WESTERN, Samuel (1652-99), of Gray’s Inn; Dyce Key, Billingsgate, London, and Rivenhall, Essex
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Family and Education
bap. 3 Aug. 1652, 1st s. of Thomas Western (d. 1707), Grocer, of Lower Thames Street, London, and Rivenhall, Essex by Martha, da. of Samuel Gott†, Ironmonger, of London. educ. St. Catharine’s, Camb. 1669; G. Inn 1670, called 1678. m. lic. 18 Aug. 1690, Anna Maria, da. of William Finch, Mercer, of Little St. Helen’s, London, 3s. (2 d.v.p.).1
Western’s father, coming from an established commercial family in the capital, started his own business and became one of several Wealden ironfounders who prospered as government contractors for ordnance. The expansion of Thomas Western’s concerns during the 1670s and 1680s enabled him to enlarge his property-holdings in the parish of St. Dunstan’s and to purchase a country seat at Rivenhall in Essex. His eldest son, Samuel, was groomed for a professional career in the law, and the Gray’s Inn address given on his marriage licence in 1690 would indicate that he had indeed set up in practice as a barrister. In 1689 he was elected to the Convention for Winchelsea. Though the family was not actually resident in the area, much of its industrial activity was carried on there, particularly in the vicinity of Brede and Burwash. In addition, there were close connexions with the Gott family of Battle, in the same district. Western’s cousin (and brother-in-law) Peter Gott* was also a wealthy ironfounder and ordnance supplier whose father (Western’s maternal uncle) had represented Winchelsea during the Cavalier Parliament. Under the stimulus of war in the 1690s, his father’s production for the government reached a peak: it was mainly the Western foundry at Moorfields, just north of the City, which kept the ordnance supplied with iron and brass cannon. Given the demands of increased output for the government, it would seem highly likely that Western assumed a greater share in the supervision of the contracts, particularly after his election. The near monopoly of the Western-Gott family over ordnance work was remarked upon by Samuel Grascome in his list of placemen of 1693: ‘they and their family have got above £40,000 by supplying the office of the Ordnance since this government with great guns at their own rates’. Not surprisingly, he enjoyed close connexions with the City and its leading figures as is illustrated by his inclusion in meetings held in October 1693 to propose means of raising a fund towards satisfaction of the ‘orphans’ debt’.2
It was inevitable that Western’s loyalty to the Court should be governed by his lucrative business association with it. On the eve of the 1690 Parliament he was classed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) in separate lists as a Whig and Court supporter, his political demeanour obviously a good deal more refined than that of his ‘hot and violent’ father. In April 1691 Robert Harley* likewise noted him as a Court supporter, and such consistency is further evident in the clutch of parliamentary lists surviving for 1696 when he was forecast in January as likely to support the Court on the proposed council of trade, appeared as an early signatory to the Association, voted in March for fixing the price of guineas at 22s., and on 25 Nov. for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. Ill-health seems to have dogged him during the early months of 1697 and 1698, and it was probably for this reason that he chose not to stand for re-election. In a comparative analysis of the new and old Houses of Commons compiled just after the 1698 election, he again appears as a Court supporter.
Western died on 20 Aug. 1699, predeceasing his father, and was buried at Rivenhall. His only surviving son William inherited his Essex estate, chiefly comprising the manor of Hide Hall, and the property at Billingsgate, the latter charged with cash legacies to his wife, son and other relations totalling £4,100. His wife was to draw the profits of his ‘orphanage estate in the chamber of London’ out of which he made further family bequests of £3,600. William succeeded his grandfather Thomas Western in 1707, being a major beneficiary in a fortune then estimated at £200,000, and later married a daughter of the wealthy City magnate Sir James Bateman*. Samuel Western’s nephew Thomas sat for Sudbury in the 1715 Parliament and succeeded to the Rivenhall estate in 1730.3
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Andrew A. Hanham
- 1. London Vis. Peds. (Harl. Soc. xcii), 148–9; Vis. Essex (Harl. Soc. xiv), 747; Morant, Essex, ii. 147; J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 69, 174.
- 2. Essex Rev. x. 1–4; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 1440; E. Straker, Wealden Iron, 343; Sussex Arch. Colls. lxviii. 282; cxxi. 131, 145; O. F. G. Hogg, Royal Arsenal, i. 228, 232; H. L. Blackmore, Armouries of Tower of London, i. 342; Bodl. Rawl. D.846, f. 3; CSP Dom. 1693, p. 360.
- 3. Morant, 147; PCC 165 Pott; Luttrell, Brief Relation, vi. 130.