WHITE, Matthew (?1766-1840), of Crouch End, Hornsey, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1802 - 1806
1812 - 1818

Family and Education

b. ?1766, 2nd s. of Thomas White, merchant, of New York by w. Ann, ?da. of Elizabeth Campbell, wid., of New York. m. Sarah, 16 ch. born by 1813 (12 out of 14 alive in 1812).

Offices Held

Vol. London and Westminster light horse 1794-1807.


White was the son of a New York merchant, one of 39 loyalists attainted in 1779, who died 6 Aug. 1781. His eldest brother Thomas, his mother and his sisters remained in New York, but Matthew had proceeded to London in 1778 and was in 1781 bound apprentice to the merchant Robert Wigram* for five years. Finding no employment for himself, or his younger brother Daniel who wished for (and soon obtained) an ensigncy, he appealed and obtained £25 p.a. for both of them, 16 Nov. 1787, the commission for loyalist claims admitting that his father had been ‘a very zealous loyalist’ who had ‘lost a considerable fortune by his adherence to the cause of Great Britain’. In fact the family had put in a claim for £9,290 compensation, were awarded less than £2,700 and, as only Matthew and his brother in England received any share of it, a grievance developed.1

By 1795, White was a London merchant, for he signed the declaration of 2 Dec. in support of Pitt’s government, his address being Finsbury Square. His partner was Cleland. He also subscribed £1,000 from the same address to the loyalty loan for 1797. In 1802 he was one of two candidates who successfully contested the borough of Hythe on the independent (and largely non-resident) interest said to be under the direction of the Chitty family. He was, he claimed, ‘a firm friend to our King, and as firmly attached to our glorious constitution’.2 On 15 Sept. 1802 White’s friend Starling Day of Norwich recommended him to Lord Hobart for an introduction to Castlereagh, then at the head of the Board of Control, stating that White was ‘largely connected in the India business, but not a director’ and was, moreover, ‘an intelligent man and one whose knowledge of India affairs will render him serviceable in the lower House’.3 At this time, White’s business premises were in Old Broad Street. He is known to have been an East India ship’s husband and to have been bankrupt by January 1806.

White, who made no recorded speech in the House, appears to have supported ministers until on 15 Mar. 1804 he joined Pitt’s minority on naval defence. On 23 and 25 Apr. he was again in the minorities on defence that brought down Addington’s administration. He was subsequently listed as a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry and on 8 Apr. voted against the censure of Melville. On 14 Aug. 1806, when it was clear that the Grenville ministry would support Viscount Marsham at Hythe, White informed Lord Hawkesbury that he would not have a running partner on the independent interest at the ensuing election.4 If this was a bid to come in by compromise, it failed, for White was bottom of the poll in a three-sided contest. In 1807 when he returned to the fray together with Thomas William Plummer* as ‘the firm friends of our King and country ... advocates of the church and state’, he was once more defeated.

In 1812 White again found an opening at Hythe and was this time successful, and made a freeman. Meanwhile, with an enormous family to support, his mercantile speculations had ‘not been prosperous’. He subsequently appeared as a spokesman with government for the uncompensated American loyalists, hoping doubtless to recoup his fortunes.5 He was on the Treasury list after the election and his preference was probably for the majority, for he was in favour of Catholic relief on 2 March and against it on 24 May. He was also in the majority favourable to Christian missions to India, 12 July 1813. He was, however, in the minorities against the Corn Laws, 23 May 1814, 1 and 10 Mar. 1815. He appeared in the government lobby on 31 May 1815, 6, 8 and 18 Mar., 6 May, 14 and 17 June 1816, 7, 17 and 25 Feb. 1817 and 5 Mar. and 15 Apr. 1818. He had again voted against Catholic relief, 9 May 1817. On 24 Apr. 1818 he was in the minority on the public purchase of Dr Burney’s library and on 14 May in another on the extension of inquiry into forgery.

In 1818 White, who had meanwhile become a stockbroker at 44 Lothbury, evidently declined a poll, but his friends put him up ineffectually late in the day.6 It was his last fling. From 1819 to 1824 his London address was still 35 Bedford Square, but, from 1827 to 1829, 20 Newman Street, after which he disappears from view. He has, however, been identified with Matthew White, late of London, who died at Plymouth, 11 Mar. 1840, and was buried at Beckenham with his son of the same name.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. PRO, AO 12/102, p. 108; 12/109, p. 320.
  • 2. N. and Q. (ser. 12), ii. 456; J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1806) 536; (1808) 297; Kentish Chron. 15 June 1802.
  • 3. Bucks. RO, Hobart mss J230.
  • 4. Add. 38242, f. 10.
  • 5. Biog. List of the H. of C. (1812), 39; Add. 38252, f. 96; 38272, f. 343; 38284, f. 232.
  • 6. Kentish Chron. 16 June 1818.