BANKS, Joseph (1665-1727), of Revesby Abbey, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. 6 Sept. 1665, 2nd s. of Robert Banks of Beck Hall, Giggleswick, Yorks. by Margaret, da. of John Frankland of Rathmell, Yorks. m. 1689, Mary, da. of Rev. Rowland Hancock, dissenting minister, of Shircliffe Hall, nr. Sheffield, 1s. 1da. who m. Sir Francis Whichcote, 3rd Bt..
A country attorney, Banks made a fortune as agent for the Dukes of Leeds, Norfolk and Newcastle, buying estates in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.1 In 1715 he stood for Grimsby against Arthur Moore. Hearing that Moore, who was heavily in debt, had given notes to his creditors promising to pay them two days after the election, Banks ‘told them that Moore would then plead privilege, but if they would choose him, he would take the notes and pay them, which offer they accepted’.2 Returned as a Whig, he voted with the Government in every recorded division, making his only reported speech against a bill for improving the harbour of Sunderland and the navigability of the river Wear in 1717. In 1719 he and another self-made man bought for £7,300 a half-share of the Durham estates of Lord Widdrington, who had forfeited them for his part in the Fifteen, selling them back to the family in 1727 for £12,000.3 In 1720 he accepted £1,000 stock from the South Sea Company at 310, selling out at 750, but unlike his fellow-Member for Grimsby, Sir Robert Chaplin, he was able to show that he had paid for it.4 He lost his Grimsby seat in 1722, polling only one vote, but was returned for Totnes on the Treasury interest. In the last years of his life he turned his attention to the possibilities presented by reclamation operations proceeding at Deeping Fen in Lincolnshire. On 21 May 1727 a son of Gilbert Heathcote, one of the owners of the fen, wrote after a talk with Banks:
I perceived his intention is large profit, though now and then covered up by a charitable pretence of doing great good to the country and nation and what a pity it is such good land should remain drowned.
Asking to be kept informed of Banks’s activities, he remarked that it was advisable
when one hears of privateers upon the coast to keep a good look out, as they say at sea, and it may not be amiss for those concerned in the free lands in Deeping Fen to observe what is doing, for I believe though there is some among them who as well as my father will not easily suffer themselves to be fooled and imposed on.