Matthew Decker

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Sir Matthew Decker, 1st Baronet (1679 – 18 March 1749) was an English merchant, writer on trade and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1719 to 1722.

Early life[edit]

Decker was born in Amsterdam, the son of Derick Decker of Amsterdam and his wife Katherina. He was educated in Amsterdam and went to London in 1702 and established himself there as a merchant.[1] He was remarkably successful in his business life, gaining great wealth and having many honours conferred upon him. He married Henrietta Watkins, daughter of the Reverend Richard Watkins D.D., rector of Whichford, Warwickshire before 1711.[2]

Commercial and political career[edit]

Decker was a governor of the South Sea Company from 1711 to 1712, and became a Director of the East India Company in 1713, remaining until 1743. He was created a baronet, of London, by George I in 1716.

With the help of the Duke of Chandos, Decker was returned unopposed as Member of Parliament for Bishop's Castle at a by-election on 17 December 1719. Chandos was a client of his for whom he bought paintings and tapestries in the Netherlands. In 1720 Decker was Assistant of the Royal African Company and became Deputy Governor of the East India Company to 1721. He told Chandos in 1721 that he had had enough of Parliament, and did not stand in the 1722 general election.[2]

Decker was Governor of the East India Company from 1725 to 1726 and was its chairman in 1725. He was selected to be High Sheriff of Surrey in 1729. Also in 1729 he was Deputy Governor of the East India Company again, Governor from 1730 to 1733 and Chairman from 1730 to 1732.[2]


Decker's fame as a writer on trade rests on two tracts. The first, Serious considerations on the several high duties which the Nation in general, as well as Trade in particular, labours under, with a proposal for preventing the removal of goods, discharging the trader from any search, and raising all the Publick Supplies by one single Tax (1743; name affixed to 7th edition, 1756), proposed to do away with customs duties and substitute a tax upon houses. He also suggested taking the duty off tea and putting instead a licence duty on households wishing to consume it. The second, an Essay on the Causes of the Decline of the Foreign Trade, consequently of the value of the lands in Britain, and on the means to restore both (1744), has been attributed to W. Richardson, but internal evidence is strongly in favor of Decker's authorship. He advocates the licence plan in an extended form; urges the repeal of import duties and the abolition of bounties, and, in general, shows himself such a strong supporter of the doctrine of free trade as to rank as one of the most important thinkers in the early development of economic science.[3]

Death and legacy[edit]

Decker died on 18 March 1749. He had a son who died young and three daughters,[2] but only two daughters married:

He had no surviving male heir and the baronetcy became extinct. His fortune and estates passed to his surviving daughter Catherine, and then to her son Richard FitzWilliam, 7th Viscount FitzWilliam.


  1. ^ John Burke, Sir Bernard Burke, Bernard Burke (1841). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and Scotland. Scott, Webster, and Geary. p. 155. Retrieved 25 September 2018.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b c d "DECKER, Sir Matthew, 1st Bt. (1679-1749), of Richmond, Surr". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  3. ^ Nevin, Seamus. "Richard Cantillon – The Father of Economics". History Ireland. pp. 20–23. JSTOR 41827152. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. ^ 22 George III cap. 59 "An Act for vesting in the Crown certain hereditaments at Richmond in the county of Surrey belonging to Catherine, Viscountess FitzWilliam...."
  5. ^ Burke's Peerage 1833 4th Edition Vol. 2 p,519
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Richard Harnage
Charles Mason
Member of Parliament for Bishop's Castle
With: Charles Mason
Succeeded by
William Peere Williams
Bowater Vernon
Honorary titles
Preceded by
John Wall
High Sheriff of Surrey
Succeeded by
Samuel Kent
Baronetage of Great Britain
New creation Baronet
(of London)