Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 39.djvu/444

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Myddelton
Myddelton
438

to him at Islington Green, on the Holborn Viaduct, and in the Royal Exchange.

In 1614 Myddelton, who had involved himself in difficulties by locking up his capital in this costly undertaking, was obliged to solicit the loan of 3,000l. from the corporation, which was granted him in 'consideration of the benefit likely to accrue to the city from his New River.' Of the thirty-six shares owned by him he sold as many as twenty-eight, but appears to have repurchased some before his death, when he held thirteen (Wills from Doctors' Commons, Camd. Soc.) The shareholders were incorporated by letters patent on 21 June 1619, under the title of 'The Governor and Company of the New River brought from Chad well and Am well to London,' and at the first court of proprietors held on 2 Nov. Myddelton was appointed governor. No dividend was paid until 1633 two years after Myddelton's death when it only amounted to l5l. 3s. 3d. a share ; but after 1640 the prosperity of the company steadily kept pace with the growth of the metropolis in population and wealth.

In 1617 Myddelton took from the governor and company of mines royal in Cardiganshire a lease of some lead and silver mines in the district about Plynlimmon, between the Dovey and the Ystwith, which had been unsuccessfully worked by former adventurers, and were flooded with water. He succeeded in partially clearing the mines of water, and obtained a large profit by working them. While conducting operations he resided at Lodge, now called Lodge Park, in the immediate neighbourhood of the mines. Two cups manufactured by him out of the Welsh silver were presented by him to the corporations of Denbigh and Rut bin, of which towns he was a burgess, and a gold one to the head of his family at Gwaynynog, near Denbigh, all of which are still preserved (Newcome, Denbigh, p. 48). In 1620 Myddelton began the work of reclaiming from the sea a flooded district at the eastern extremity of the Isle of Wight, called Brading Harbour (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1619-23, p. 172). He employed Dutch workmen and some invention of his own for draining land, which he patented in 1621. This undertaking was for a time successful ; but in 1624 Myddelton's connection with it ceased, and the works fell into neglect, and were destroyed by the sea. The scheme was revived a few years ago, and completed in 1882.

On 19 Oct. 1622 James created Myddelton a baronet with the remission of the customary fees in recognition of his enterprise and engineering skill (ib. 1619-23, p. 455; Harl. MS. 1507, art. 40 ; Addit. Birch MS. 4177, art. 220). The king likewise confirmed to him the lease of the mines royal, and exempted him from the payment of royalty for whatever precious metals he might discover.

In these ways Myddelton, though never a rich man, and much impoverished by his work on the New River, was enabled to end his days in comfort, andleave a respectable patrimony to his children. He died in Basinghall Street on 10 Dec. 1631, aged 71 (Probate Act Book, P. C. C., 1631), and was buried in accordance with his desire in St. Matthew, Friday Street, where he had often officiated as churchwarden (will registered in P. C. C. 137, St. John, and printed in Wills from Doctors' Commons, Camd. Soc.) He was twice married, first to Anne, daughter of a Mr. Collins of Lichfield, and widow of Richard Edwards of London, who died childless ; and secondly to Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Olmested of Ingatestone, Essex, by whom he had ten sons and six daughters. His eldest surviving son, William, married Eleanor, daughter of Sir Thomas Harris, bart., of Shrewsbury. To the Goldsmiths' Company Myddelton bequeathed a share in the New River Company for the benefit of the more necessitous brethren of that guild, 'especially to such as should be of his name, kindred, and country,' a fund that contributed to the support of several of his more improvident descendants.

On 24 June 1632 Lady Myddelton memorialised the common council of London with reference to the loan of 3,000l. advanced to Myddelton, which does not seem to have been repaid ; and on 10 Oct. 1634 the corporation re-allowed 1,000l. of the amount, in consideration of the public benefit conferred on the city by Myddelton through the formation of the New River. Lady Myddelton died at Bush Hill on 19 July 1643, aged 63, and was buried in the chancel of Edmonton Church.

Portraits of Myddelton and his second wife, painted by Cornelius Jansen, belonged in 1866 to the Rev. J. M. St. Clere Raymond (Catalogue of Portraits at South Kensington, pp. 81-2, Nos. 478 and 483). Another portrait of Myddelton by Jansen hangs in Goldsmiths' Hall ; it was engraved by George Vertue in 1722, and again by Phillibrown for Lodge's 'Portraits.'

[Smiles's Lives of the Engineers (new edit. 1874), section i. ; Biographia Britannica under 'Middleton ; ' Lewis's Hist, of Islington, pp. 424-30 ; Stow's London (Strype), bk. i. p. 25, bk. v. p. 60 ; Lodge's Portraits (Bonn), iii. 267-273 ; Fuller's Worthies (ed. 1662), 'Wales,' p. 36 ; Gardiner's Hist, of England, ii. 215 ; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1605-31; Granger's Biog.