer is among the contractors to be removed; but in Rockingham’s parliamentary lists of July he is once classed as ‘pro’ and another time as ‘query’; he did not vote against the repeal of the Stamp Act. Nevertheless notice to terminate his American contracts was given to him on 11 July 1766 by a moribund Treasury.17 Next Fludyer adhered to the Chatham Administration; was classed as such by Rockingham, Newcastle and Townshend; voted with Government on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, the last division in his lifetime for which lists are extant; and received a new victualling contract in March.18 No speech by Fludyer is recorded during his 14 years in the House.
The following account appears in a biographical sketch of Fludyer published in 1800.19 ‘An unfortunate moment of avarice ... clouded his reputation, and is supposed to have shortened his life.’ He was assignee of a bankrupt, and when the business was heard before Lord Camden, the discovery was made of a contraband trade which Fludyer ‘had carried on in scarlet cloth, to the detriment of the East India Company. The lord chancellor reprehended his conduct in the most severe terms, and decreed against him. Sir Samuel, who was present in court, sunk as it were beneath the chastisement, and did not long survive it.’
Fludyer died 18 Jan. 1768, ‘reputed worth £900,000’.20
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Sir Lewis Namier
- 1. Add. 32921, ff. 184, 190.
- 2. Leinster Corresp. i. 413.
- 3. Stiles to Dr. Alison, 5 Sept. 1766, Stiles mss at Yale.
- 4. Namier, Structure, 200 n. 3; Add. 32995, f. 114.
- 5. E. Boscawen to Newcastle, 12 Mar. 1755, Add. 32853, f. 260.
- 6. British Chron. 2-4 Mar. 1761; Gent. Mag. 1761, p. 137; Beaven, Aldermen of London, i. 280.
- 7. Add. 32921, ff. 190, 184.
- 8. Add. 32922, f. 187.
- 9. Jucker, Jenkinson Pprs. 81.
- 10. Add. 40758, f. 279.
- 11. Bute mss.
- 12. Ilchester, Letters to Hen. Fox, 172.
- 13. Jucker, 351-2.
- 14. T54/39/273-6; Namier, Structure, 51; Jucker, 239-40.
- 15. T29/35/301.
- 16. Add. 38337, f. 284; 38338, ff. 24-27.
- 17. Fortescue. i. 128; T29/38/75.
- 18. T54/40/304-6.
- 19. City Biog. 23.
- 20. Gent. Mag, 1768, p. 47.