Philip Metcalfe

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Philip Metcalfe
Philip Metcalfe by Pompeo Batoni.jpg
Portrait (c. 1766–1767), oil on canvas, by Pompeo Batoni (1708–1787), National Gallery Collections
Personal details
Born(1733-08-29)29 August 1733
Died26 August 1818(1818-08-26) (aged 84)
Brighton, Sussex
ResidenceHawstead House, Hawstead, Suffolk
OccupationMember of Parliament, Industrialist

Philip Metcalfe, MP, FRS, FSA, (29 August 1733 – 26 August 1818), was an English Tory politician, a malt distiller and a philanthropist.

The Metcalfe family were from Yorkshire of the Catholic faith and Royalists during the Civil war.

Family and early life[edit]

He was born in London on 29 August 1733 and christened in Much Hadham in Hertfordshire on 14 December 1733, second son of Roger Metcalfe[note 1] (1680 – 5 January 1744-5),[1] a surgeon of Brownlow Street[note 2] now Betterton Street, Drury Lane, London and Jemima Astley (born on 3 August 1703).[2] Metcalfe was named after his grandfather Sir Philip Astley (1667–1739), 2nd Baronet of Hill Morton. Jemima Metcalfe married afterwards to Henry Groome[note 3], a limen-draper of St Paul's, Covent Garden and who was also the Keeper of the Guildhall and a member of the Worshipful Company of Musicians.[4][5]

Mectalfe is said to have been the apprentice of Robert Jones (died in 1774), a wine merchant and East India Company director who became a member of Parliament for Huntingdon from 1754 to 1774. According to English painter and diarist Joseph Farington, Jones wanted Meltcalfe to marry Ann Jones (1747–1832), his only daughter and sole heir, she was still a minor when she chose instead to marry with a Marriage license a British officer, James Whorwood Adeane (1740-1802) at Marylebone on 5 March 1763. Through his brother Christopher, Metcalfe became involved with the Three Mills venture in 1759. From partner, Metcalfe will eventually become the head of the Three Mills distillery.

Business and parliamentary career[edit]

Metcalfe was the head of the firm Metcalfe and co, a West Ham distillery in Essex, the others partners were Metcalfe's brothers Christopher[note 4] and Roger, James Mure[note 5], James Baker[note 6], William Bowman[note 7], Samuel Jones Vachell[note 8] and Joseph Benjamin Claypole[note 9]. Metcalfe was a member of Parliament for Horsham from 1784. He represented Plympton Erle, Devon from 1790 to 1796 and Malmesbury Wiltshire from 1796. Of his parliamentary career, Metcalfe left few records, each times voting on Pitt side including Richmond's fortifications plan along the southern coast of England (27 Feb 1786) and stood with him on the most debated Regency Bill of 1789.


With the financial success brought by the gin trade, Metcalfe became a passionate art collector and was a patron of the Arts, among his friends and acquaintances were the writers Samuel Johnson,[11] Frances Burney, the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, the philosopher Jeremy Bentham and West India merchant and art collector Robert Fullarton Udny (1722–1802) of Udny Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland and later of Udny House at Teddington, Middlesex. He sat for two portraits that are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery: one by Pompeo Batoni and one by draughtsman and engraver artist William Evans (after Edward Scott's stipple engraving).

He was appointed an executor to Joshua Reynolds's will, along with Edmund Burke and Edmond Malone.[12]

In 1760 Metcalfe joined the Royal Society of Arts. In 1785, he was made a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, in 1786 and in 1790, under Reynolds's patronage, Metcalfe was elected a member of the Society of Dilettanti[note 10] and of the Royal Society.

Metcalfe was also a member of the Club.[14] and one of the co-signatories of the Round Robin sent to Dr. Johnson to implore him to revise his Epitaph on poet Oliver Goldsmith.[15]


The Clock Mill

Between 1815 and 1817 he erected a new mill, the Clock Mill, at the Three Mills, decorated with an inscription bearing his initials PM.

Alms houses at Hawstead

Metcalfe was noted for his benefactions to charity, he had erected at Hawstead in 1811 the Alms House for the benefit of the Aged and Deserving Poor.


Metcalfe was mentioned with his associate and kinsman James Baker and Jesse Ramsden in the correspondence between Abraham Pilling[note 11] and Evan Nepean.[17]

Later life[edit]

Metcalfe died a bachelor in Brighton, Sussex on 26 August 1818, aged 85.[18] and was buried a week later on 3 September 1818 in the north aisle of the parish church of St Nicholas.

At the time of his death, his estate was valued at £400,000. Metcalfe heir was his great-nephew Henry Metcalfe (1790–1849), son of Christopher Barton Metcalfe and Sophia Andrews.


The Arms are Argent, three calves passant sa.


  1. ^ English Jacobite James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater body was taken to Metcalfe house who then embalmed it, Metcalfe remove the heart and preserved it.
  2. ^ Named after Sir John Brownlow of St Giles in the Fields.
  3. ^ Born to Thomas Groome the younger, a tailor and a freeholder. Groome was christened in Gunthorpe, Norfolk on 4 November 1713 and died aged 77 years old. Groome was buried in St Michael Bassishaw, City of London on 11 May 1789. The marriage took place on 28 May 1745 in St Benet's, Paul's Wharf. Groome owned an estate in Hindolveston,[3] Norfolk.
  4. ^ Christopher Metcalfe's son Christopher Barton married Sophia Andrews of Bulmer in Essex daughter of Mr and Mrs Andrews depicted in a famous painting by Thomas Gainsborough, Robert Andrews's other daughter Sarah was Samuel Jones Vachell first wife.
  5. ^ Mure was the son of William Mure,[2] one of the baron of the Scots exchequer.
  6. ^ Baker was a native of Norwich,[6] he supervised the workmen who built the House Mill (1776) on the site of an earlier mill. In Metcalfe's will, Baker was appointed one of the trustees. One of his sons, John Baker was one of the deponents[7] in a complaint brought against Ralph Dodd's London Distillery Company, the case was taken by Sir Vicary Gibbs, the Attorney General, the Crown hired Sir William Garrow (The Baker family Counsel). Baker died worth £40,000, British film producer Reginald Poynton Baker was his great-great-grandson.
  7. ^ collateral ancestor of MP Godfrey Nicholson.
  8. ^ Vachell son of William Vachell of Coptfold Hall in Essex, a friend[8] of Sir Joshua Reynolds, Vachell attended Reynolds's funeral.[9]
  9. ^ Claypole (1788–1853) born in West Ham, Essex, was Master of the Worshipful Company of Distillers (1849).[10] He and his son Joseph were witness to Baker's will (1822), Charles Martin Senior, a solicitor and clerk of the Worshipful Company of Vintners and of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers was one of the trustees.
  10. ^ treasurer (1794–1808) and secretary (1797–1808).[13]
  11. ^ In 1770 a prize was awarded by the Royal Society of Arts to Pelling for his works on optical glass.[16]


  1. ^ "Pompeo Batoni, a complete catalogue of his works", by Anthony M. Clark, published by Phaidon, 1985, p.307
  2. ^ a b "Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry", volume 2, p. 859.
  3. ^ "Will of Henry Groome of Saint Michael Bassishaw , City of London", proved 16 May 1789, PROB 11/1179/167, National Archives.
  4. ^ "Apollo's Swan and Lyre: Five Hundred Years of the Musicians' Company", by Richard Crewdson, published by the Boydell press, p.159
  5. ^ "Freedom admissions papers, 1681 – 1925, London, England, London Metropolitan Archives, COL/CHD/FR/02, December 1761"
  6. ^ "The Poll for members of parliament for the City of Norwich, taken March 18, 1768", printed by W .Chase, Norwich 1768.
  7. ^ "Joint stock companies with transferrable shares, Report of the arguments, upon the application to the Court of king's bench, for leave to file an information against mr. Ralph Dodd", Printed for J. M. Richardson, 23 Cornhill opposite the Royal Exchange, 1808, John Baker of Straford in West Ham, Essex, clerk to Philip Metcalfe.
  8. ^ "Boswell's Life of Johnson", edited by George Birkbeck Hill, revised by Lawrence Fitzroy Powell, published by Clarendon Press 1971, p.483.
  9. ^ "Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, with Notices of Some of his Contemporaries", by Charles Robert Leslie and Tom Taylor, published by John Murray London 1865, Volume II, p.633.
  10. ^ "The Distillers' Company, A Short History", by Michael Berlin, (1996).
  11. ^ Courtney, William Prideaux (1910). "A Friend of Dr. Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds". Eight Friends of the Great. London: Constable. pp. 14–34.
  12. ^ "The Correspondence of Edmund Burke", volume VII, January 1792 – August 1794, p.74
  13. ^ "National Portrait Gallery mid-Georgian portraits, 1760–1790", by John Ingamells, published by National Portrait Gallery, 2004, p.338.
  14. ^ Samuel Johnson, A Biography, by Peter Martin, Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, London, 2008, p.500
  15. ^ "The Life of Thomas Coutts, Banker", by Ernest Hartley Coleridge, published by John Lane, 1920
  16. ^ "The Royal Society of Arts, 1754–1954", by Derek Hudson and Kenneth W. Luckhurst, published by John Murray 1954, p.117
  17. ^ "Letter from Abraham Pelling setting down, at Evan Nepean's request, his thoughts on the fragility of French defences on the Channel coast", 20 May 1793, folio 395, Reference HO 42/25/166, National Archives
  18. ^ "Philip Metcalfe, Esq, late of Hill street, Berkeley Square, London" (Obituary), The Gentlemans's Magazine, from July to December 1818, p. 379.


  • The Early Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, Volume V, 1782-3.
  • Life of Samuel Johnson, Volume 4 by James Boswell.
  • Eight Friends of the Great, by William Prideaux Courtney, published by London Constable and Company, 1910.
  • The Three Mills, Brombley by Bow, Tide Mills, part three, by E.M Gardner with a foreword from Sir Godfrey Nicholson, MP, 13 March 1957.
  • The Three Mills distillery in the Georgian era, by Keith Fairclough, published by River Lea Tidal Mill Trust Ltd
  • Philip Metcalfe (1733–1818), the MP and industrialist who built the Clock Mill, by Keith Fairclough.

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir George Osborn, Bt
James Crauford
Member of Parliament for Horsham
With: Jeremiah Crutchley
Succeeded by
Timothy Shelley
Wilson Braddyll
Preceded by
John Stephenson
John Pardoe
Member of Parliament for Plympton Erle
With: The Earl of Carhampton 1790–1794
William Manning 1794–1796
Succeeded by
William Adams
William Mitchell
Preceded by
Samuel Smith
Peter Isaac Thellusson
Member of Parliament for Malmesbury
With: Peter Isaac Thellusson
Succeeded by
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Member of Parliament for Malmesbury
With: Peter Isaac Thellusson
Succeeded by
Claude Scott
Samuel Scott