Houblon, John (DNB00)

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HOUBLON, Sir JOHN (d. 1712), first governor of the Bank of England, born in London, was the third son of James Houblon, by his wife Marie Ducane. His father an eminent merchant and the elder of the French protestant church of London, belonged to a Huguenot family (Huguenot Society's Publications, ii. 88). John probably joined his father in business, and soon became successful as a Spanish merchant. He was a member of the Grocers' Company, and served the office of master in 1696. He was elected sheriff on Midsummer-day 1689, and alderman of Cornhill ward on 17 Sept. in the same year. He was knighted by William III at the mayoralty feast at Guildhall on 29 Oct. 1689. Houblon was a whig, and was put up with Sir John Fleet by his party in 1692 for the office of lord mayor, in opposition to two tory aldermen. Houblon and Fleet were returned to the court of aldermen, and Fleet, who was the senior, was chosen. Houblon was similarly returned by the livery in 1693, and was elected and chosen lord mayor on 28 Sept. 1695. His mayoralty pageant was composed by Elkanah Settle, and entitled 'The Triumph of London,' the costs being defrayed by the Grocers' Company. On 30 Jan. 1693-4 he was appointed by commission a lord of the admiralty (Luttrell, iii. 262), and held this office 2 June 1699 (Haydn Book of Dignities, 3rd edit., p. 176).

Houblon was a subscriber, on 21 June 1694. of l0,000l for the establishment of the Bank of England, and was its first governor. Through his influence Grocers' Hall became the place of meeting for the governors, who had in the first instance met at Mercers' Chapel (Luttrell, iii. 332, 376). On 15 Aug. 1696 he introduced the general court of the Bank to advance 200,000l. to the king for the payment of the army in Flanders (Macaulay, Hist. iv. 155). On 5 Dec. 1696 he attended the House of Commons and delivered a statement of the accounts of the Bank (ib. iv. 149; cf. Calendar of Treasury Papers, 1697-1701-2, pp. 473-4). According to Luttrell, he was a commissioner of the victualling office (v. 239), and on 16 March 1703-4 was chosen by the House of Lords one of the commissioners of accounts (ib. v. 403). On 31 March 1706 he obtained early news from his Spanish agent of the raising of the siege of Gibraltar by the French and Spaniards (ib. p. 536). His house of business was in Threadneedle Street. He died 10 Jan. 1711-12 (ib. vi. 713), and was buried at St. Benet's, Paul's Wharf (Le Neve, Pedigree of Knight, p. 424). He was a benefactor in his lifetime to the Corporation for the Poor of the City of London (Hatton, New View of London, 1708, p. 753). He married Mary Jurion of London, who died 10 Dec. 1732, aged 92, and was buried at St. Benet's. By her he had a daughter, Arabella, and a son, Jacob, rector of Moreton, Essex.

His brother, Sir James Houblon (d. 1700), was elected in September 1692 alderman of London for Aldersgate ward; was knighted at the mayoralty feast 29 Oct. following; was appointed a director of the newly-founded Bank of England July 1694; was sent as a deputy-governor of the Bank to establish a bank at Antwerp 'to coin money to pay our army in Flanders' in May 1695; and represented the city in parliament (1698-1700). He died in October 1701. He had a house near Epping Forest. An Abraham Houblon was also director of the Bank of England.

[City Records; Kearslsy's London Register, 1787: Orridge's Citizens of London and their Rulers; authorities above cited; Luttrell's Brief Relation.]

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