Mawbey, Joseph (DNB00)

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MAWBEY, Sir JOSEPH (1730–1798), politician, born at Ravenstone, in a house partly in Derbyshire and partly in Leicestershire, on 2 Dec. 1730, was fourth son and youngest child of John Mawbey, who died 4 Sept. 1754, aged 61, by his first wife, Martha, daughter of Thomas Pratt, who died in September 1737. Both were buried at Ravenstone, where Joseph erected in 1764, on the north wall of the chancel, a mural monument to the memory of his parents and ancestors. When about ten years old he was removed to Surrey by his uncle, Joseph Pratt, chief owner of a distillery at Vauxhall, to be trained for the ministry of the English church, but in consequence of the serious illness of another nephew of Pratt, a partner in the distillery, he was taken into the business at the age of seventeen, and carried it on for many years with his brother John. On his uncle's death in 1754, Joseph Mawbey inherited considerable property in Surrey and established himself as a landed proprietor. He was sheriff of the county in 1757, bought the estate of Botleys in Chertsey in 1763, on which he built a large house, and for about twenty-seven years acted, on the whole with considerable success, as chairman of the Surrey quarter sessions. From 1761 to 1768 and from 1768 to 1774 he sat for Southwark, Henry Thrale, Johnson's friend, being his colleague from 1765. In 1774 he contested the county of Surrey, but through the coalition of the interests of four other candidates he was defeated, though 1,390 votes were given for him. On a chance vacancy in June 1775 he was at the head of the poll; he was in the same position in 1780, when he incurred the odium of some of his whig supporters through his refusal to coalesce with Admiral Keppel; and in April 1784 he was returned without a contest.

Originally in opposition to toryism, he became a supporter of Pitt; after 1790, however, he ceased to sit in parliament. By his first friends in politics he was created a baronet (30 July 1765), and another distinction on which he plumed himself was his friendship with Speaker Onslow. He died at Botleys, 16 June 1798, and was buried in the family vault in the chancel of Chertsey Church, where his wife and several of his children had preceded him. He married in August 1760 Elizabeth, only surviving daughter of his cousin, Richard Pratt of Vauxhall, and on her brother's death in 1766 she succeeded to considerable property. She died at Botleys, 19 Aug. 1790, having had nine children, four of whom were then alive. The second and last baronet was Sir Joseph Mawbey, who died 28 Aug. 1817. The estate of Botleys was sold by his trustees in 1822. Several members of the family of Pratt were buried at Lambeth, and a monument was erected by Mawbey to their memory in 1779. His portrait by R. E. Pine, a three-quarter length, with table covered with 'votes' and with a book in his left hand lettered 'Sidney' and opened at 'On Government,' was engraved by John Dixon. An engraving of him by T. Holloway appeared in the 'European Magazine,' March 1787.

Mawbey, though leaning for many years to the side of the whigs, professed to be above party, and so was ridiculed by the wits of either side. Walpole calls him 'vain, noisy, and foolish.' Among the best-known lines in the 'Rolliad' are those referring to Speaker Cornwall's 'unhappy fate' who hears

Fox, North, and Burke, but hears Sir Joseph too.

Other passages in the same poem allude to his voice, his knowledge 'in grain,' and to the fact that

Sir Joseph is as witty as he's good.

The last of the translations of Lord Belgrave's quotation in the 'Political Miscellanies' at the end of the 'Rolliad' is assigned to him, and he is introduced by Gillray into his caricatures of ancient music (10 May 1787) and 'A Pig in a Poke' (10 Dec. 1788). On 14 Nov. 1768 Wilkes presented a petition through him, and numerous speeches by him on the proceedings against Wilkes are reported in Sir Henry Cavendish's 'Debates.' He was author of 'The Battle of Epsom. A New Ballad' [anon.], 1763, on a meeting convened to return an address of thanks for the recent peace; the first production printed by Wilkes at his private press, and it was reprinted for sale at Guildford and in London in the same year. He is also credited with some 'Reflections on the French Revolution.' For many years he was a contributor in prose and verse to the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' the chief of his communications being 'Account of Elections for Surrey,' 1788, pt. ii. pp. 975, 1052-3, and 'Account of Thomas, or “Hesiod” Cooke,' 1791, pt, ii. and 1792, pt. i. A road-certificate which he had given when late in life caused him so much trouble that he printed 'A Letter to the Magistrates of Surrey' in vindication of his conduct, which is given in the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' 1797, pt. i. pp. 379-80, and an account of an unfortunate altercation with Richard Wyatt is in the 'Westminster Magazine,' February 1773, p. 157. A volume of 'Miscellaneous Pieces, by Leonard Howard, Rector of St. George's, Southwark,' 1765, was dedicated to Mawbey, who wrote a letter to Howard, which is inserted in the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' 1797, pt. ii. pp. 742-3. Several letters by him belong to the Marquis of Lansdowne (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. App. p. 240).

[Gent. Mag. 1790 pt. ii. pp. 649, 748, 769, 1798 pt. i. p. 543, pt. ii. p. 622; European Mag. 1787, pt. i. pp. 139-40; Leicestershire Collections in Bibl. Topogr. Britannica, viii. 1397-1408 (by himself); Nichols's Leicestershire, vol. iii. pt. ii. pp. 931-9; Manning and Bray's Surrey, iii. 222-223, 234-5, 488-9, 513; Admiral Keppel's Life, ii. 286-8; Wright and Evans on Gillray's Caricatures, pp. 20, 27; J. C. Smith's Portraits, i. 212-213; Walpole's George III, iii. 260-1, 275-6, 281, 318, 400, iv. 293; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. ix. 342, 452, 4th ser. i. 581, xi. 485, xii. 119, 458, 513.]

W. P. C.