Thursday, 2 July 2009

Richard Barwell, an Indian Nabob



Richard Barwell (1741-1804)

Described by his biographers as an East Indian Co. Civil Servant, Richard Barwell was born in Calcutta the son of William Barwell (1705-69), Governor of Fort William, Bengal (1748), and a director of the East India Co. (1758-1766) and his third wife Elizabeth Pearce.
Most probably due to the influence of his father Richard Barwell hold offices with the East India Co. from 1756 having risen to Member of the Bengal Council in 1774 under the controversial Warren Hastings (1732-1818) governor-general of what was to become British India.
Having made an enormous fortune in India, estimated to be over £ 400,000, he returned to England in 1780 having bought his way into the House of Commons, elected M.P. for Helston (1781-4), St. Ives (1784-90) and Fort Winchelsea (1790-6), for «…prestige and also to protect himself against attacks on the sources of his East India wealth», according to reputable sources.
But being an M.P. and wealthy was not enough to obtain the desirable social status, and so Richard Barwell purchased for £ 100,000 the estate of Stansted Park in Sussex, from the trustees of Lord George Montague-Dunk, 2nd. Earl of Halifax, apart from other land and property in the area and a house at St. James’s Square, in London.

He also had portraits made by famous painters (see, Richard Barwell 1741-1804. By George Engleheart 1786 - http://fr.cinoa.org/art-and-antiques/detail/52075 and Portrait of Richard Barwell and His Son, by J. Reynolds - http://www.artfact.com/auction-lot/sir-joshua-reynolds-p.r.a.-plympton,-devon-1723-1-1-c-7wvq8botnr)
While in India Barwell married Elizabeth Sanderson, in 1776, and secondly, in 1785, Catherine Coffin of Boston, Mass., by whom he had ten children.
Known for his licentiousness Barwell had also children from a Mrs Seaforth (née Rebecca Lyne) painted by Reynolds.
Arms: Barwell (?) - Barry of ten, argent and sable, over all a griffin segreant vert. Probably assumed arms.
Crest: a demi-wolf salient ermine
F 1709
Sources: Lewis Namier, John Brooke. The House of Commons, 1754-1790, reprint, Boydell & Brewer, 1985, pp. 60-61

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