Raikes, Thomas (DNB00)
|←Raikes, Robert||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47
RAIKES, THOMAS (1777–1848), dandy and diarist, born on 3 Oct. 1777, was the eldest son of Thomas Raikes, elder brother of Robert Raikes [q. v.], the promoter of Sunday schools. A merchant in London, governor of the Bank of England in the crisis of 1797, and personal friend of Wilberforce and the younger William Pitt, the father married at St. George's, Bloomsbury, on 8 Dec. 1774, Charlotte, daughter of the Hon. Henry Finch, younger son of Daniel, earl of Winchilsea. His portrait was painted by Romney and engraved by Hodges in 1787. Henry Raikes [q. v.] was a younger son.
Thomas, the younger, was educated at Eton, where he became a ‘fair classical scholar’ and made the acquaintance of many youths, including George Brummell, who were destined to be his friends in fashionable life. In his nineteenth year he was sent abroad with a private tutor to acquire a knowledge of modern languages, and visited most of the German courts, including Berlin and Dresden. On his return to England he was admitted as a partner in his father's office, but he was more at home in the clubs of the West-end. There he spent all his time (when he could escape from business) in the company of the ‘dandies.’ He was an early member of the Carlton Club, joined White's Club about 1810, and belonged to Watier's. At those places he was a butt, ‘though he did kick out sometimes and to some purpose,’ and as he was ‘a city merchant as well as a dandy,’ his nickname was Apollo, ‘because he rose in the east and set in the west.’ His name appears with almost unequalled regularity in White's betting book.
Raikes was at the Hague in 1814, spending most of his time in the house of Lord Clancarty, the English ambassador; he visited Paris in 1814, 1819, and 1820, and he spent the winter of 1829–30 in Russia. But he still remained in business, and on 13 Nov. 1832, at a meeting of city merchants at the London Tavern, proposed the second resolution against the war with Holland. Financial troubles, however, forced him to leave for France in the summer of 1833, and for eight years he remained abroad. In 1838 he visited Carlsbad and Venice with Lord Yarmouth, and next year he was at Naples and Rome with Lord Alvanley. In October 1841, when the tories came into office, Raikes returned to England, hoping for a post through the influence of the Duke of Wellington, but his expectations were disappointed, and he found most of his old friends dead or in retirement. The following years were spent partly in London and partly in Paris, and in July 1845 he paid a long visit to Lord Glengall at Cahir in Ireland. His health was now beginning to fail, and in May 1846 he was at Bath for its waters. He then took a house at Brighton, and died there on 3 July 1848.
Raikes married, on 4 May 1802, Sophia, daughter of Nathaniel Bayly, a West Indian proprietor. She died in Berkeley Square, London, on 5 April 1810, leaving one son, Henry Thomas Raikes, afterwards judge of the high court at Calcutta, and three daughters, Harriet being the second. Raikes's sister, also named Harriet (d. 1817), married, on 3 Aug. 1806, Sir Stratford Canning, afterwards Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe (see Burke, Peerage, s.v. ‘Garvagh’).
Raikes's best book was his diary, comprising reminiscences of the leading men of fashion and politics—such as the Duke of York, Brummell, Alvanley, and Talleyrand—in London and Paris during the earlier part of the nineteenth century. It was published as 1. ‘A Portion of the Journal kept by Thomas Raikes from 1831 to 1847,’ vols. i. and ii. being issued in 1856, and vols. iii. and iv. in 1857. A new edition appeared in 1858 in two volumes, and a selection from it was edited by Richard Henry Stoddard at New York in 1875 in the Bric-à-brac series. His other works were: 2. ‘A Visit to St. Petersburg in the Winter of 1829–30,’ London, 1838; Philadelphia, 1838. 3. ‘France since 1830,’ 1841; condemned by the ‘Athenæum’ as the clippings and cuttings of the daily papers. 4. ‘Private Correspondence with the Duke of Wellington and other Distinguished Contemporaries,’ 1861, edited by his daughter, Harriet Raikes; most of the letters to the duke related to French politics from 1840 to 1844.
Raikes was a tall large man, very much marked with the smallpox. His figure and attire, ‘surtout closed to the extent of three buttons, plaid trousers, and black cravat,’ were caricatured by Dighton as ‘one of the Rakes of London.’ The same portrait is prefixed to his journal, inserted in Gronow's ‘Reminiscences’ (ed. 1889), ii. 240, and in the ‘History of White's Club,’ ii. 203.[Preface to his own journal; Works of Raikes; Stapylton's Eton Lists, p. 3; Gronow's Reminiscences, i. 164, 227, 279; White's Club, ii. passim; Gent. Mag. 1810 pt. i. p. 397, 1848 pt. ii. p. 332.]