Sir John Lubbock

The First Baronet Sir John Lubbock (1744 – 1816)
Sir John Lubbock, 1st Baronet (bapt 20 August 1744 – 24 February 1816) was an eminent English banker.

Lubbock was a banker, merchant and member of Parliament. He was the first son of a Cambridge don, the Revereend William Lubbock of Lammas, Norfolk, by Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cooper of North Walsham, Norfolk. He married Elizabeth Christiana Commerell, daughter of his business partner, Frederick Commerell of Hanwell, Middlesex and his wife Catherine Elton on 12 Oct 1771 at St Dunstan’s in the East, London. They had no children. In 1806 he was created a Baronet, of Lammas, with remainder to his nephew John William Lubbock who succeeded him as second Baronet.

He was sent to London to learn business in the house of Commerell in Bishopsgate Street, London, of which he became a partner after his marriage. John adopted his nephew, John William Lubbock and had him educated at Charterhouse. After, he taught John William about his business.

In 1772, Lubbock became a partner in the London bank of Lemon, Buller, Finlay and Lubbock of 15 Abchurch Lane and later Mansion House Street. In 1785, the partnership changed to Forster, Lubbock and Bosanquet and in 1801 to Forster, Lubbock, Forster and Clarke. Finally, in 1814 it was Sir John Lubbock, Lubbock & Co, the second partner being John William Lubbock, John’s nephew and heir.

In 1784, he stood unsuccessfully as parliamentary candidate for the Devizes constituency in Wiltshire. In November 1795 he was one of the sponsors of the London merchants and bankers loyal declaration of support for Pitt’s government. At the ensuing election in 1796 he was returned for Bossiney in Cornwall as a guest of Lord Mount Edgecumbe. In 1802, he appeared as a candidate for Leominster, Herefordshire and secured his election with votes as follows

* John Lubbock 498
* Hon Charles Kinnaird 335
* Mr. Taylor 281

In 1794, the Directory of London & Westminster & Southwark shows him as a merchant in business with his partner F. Commerell at 2 St Mildred’s Court, Poultry in the City of London.

In 1806, he was re-elected without opposition. There he remained until his retirement in favour of his nephew in 1812.

In 1797, he insisted that the bank was fully competent to liquidate all the demands that could be brought against it, and recommended that £3,000,000 should be added to the capital, to enable the directors to discount to such an amount as would accommodate the commercial world. He was well disposed to the Greville ministry, which made him a baronet on 9 Apr 1806. John accepted this on the condition that he might pass it on to his nephew John William. This was granted and John William in gratitude chose the family motto to with it “Auctor pretiosa facit” (the giver makes the gift precious). He was listed amongst the “staunch friends” of the abolition of the slave trade at around the same time.

His nephew wrote of him “he was an excellent man of business and a genial, kind friend. He was fond of horses and hunting and used to drive 4 Greys into the City from his house in St James Place, which he had purchased in 1802 with Samuel Rogers the poet; Sir John taking ⅔ and Mr Rogers ⅓. Sir John bought Clapham House 25 May 1787 from an MP called W. G. Hamilton (known as “single speech” Hamilton). Clapham House, later renamed Battersea Rise, later became famous as the residence of William Wilberforce and Henry Thornton, whom John sold it to in Aug 1792. This could be how John ended up on the anti slavery stand through his acquaintance with these gentlemen. Afterwards he rented Marble Hill Cottage near Richmond from a Miss Hotham, daughter of Sir Charles Hotham, Bart. (this being the first known link between those two families; the son of his heir and nephew was later to marry Harriet Hotham) from 1792. He then purchased it in 1807 and kept it as a residence until 1812.

Other residences included Hevingham Hall in Norfolk, Lammas in Norfolk, Tokin House Yard in London (Jan 1765 – Jul 1768), Broad Street, Walthamstow (1771 – 1774), , Stratford Place, Oxford Street (1794 – his death) and a house in Gorleston, Norfolk which he sold in Mar 1802.

He died 24 Feb 1816 at 23 St James Place. He is buried at St James’s Church, Piccadilly where there were tablets to his memory, and that of his wife, in the belltower. There is no sign of them now and it is thought that the memorials may have been destroyed in the blitz.

Two portraits of John are known. The first is a full length portrait of him as a young man aged about 18, which used to be at High Elms in Kent, the family home during the 19th and 20th centuries. The second is of a more rotund version of him in much later life seated in a chair. There is also a picture of his young wife dated 1774 by John Downman, which appeared for sale advertised in Country Life (magazine). The present day whereabouts of all these pictures is unknown, although reproductions exist.

His wife outlived him by many years, moving to St Leonards in Sussex after her husband’s death. She eventually died there in 1845 at the age of 94.