SAWBRIDGE, Jacob (c.1665-1748), of Olantigh, Kent and Hackney, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. c.1665, 1st s. of Isaac Sawbridge by Katherine Bathrom. m. c.1698, Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Fisher, 3s. 1da. suc. fa. 1679.
Director, South Sea Co. 1711-21.
Starting life with a ‘very considerable fortune’,1 Jacob Sawbridge became a partner in the firm of Turner, Sawbridge, and Caswall, bankers, operating under the name and charter of the Sword Blade Company. He was an original director of the South Sea Company, who banked with his firm. Returned as a Whig in 1715, he voted against the septennial bill, for the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts, but against the peerage bill on which he had been put down as to be spoken to by Craggs senior and his own partner, Sir George Caswall.
When the South Sea frauds came out at the beginning of 1721 Sawbridge, with the other directors in the Commons, was expelled the House, committed to the custody of the serjeant at arms, and examined by the South Sea committee of the Commons. He was questioned by the committee as to entries in the books of his firm purporting to show that £50,000 of the £574,000 South Sea stock which was supposed to have been issued as bribes to Members of Parliament, etc. (see under Caswall, George) had been sold at a profit of £250,000 for Charles Stanhope, secretary to the Treasury, whose name had been subsequently altered in the books to ‘Stangape’. In his evidence he exonerated Stanhope from any share in or knowledge of this transaction, declaring that he, Sawbridge, had bought the stock for himself and his partners and had entered it under a fictitious name so that their staff should not know that it belonged to them.2
On the introduction of the bill confiscating the estates of the late directors and other guilty parties for the relief of their victims, Sawbridge petitioned the House for lenient treatment on the ground that whatever he had done ‘that may have given offence hath been through ignorance and inadvertency, without any private or unlawful views or designs’.3 He was allowed to keep only £5,000 out of a fortune of £77,000, a proportion which shows that the Commons classed him among the more rascally of the directors. In common with all the directors he was also incapacitated from sitting in Parliament or holding public office.
Sawbridge died 11 July 1748. Among his grandchildren were John Sawbridge, M.P., the radical lord mayor of London, and Mrs. Macaulay, who inserted a vindication of him in her History of England.