Beaumont, John Thomas Barber (DNB00)

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BEAUMONT, JOHN THOMAS BARBER (1774–1841), founder of insurance offices, usually known as 'Barber Beaumont,' was born 22 Dec. 1774, and devoted his early life to historic painting, securing medals from the Royal Academy and the Society of Arts. At the time of the threatened Bonaparte invasion of England he raised a rifle corps, urged that the people should be armed as sharpshooters, and is said to have trained his men so perfectly in rifle practice, that on one occasion he held the target in Hyde Park, while his entire corps fired at it from a distance of one hundred and fifty yards. In 1807 he founded the County Fire and the Provident Life offices, still carrying on business in Regent Street, in offices designed by himself. He resisted a fraudulent claim made upon the fire company in 1824 by Thomas Thurtell, and ultimately secured the committal of this man and his associates to Newgate. The brother, John Thurtell ( afterwards executed for the murder of Mr. Weare), took up the quarrel, and made an attempt to murder Beaumont, which failed by a mere accident. Beaumont also took an active part in the exposure of a fraudulent insurance office (the notorious West Middlesex). In 1825 he fought against the board of stamps, which charged his company with defrauding the inland revenue, and came off victorious, notwithstanding that he had been mulct in a fine of 500l. Under the pseudonym of 'Philanthropes' he published an essay on 'Life Insurance' in 1814. He established (in 1806) the Provident Institution and Savings Bank in Covent Garden, and in 1816 he published an essay on 'Provident or Parish Banks.' In 1821 he published an 'Essay on Criminal Jurisprudence.' Shortly before his death he founded the New Philosophical Institution in Beaumont Square. He died 15 May 1841, aged 67.

[C. Walford's Insurance Cyclopædia, i. 261-2; morning Chronicle, 20 May 1841; Angelo's Reminiscences, vol. ii.]

C. W.