Samuel Garbett

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Samuel Garbett
Died(1803-12-05)5 December 1803
Resting placeSt Philip's, Birmingham
RelativesCharles Gascoigne (son-in-law)

Samuel Garbett (1717– 5 December 1803[1]) was a prominent citizen of Birmingham England, during the industrial revolution, and a friend of Matthew Boulton. Historian Carl Chinn argues[2] that he:

stood alongside Boulton as one of the key figures responsible for Birmingham's rapid expansion into one of the world's leading industrial towns.

Garbett's education extended:

[no] further than writing and accounts; but he was a man of great acuteness of genius and extent of understanding.[3]

Garbett was employed by a London merchant named Hollis, as his agent for purchasing goods in Birmingham.[2] In that role, he came:

into notice and rank among his townsmen; and the more he was known, the more he was esteemed.[3]

He married Anne Clay (d. 1772) of Aston in August 1735.[1]

He then made his fortune as a merchant in his own right, before entering partnership with Dr John Roebuck to set up a laboratory in Steelhouse Lane where precious metals were refined and assayed; a manufacturing centre for sulphuric acid in Prestonpans in 1749; and, with others, the Carron Iron Works, in Scotland, in 1760,[2] in which the two Birmingham men each held a 25% share.[1] He also chaired, from January 1788, a Birmingham committee against the slave trade.[2]

His eldest child and only daughter Mary married Charles Gascoigne in 1759, and in 1765 Gascoigne became a partner in the Carron works, having been manager of Garbett's nearby turpentine factory, Garbett & Co., since 1763.

Garbett was involved in the creation of Birmingham Assay Office in 1773,[2] and was the first chairman of Birmingham's Commercial Committee, forerunner of successive Birmingham Chambers of Commerce,[2] as was a member of the committee that raised funds to create Birmingham General Hospital.[2]

He was declaredbankrupt in 1782.[2] Boulton encouraged him to re-establish his business in Birmingham, which he did successfully.[2]

At his death in 1803, his estate was over £12,000, albeit with some creditors not discharged.[2] He was buried at St Philip's Church (later Birmingham's cathedral), where he had been a church warden.[2] Matthew Boulton wrote of him:

I have always found his principles unfailingly just, honourable and liberal.[4]

Throughout his life, Garbett played a prominent part in local politics and affairs, including police proposals and the development of Birmingham's canals.[5] During the Birmingham riots of 1791, it was at his house in Newhall Street that the town and country gentry held their emergency meetings.[6] His political lobbying in general, and correspondence with Shelburne in particular, make him a significant figure in national politics.[7]


  1. ^ a b c R. H. Campbell, ‘Garbett, Samuel (1717–1803)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 29 July 2012
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Chinn, Carl (23 January 2010). "Friend of freedom and city's industry". Birmingham Mail. Archived from the original on 28 March 2015. Retrieved 29 July 2012 – via HighBeam.
  3. ^ a b Alexander Carlyle, autobiography, cited by Chinn
  4. ^ M. Boulton to W. Davies, 12 Dec 1803; Matthew Boulton MSS
  5. ^ John Money, Experience and identity, Birmingham and the West Midlands 1760-1800 (Manchester, 1977).
  6. ^ TNA HO 42/19/109.
  7. ^ John Money, op.cit.; John Norris, Shelburne and reform (London, 1963); T M Norris, "Samuel Garbett and the early development of industrial lobbying in Great Britain," The Economic History Review, 10(3) (1958), 450-460.

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