BARING, Francis (1740-1810), of Mincing Lane, London
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Family and Education
b. 18 Apr. 1740, 3rd s. of John Baring of Larkbear, Devon, and bro. of John Baring. m. 12 May 1767, Harriet, da. and coh. of William Herring of Croydon, Surr., 5s. 5da. cr. Bt. 29 May 1793.
Director, Royal Exchange Assurance 1772-80; director, E. I. Co. 1779-82, 1784-7, 1789-91, 1794-7, 1799-1802, 1804-7, 1809-d; dep. chairman 1791-2; chairman 1792-3.
Baring did not enter the family woollen business, but was apprenticed as a merchant to the London firm of Boehm and Co. In 1763 he went into business in London with his brother John. He was an extremely able financier and soon obtained direction of the firm, which he made a financial house of European standing. By 1784 he was one of the principal merchants trading to America, the leader of the City interest in the East India Company,1 and a recognized authority on trade and finance.
While Shelburne was at the Treasury, Baring acted as one of his chief financial advisers. ‘Mr. Baring’, wrote the King to Shelburne, 20 Sept. 1782,2 ‘by his account of Senegal and Goree fully answers the expectations in his favour Lord Shelburne has raised in my mind, and will I am confident prove very useful.’ He remained attached to Shelburne after Shelburne left office, became connected with Pitt, and in 1784 was returned as an Administration candidate at Grampound.
Though handicapped as a debater by his deafness,3 some 40 speeches by Baring are noted in the Parliament of 1784, every one on some aspect of trade or finance. ‘Few individuals [in the House] could contend with him in financial knowledge and commercial information’, wrote Wraxall.4 He advised Pitt, and was appointed by him one of the commissioners for examining the regulation of public offices. Yet his real political allegiance was to Lansdowne (as Shelburne had become in 1784). On 22 Jan. 1789 at the time of the Regency crisis he wrote to Lansdowne:5
I am inclined to think that silence of your Lordship’s friends, whilst their votes have been firm and consistent, will be well understood by the great world, as conveying a sufficient disapprobation of some parts, although upon the whole it may not be thought proper to go further. And it may have an awkward appearance with regard to some of those friends if your Lordship should hold a language upon so delicate and important a subject as to contradict their conduct. At the same time it may appear particular if your Lordship is compelled to be in town about your private affairs and to keep away from the House, although I cannot think there was any positive pledge given for your attendance when the restriction came before the House.
Over the French Revolution he adhered to Lansdowne and broke with Pitt.
Baring died 12 Sept. 1810, ‘unquestionably the first merchant in Europe, first in knowledge and talents, and first in character and opulence’.6