METCALFE, Philip (1733-1818), of Hawstead, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1784 - 1790
1790 - 1796
22 Nov. 1796 - 1802
1802 - 1806

Family and Education

b. 29 Aug. 1733, 2nd s. of Roger Metcalfe, M.D., of London by Jemima, da of Sir Philip Astley, 2nd Bt., of Melton Constable, Norf. unm.

Offices Held


According to Joseph Farington,1writing 6 Feb. 1804, Metcalfe

was apprentice to a person usually called Robin Jones [Robert Jones], of Vigo Lane, a wine and Spanish merchant. Metcalfe went to Malaga. It was the desire of Jones that Metcalfe should marry his daughter but she chose to marry Mr. [James Whorwood] afterwards General Adeane [q.v.] ... Metcalfe afterwards formed a connection and became partner in a distillery at West Ham, which has proved very lucrative to him.

But six years later, 20 June 1810, Farington wrote:2

Lord Lonsdale told me that when Mr. Metcalfe was a young man he was placed in a commercial house; but having paid his addresses to a daughter of the family, he was obliged to quit his situation. He then went abroad to various parts, and returned to England wholly without employment. He accidentally met an old acquaintance who enquired how he was situated, and on being informed that he had everything to seek, made him an offer to take him into a house of distillery which belonged to himself. Metcalfe accepted the offer, and in time became a partner and eventually the head of the house in which he has made a large fortune.

From the London directories it appears that the firm was Bisson and Son, distillers, of West Ham. By 1774 it was known as ‘Bissons Metcalfe, malt distillers, Three Mills, West Ham’, and by 1783 had become ‘Metcalfe and Bowman’, later becoming ‘Philip Metcalfe Co.’

Before the general election of 1784 Metcalfe appears in Robinson’s list of ‘Persons that will pay £2,000 or perhaps £3,000’ for a seat in Parliament.3 He was returned for Horsham which had been put at the disposal of Administration by Lady Irwin. Metcalfe supported Pitt, voting with him on Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786, and the Regency, 1788-9. There is no record of his having spoken in the House during this Parliament.

Metcalfe was an intimate friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and was well known in literary circles. Boswell noted4that Johnson ‘met Mr. Philip Metcalfe often at Sir Joshua Reynolds, and other places’, and was a good deal with him at Brighton in the autumn of 1782, ‘... being pleased at once with his excellent table and animated conversation’. ‘[He] has very good qualities’ wrote Farington,5 ‘but his habitual petulance and overbearing have been universally remarked.’ Fanny Burney found him ‘very clever and entertaining when he pleases’.6

He died 10 Aug. 1818.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Mary M. Drummond


  • 1. Diary, ii. 188.
  • 2. Ibid. vi. 71-72.
  • 3. Laprade, 128.
  • 4. Life, iv. 159-60.
  • 5. Diary, ii. 188.
  • 6. Diary and Corresp. ii. 122.