VANNECK, Gerard William (?1743-91), of Heveningham Hall, Suff.
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Family and Education
b. ?1743, 1st surv. s. of Sir Joshua Vanneck, 1st Bt., of Heveningham Hall by Marianne, da. of Stephen Daubuz, a Huguenot refugee. educ. Eton 1755-6. unm. suc. fa. 6 Mar. 1777.
Vanneck’s father, a Dutchman by birth, settled in London as a merchant, and at his death in 1777 was described as ‘one of the richest merchants in Europe’.1 Vanneck himself was also a merchant and carried on the family firm after his father’s death.
In 1764 on the death of the last male Downing, the Vannecks obtained control of one seat at Dunwich, and in 1768 and at all his subsequent elections Gerard Vanneck was returned there unopposed. In Parliament he voted against the Grafton and North Administrations. He voted with Shelburne’s Administration on the peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and supported Pitt’s parliamentary reform proposals, 7 May 1783. He did not vote on Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, and opposed Pitt’s Administration. There is no record of his having spoken in the House; and when he was contesting the county in 1790 his career was thus summed up in an election squib:
For twenty long years I have been independent,
In the Senate a silent and constant attendant.2
On 13 Apr. 1790, Sir John Rous wrote to Pitt:
Sir Gerard Vanneck perseveres with a clear majority of the county against him: his object seems to be to try what a profusion of money can do, and as he is supported by a sort of family purse, it is impossible to keep pace with him in expense, which with every precaution must fall very heavy.3
Nevertheless Vanneck was defeated. He died 23 May 1791, leaving estates said to be worth £8,000 a year, ‘besides a fortune of between 2 and £300,000’.4