BLOXAM, Matthew (1744-1822), of Highgate, Mdx. and Morden, Surr.
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Family and Education
bap. 10 Aug. 1744, 1st s. of Rev. Matthew Bloxam of Comberton, Worcs. by Elizabeth, da. of Henry Turner of Gloucester. educ. his father’s sch. m. 4 Jan. 1767, Elizabeth Ann, da. of William Baker, stationer, of St. Mary Woolnoth, London, 1s. 1da. Kntd. 19 June 1800.
Sheriff, London 1787-8, alderman 1803-21; vol. London and Westminster light horse 1794-5.
Master, Stationers’ Co. 1806-7; storekeeper to Stationery Office 1818-d.
Bloxam, a self-made businessman apprenticed to a London stationer in 1759, rose to be principal of the firm of Foudrinier, Bloxam and Walker, wholesale stationers, of Lombard Street: by 1802 he could claim that they were ‘the first wholesale house in London’.1 As sheriff of London he interested himself in the treatment of arrested debtors and founded the sheriffs’ fund for debtors.2 His return for Maidstone as a ministerial supporter in 1788 was sponsored by John Brenchley of the Southwark bank, whose partnership (Sanderson, Harrison and Brenchley of St. Margaret’s Hill) Bloxam joined in 1791.
Bloxam always had to fight for his seat for Maidstone and enlisted government patronage.3 He stated in 1806 that he had uniformly supported government. By 1791 he had ceased to favour the claims to relief of religious dissenters. In 1796 his seat was endangered and he was reported to have offered himself at Preston, Reading and Ilchester; but the retirement of the Whig sitting Member Clement Taylor enabled him to return to Maidstone successfully. He even found time to recruit London support for Sir William Geary in the county election. In January 1802 he was reported to be canvassing Wallingford on the Sykes interest, but he again fell back on Maidstone. By 1802 he had spent £15,000 on elections and had probably wished for a cheaper seat than Maidstone. In 1795 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the aldermanic gown in Langbourn Ward; he had to wait until June 1803 for success, in Bridge Ward Within.4
Bloxam was a silent supporter of Pitt until 1801, voting for the loyalty loan bonus, 1 June 1797, and for the triple tax assessment, 4 Jan. 1798. No vote against Addington is known and in July 1802 he made a bid for the supply of the Stationery Office stipulating, instead of a percentage commission, for a proportion of the savings he guaranteed to the public purse.5 He was listed ‘Pitt’ in March 1804, but having joined the opposition to Pitt’s additional force bill in June, became ‘doubtful’ in the Treasury list of September. In his only known speech, 25 June 1804, he defended the Bank of England and other bankers from the insinuation that they were involved in the purchase of counterfeit dollars. He voted against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, and was listed ‘Pitt’ in July.
On the advent of the Grenville ministry, Bloxam renewed his tender for the supply of the Stationery Office, offering a 3 per cent discount on current prices; he expected to save the public over £6,000 per annum. The Treasury were still considering the offer in November when he was defeated at Maidstone. He complained to Lords Grenville and Spencer that, having stood as a supporter of the ministry, he had been ousted by ‘notorious bribery’ and expected to petition successfully against the return. Meanwhile he proposed to find another seat as a government supporter.6 Nothing came of his expectations then and financial difficulties beset him from 1809, when his bank failed. In 1794 he had joined the consortium of Wilkinson, Polhill, Pinhorn and Bulcock, becoming senior partner at 27 Gracechurch Street in 1805. He described the failure as follows:
We were run upon most unexpectedly, and long before I had breakfasted, the house was shut up, and a large mob was round the doors. For a long time I could not account for it; at last it came across me like a flash of lightning. We had, only a week or two before we stopped, taken in a new clerk to replace one that had died, and the cashier, when he went to dinner, by mistake left him at the counter. The chap was a Yorkshireman, and at once saw how things were, and, not having been used to our ways, he told some friend, that friend told a third, and so we were run out. This, however, I will say for all the other clerks, we paid them well, dined them well once a week—they knew our secret, and kept it for full ten long years. My first toast after dinner always was ‘D—n banking! Curse banking! B—t banking !’ and the next was, to the clerks, ‘Come, boys, hear, see, and say nothing’.
In later life he was often heard to say; ‘I hate banking. When I was a banker I never slept soundly, and there never was a day I was not afraid of stopping payment.’7 He complained that he had been ‘pillaged and robbed to the amount of £300,000, and that when a bill-broker he had discounted over two millions a year’. His financial straits compelled him to decline the lord mayoralty every year after 1811 until he resigned his gown in 1821. In 1818, hopelessly injured in a chaise accident on Ludgate Hill, he was appointed storekeeper to the Stationery Office, worth £800 at the time of his death, 16 Oct. 1822.8
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Authors: Lawrence Taylor / R. G. Thorne
- 1. Spencer mss, Bloxam to Spencer, 30 July 1802.
- 2. Gent. Mag. (1788), ii. 641.
- 3. PRO 30/8/114, f. 89; 157, f. 96; Add. 38458, f. 163.
- 4. Fortescue mss, Bloxam to Grenville, 2 Nov. 1806; City Biog. (1800), 124; True Briton, 2 June 1796; The Times, 27 Jan., 29 Dec. 1802.
- 5. Add. 38236, f. 111; Spencer mss, Bloxam to Spencer, 30 July 1802.
- 6. Spencer mss, Bloxam to Spencer, 20 Feb., 13 Mar., 3 Nov., reply 5 Nov.; Fortescue mss, Bloxam to Grenville, 2 Nov. 1806.
- 7. Hilton Price, London Bankers, 17.
- 8. Edinburgh Advertiser, 30 June 1818; Gent. Mag. (1822), ii. 374; Annual Biog. (1823), 435.