ABSTRACT

WILLIAM BRAUND, the subject of this study, has nothing to distinguish him from anyone of the thousands of merchants who throve in eighteenth-century London. Hacton, his solid, well-built, mid-Georgian house in Essex, with its fine staircase, its square rooms of a size domestic rather than spacious, its heavy doors with their double bolts, its park and its well-stocked kitchen garden, gives an impression of sober prosperity and good husbandry. It is the property of a man who has done well, who knows and likes the pleasant life of the English country house, but who, when he comes to live it himself, has no intention of wasting his hard-earned wealth in profusion of living. Beyond this quality of commercial solidity he has left witness of few outstanding characteristics. A man may often be known by his books, but what remain of the brown calf volumes that once filled the shelves of his library are so much what might be expected that they give no indication of his character. In the fine eighteenthcentury library at Stubbers are to be found some of these books, which were scattered among his many nephews on the death of the favourite one, who was his heir; Tindal's Christianity as old as the Creation: or the Gospel a Republication of the Religion of Nature (1730); Dugdale's Monasticon (the second English abridgement of 1718, bought for £1 6s. 6d.); Locke's Works (the three volume edition of 1722), as well as those, rather surprisingly, of James I. For lighter reading there were Ben Jonson's Comedies and the second edition of Gay's Beggar's Opera. I In connexion with his business there is Beawes' Lex Mercatoria Rediviva (1752), for which he was a subscriber, and William Bolts' State of Bengal (1772), carefully marked in a way which indicates his side in the party disputes of the East India Company. Then, finally, in his last years when, an old man, he retired

to the life of a country gentleman, there are the works of Arthur Young, then at the height of their popularity; The Farmer's Letters (1767), The Northern Tour (1770), and Rural (Economy: or Essays on the practical parts of Husbandry (1770). They are a sober collection, less personal even than those of his still dimmer brother Samuel which may be found with them; for Samuel side by side with Carkesse's Rates of Merchandise bought Pope as he came out, liked translations from the French, the religion of nature, and the semi-scientific publications of that age, such as Ray's Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation, and Leybourn's geometrical and astronomical problems, Pleasure with Profit. In religion William was a member of the Established Church; in politics he passed the I745 test of Whiggism, for he signed the declaration of the London merchants that they would accept Bank Bills during the crisis caused by the Jacobite rising. His business associates, Brice Fisher and Linwood, were in touch with the Newcastle administration, but he had no such connexion. The only broadsheet found among his papers, To the Worthy Liverymen of the Free City of London [1754], appeals on the contrary to that Whiggish anti-ministerial ism so common among the mass of City merchants.