William Marsh (1755-1846) Banker based in London
Miniature portrait of William Marsh possibly by the artist John Wright
Born: 12 February 1755, christened 6 March 1755 at St Olave, Hart St, London and died 1 January 1846, aged 90, buried 9 January 1846 at St Mary Magdalene, Gillingham.
Son of: George Marsh, commissioner of the Navy, and Ann Marsh (nee Long, 1720-1784).
1. George Marsh, Proctor in Doctor's Commons (1750?-1790).
2. Anne Marsh (18 February 1760 - 11 August 1777).
3. Samuel Mead Marsh (16 June 1751 - 10 July 1751).
William married firstly: Amelia Marsh (nee Cuthbert) (1765-1793), 27 October 1785 in St Mary's, St Marlebone, London, daughter of Arthur Cuthbert (1734?-1788) and Sarah Cuthbert nee Hopkins (1744?-1777) of Woodcote Hall, Surrey.
William married secondly: 15th November 1794, Frances Graham (1770-1805), daughter of John Graham Esq (1741-1775) and Mary Graham nee Shewen or Shewen (1737?-1798).
William married thirdly: in 1811, Elizabeth Tresilian (1769?-1838), daughter of Leonard Tresilian Esq.
William had issue by Amelia Cuthbert:
1. Arthur Cuthbert Marsh (1786-1849) who married Anne Caldwell (Marsh-Caldwell) (1791-1874) daughter of James Caldwell (1759-1838) and Elizabeth Caldwell (nee Stamford) (1754-1831).
2. Amelia Marsh (21 December 1788 - 26 August 1861).
3. George Marsh (1790 - 30 July 1868).
4. Madame Anne Gabiou nee Marsh (1792 - 1870) who married Monsieur Gabiou de Chanceaux.
5. Sarah Marsh (17 March 1793 and died 14 August 1793).
William had issue by Francis Graham:
6. Francis Mary Marsh (14 August 1797 - 2 May 1818).
7. William Marsh (18 October 1795 - 10 September 1824) who died on the day the bank crashed. Surprisingly he died of natural causes and it would appear completely unconnected with the fall of the bank.
8. Mary Marsh (1798-1839). Born 9 December 1798 and died 6 March 1839. Buried 14 March at St Mary Magdalene, Gillingham, Kent.
9. Georgiana Nelson Marsh (1801-1861). Born 7 January 1801 and died 24th March 1861.
We know of William from the following sources:
1. His diary for 1824 covering the crash of the family bank. Also the list of creditors.
2. A collection of letters relating to Ann Marsh-Caldwell (William's daughter in Law).
3. The book "A Handbook of London Bankers", by F G Hilton Price, 1876.
4. The Complete Newgate Calendar, Vol. V.
5. Books about Nelson sometimes make reference to George Marsh (the Commissioner) and his son William Marsh (the Banker).
6. A record in the National Portrait Gallery, London, of a portrait of William by Lemuel Francis Abbott sold at Sotheby's in April 1975.
7. Various letters and documents from various sources.
8. Memorial inside St Mary Magdalene, Gillingham, Kent.
9. "History of the Ancient Family of Marsh" by Joseph J. Green, Archivist and Genealogist, 1903, revised to date by Wm. Ernest Marsh, of Marston, Bromley, Kent, 1912.
10. Report on Marsh & Co by Robert Wilkinson, 1825.
11. Proceedings of the case of forgery against Henry Fauntleroy 1824.
12. Diary of William's father George Marsh.
13. List of William Marsh's collection of paintings.
William Marsh (1755-1846) Banker of Knightsbridge in the County of Middlesex, then of York Gate, Regents Park, England.
William Marsh lived quite an incredible life. He was married 3 times and had 9 children and managed to outlive all 3 wives and 5 of his 9 children. His father George Marsh, Commissioner of the Navy, had set William up initially in a business that fulfilled naval contracts. This is covered in George Marsh's diary. This business prospered greatly with the expansion of the Navy in the late 1700s. One spin off of the business was that part of it operated as a prize agent selling off foreign boats captured by the Royal Navy. This operation progressed on to become a bank which came to handle the savings of many of the rich and famous of the day, including Horatio Nelson. The Marsh family were close friends of Horatio Nelson and Lady Nelson later became godmother to William's daughter, Georgiana Nelson Marsh.
The bank was recorded in the London Directory of 1797 as 'De Vismes, Cuthbert, Marsh, Creed and Co.' so presumably the part of the operation that became a bank was founded some time before this (possibly founded 1792). The partner by the name of DeVismes was probably Gerard DeVisme (1725-1797). The partner by the name of Cuthbert, would have been Alexander Cuthbert who was the brother of Arthur Cuthbert who had been the father of William's first wife Amelia. Henry Creed had been a life long business partner of William's father George Marsh . In the early 1800s Nelson referred to the bank as Marsh & Creed. Later partners included Sir James Sibbald (died 1819?), Josiah Stracey, Henry Fauntleroy and George Edward Graham who was the brother of William's second wife Frances.
In the 1790s the bank was based at 6 Berniers St (near Oxford St), London which had previously been Arthur Cuthbert's London business address. In 1824 the bank was still based at Berniers Street and was generally referred to as Marsh & Co. Times were difficult for banks in the early 1820s and the bank was forced to close in 1824 after a major fraud was discovered having been carried out by William's partner, Henry Fauntleroy. Much of this is recorded in William's diary for 1823-24 and in his list of creditors . Henry Fauntleroy was found guilty and was hanged for it. The question that was left unanswered was how much had the other partners known about what Henry had been up to? It would appear that the bank had been insolvent possibly for more than 10 years. Henry Fauntleroy had not made any personal gain from his fraud but instead had used the money to keep the Bank afloat.
By this time William Marsh had been in his elderly years and had very much reduced the hours that he worked at the bank. As a result William had been able to live off the money generated by the bank but after the crash he was able to plead that he knew nothing of the forgery that had taken place. George Edward Graham had just carried out what ever instructions Henry Fauntleroy had given him and so appeared to have had very little knowledge of how the bank even worked.
To date I have not come across any banknotes from Marsh & Co and this is probably because London based banks used Bank of England notes. Provincial or county banks all had a London bank which acted as its agent and lender of last resort. I have found a Five Pound note from 'Torpoint Plymouth Dock' John Alexander Snow Rowe & Co. This is quite interesting as it states 'Promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of Five Pounds at Messers Marsh, Sibbald, Stracey, Fauntleroy & Stewart, Bankers, London'. It is not dated but appears to be from the period 1800-1810. Does anyone out on the internet know anything about John Alexander, Snow, Rowe & Co?
After the crash of 1824 the bank was taken over by Sir Claude Scott and was then called Sir Claude Scott Bart, Williams & Co. They traded from temporary premises at 26 Holles Street, Cavendish Square, London. In 1826 the firm moved to 1 Cavendish Square. The bank was known as Sir Claude Scott Bart, Dent & Co from 1827; Sir Claude Scott Bart & Co from 1829 to 1847; and as Sir Samuel Scott Bart & Co by 1847 (despite the death of Sir Claude Scott in 1830). In 1894 the firm was acquired by Parr’s Banking Co & the Alliance Bank Ltd of Warrington and London.
William seems to have owned a number of properties in London and in 1829 still owned the following:
No 38 Sloane Street, No 23 Norfolk Street, No 25 Norfolk Street, No 13 Sloane Square. In 1840 he bought (with his daughter, Georgiana Nelson Marsh) a property known as No 11 York Gate. A collection of documents including a number of letters relating to this are held at the Staffordshire Record Office 4229/1/3/1. No 11 York Gate seems to have been used as a town house for all the family up until 1861 when Georgiana died and the property was sold. Another property that he owned was Willie House near Farnham in Hampshire but this was presumably sold after the bank crashed in 1824.
Being a very rich banker William Marsh could afford to buy anything that took his fancy. He built up a considerable art collection during his life, all of which was sold off after the crash of the bank in 1824.
There is a record of an auction on the premises of Rectory House, Orpington, Kent, 26 April, 1825. A cellar of about 4000 bottles. A select library, embracing the Works of some of the best Authors, including the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Boydell’s Shakespeare, together about 1200 volumes; a sideboard of elegant plate, weighing upwards of 1000 ozs; comprising two pair of double dishes; four sauce tureens, four dozen table spoons and four dozen folks, four dozen dessert spoons, and two dozen folks, six pair of table candlesticks, two waiters, soup and sauce ladles, three pairs of salts, coffee biggin, bread basket, excellent plated articles and several sets of china and richly cut glass, etc.
What has survived of his personal belongings include one plate with his crest and one silver spoon again with his crest on the handle. One of his books has also survived with his bookplate inside the front cover.
In the National Portrait Gallery archive there is a record of a portrait of William Marsh by Francis Lemuel Abbott (c1760-1802) in a similar style to that of his father's (George Marsh). William's dates are recorded on his portrait as being 1756-1846. Lemuel Francis Abbott also painted a portrait of William's wife Amelia the whereabouts of this portrait is also unknown.
A note in the Staffordshire Record Office (4229/1/3/5/5) records him dying at Cheltenham.
There appears to have been another William Marsh living in London around this time. This other William Marsh was born 26 November 1767 and died August 6 1844. He married Frances Webb who was born around 1774 and died Jan 18 1859. Some of their decendents and/or relatives were: Marion Hurst David nee Marsh (b. 1869), John Marsh (1812-1878), Harriet Carpenter Smith nee Marsh (1812-1899), John ? Marsh (1837-1905). This William Marsh is not a known relative but a small miniature portrait of him shows him to bear a striking likeness to the above William Marsh and it can be assumed that they are possibly distant cousins. The fact that he had miniatures painted of himself and his wife would indicate that he also came from a family who had money.
There is also a third William Marsh who was a bookseller. His ticket placed on the inside of a book (1824) states 'William Marsh Bookseller & Stationer 145 Oxford Street'.
Coin with inscription relating to the crash of the Marsh Bank