GULSTON, Joseph (c.1694-1766), of Ealing Grove, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1694 at Lisbon, 1st s. of Joseph Gulston, merchant. m. c.1733, Maricas Sylva, da. of a Portuguese merchant, 2s. 2da.
Director, South Sea Co. 1742-60.
Gulston’s father ‘never was in England’; he himself was head of a mercantile house at Lisbon, presumably inherited from his father.1 The family moved to England some time before 1730, and Joseph Gulston carried on business as a City merchant.
With Poole, where Gulston established an enduring parliamentary interest, he was probably connected through his extensive trade with both North and South America. In Parliament he regularly adhered to the Government, from whom he held contracts during the war of the Austrian succession, and when war re-started in 1755 Gulston felt indignant at not being immediately re-employed as a money remitter. He wrote to James West, 6 Nov. 1755, that some time ago he had spoken about it to the Duke of Newcastle, who seemed surprised at his early application; but next Gulston ‘found others employed therein’; ‘I am turned out of my post (if I may so call it) without having done anything to deserve it ... I have a sort of right to be employed again and indeed upon an equal footing with any body else the most favoured, which I expect, perhaps more out of a point of honour than profit.’ The Duke had directed him to West, and he now asked for ‘an explicit answer from the Duke, for if it be in the negative, I shall not trouble his Grace any more, which next to granting my request is the greatest favour he can do me’.2
In his elections at Poole, a difficult constituency, he had Government support, which was important both because of a group of placemen who could turn the balance between competing candidates, and also because of the favours which a mercantile community with extensive trading interests had to solicit from the Government. There are hints in letters from Sir Peter Thompson, a leading Poole merchant, to James West3 that Gulston was thought to have been remiss in watching over the borough’s interests in Parliament, and that he gradually lost popularity. And although he would sometimes excuse his absence from the borough by the need of attending Parliament, that attendance too seems to have fallen off towards the end. Newcastle, in his list of 13 Nov. 1762, classed Gulston as ‘pro’; but early in December Fox included him in that of Members in favour of the peace preliminaries; and only in Newcastle’s division lists for 9 and 10 Dec. does he appear as voting with the minority, but in none of the others. In the autumn of 1763 Jenkinson listed Gulston as a Government supporter; he was absent from the division of 6 Feb. 1764 on general warrants; ‘Mr. Gulston is infirm, but perhaps may come down, and take somebody off’, wrote Edward Kynaston to Jenkinson, 16 Feb. 1764;4 but he was again absent on 17-18 Feb.; and 10 May was classed by Newcastle as ‘doubtful’. There is no record of his having spoken in the House. On 4 May Thompson reported to West a letter from Gulston to the Poole corporation ‘that through frequent fits of the gout he was unable to attend his duty in Parliament, therefore he hoped his friends would give him leave to resign in favour of his son’. A severely contested election ensued during which Gulston greatly exerted himself on behalf of his son—Thompson wrote to West on 25 May: ‘Mr. Gulston has returned from London, he was gone from hence but 56 hours, very extraordinary for one of 75.’ The election was won by the narrowest margin.
Gulston was indeed a sick man, and died on 16 Aug. 1766. According to his daughter, ‘he left in the funds £250,000 ...; an estate in Hertfordshire of £1500 a year; Ealing-grove, and the house in Soho-square’.