The Chamiers of Epsom
Owners of Fitznells & Batailles Manors, Ewell.
A mezzotint engraved by William Ward ARA and taken from a portrait by Joshua Reyolds c.1762
Anthony Chamier of Epsom, was a financier and government official, born of Huguenot stock on 6 October 1725. [An article about him may be accessed in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography via the Surrey Libraries website]. He is also described in 'Huguenot Exiles from France in the time of Louis XIV': -
"He began life as a merchant; Junius [a pen-name believed to have been adopted by Sir Philip Francis] insists that he was a stock-broker. It was not till after his 40th year that he entered upon political life. He was first the private secretary of the Earl of Sandwich in the Foreign Office; then Lord Barrington, Secretary at War, made him his chief clerk, and gave him the office of Deputy-Secretary at War in 1772. He became M.P. for Tamworth in 1774, and sat for that borough in the House of Commons till his death. In 1775 he became one of the under Secretaries of State, and this post he held for the rest of his life.
The great honours of Anthony Chamier's career were his being one of the original members of Dr. Johnson's Literary Club, and also a Fellow of the Royal Society. Such distinctions entirely relieve him of the contempt, in which Junius endeavoured to overwhelm him. The fact that Sir Philip Francis was furiously enraged at Chamier's being introduced into the War Office and promoted over his head, when he himself was a candidate for the secretaryship; and the clear evidences, that no one else both could and would have penned the attacks on Chamier in Junius' Letters, form the great proof that Junius was Francis. March 10th 1772 - 'For shame, my Lord Harrington, send this whiffling broker back to the mystery he was bred in. Though an infant in the War Office, he is too old to learn a new trade. At this very moment they are calling out for him at the bar of Jonathan's. Shammy! Shammy! Shammy! The house of Israel are waiting to settle their last account with him. During his absence things may take a desperate turn in the alley, and you never may be able to make up to the man what he has lost in half-crowns and sixpences already. March 23rd - I think the public have a right to call upon Mr. D'Oyley and Mr. Francis to declare their reason for quitting the War Office...They know nothing of the stocks, and therefore Lord Harrington drives them out of the War Office. The army is indeed come to a fine pass with a gambling broker at the head of it.'
On his first entering upon public life he had been saluted sneeringly by Junius as 'that well-educated, genteel, young broker, Mr Chamier.' But when the wrath of the elegant scribe came to its height, he asseverated [solemnly declared] that it was a 'frantic resolution' to give the office of Deputy War Secretary to 'Tony Shammy' and he pictured Lord Harrington referring a general officer for information to 'Mr Shammy'- 'little Waddlewell' - 'my duckling' - 'little three per cents reduced' - ' a mere scrip of a secretary, - ' an omnium of all that's genteel - the activity of a broker - the politeness of a hair-dresser', &c. &c. As Mr. Taylor [in his book 'The Identity of Junius with a distinguished living character'] remarks, 'sarcasm, argument and threats, all the topics that could dissuade, provoke, or terrify, were employed to remove Chamier. But all these efforts were in vain... Sir Philip found himself unable to stand against his antagonist, who not only possessed the qualifications necessary for advancing his own interest, but was backed with the influence of his brother-in-law, Bradshaw.' Mr. Chamier was married to Dorothy, daughter and co-heir of Robert Wilson, Esq., Merchant of St. Mary Axe, London, and her sister was the wife of Thomas Bradshaw, Esq., private secretary of the Duke of Grafton, and Secretary to the Treasury, and afterwards a Lord of the Admiralty."
From 1764 to 1767, the Chamiers had lived in 67/68 Dean Street, London, and they continued to maintain a house in town but also acquired country residences. During 1765, Anthony Chamier had purchased three sub-manors in Ewell, Fitznells, Roxley and Bottolphs, immediately commissioning Robert Adam, the most fashionable architect in Britain to draw up plans for a new building on the site occupied by 'Fennells Place'. These were not executed and that old manor house still exists on the Chessington Road. In the 1770's, Chamier bought another property on the Dorking Road, Epsom, from Samuel Sharp, citizen and surgeon of London (died 1778): dating from the first quarter of the 18th century, it had been described as "tho' but of small extent it is most conveniently set out and well finished". The property was associated with a row of elm trees and had probably been called "The Elms" (known to have been its later name) from that time. [Link to Rooth's House
In 1775, Robert Adam received another commission to design four ceilings for the Chamiers' Epsom house to which two large rooms were to be added. As described in 1801, the house became large and elegant with the additional rooms running the full depth of the property on each side. The stuccoed frontage had been ornamented with fluted pilasters and there were large Venetian windows in pavilions at each end, as depicted below from circa 1820.
This house was pulled down about 1825 but its replacement continued to be known as "The Elms" for at least another 100 years: somewhat remodelled, it still stands behind a high wall on the Dorking Road, Epsom, occupied by the Clock House Medical Practice.
Having become a founder member of the Literary Club in 1764, Anthony Chamier frequently entertained Samuel Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds at his home and the latter painted three portraits of him [12/1762, 1/1767 & 11/1777]. On 10 September 1779, John Wilkes daughter wrote from Epsom of her return "from a very agreeable visit at Mrs.Chamier's".
Chamier died in Savile Row, London, on 12 October 1780: his will dated 9 October 1780 described the Epsom house as "the capital messuage" in which he then dwelt. He was buried at St James, Piccadilly having left his property and estates in trust for his wife during her lifetime and then to a nephew, John des Champs, on condition that this beneficiary took the name and arms of the Chamier family.
Consequently, without delay, John des Champs took by royal licence and authority his maternal uncle's name and armorial bearings, as shown by an announcement in the London Gazette: -
"St. James's, October 21... The King has been pleased to grant unto John Des Champs, of the City of London, and his Heirs Male (pursuant to the Will of his Uncle Anthony Chamier, late of Epsom in the County of Surry, Esq; deceased) His Royal Licence and Authority to take and use the Surname of Chamier only, and to bear the Arms of Chamier, (such Arms being first duly exemplified according to the Laws of Arms, and recorded in the Heralds Office;) and also to order, that this His Majesty's Concession and Declaration be registered in His College of Arms."
By 1784, however, the devisees of Anthony Chamier [his widow, Dorothy nee Wilson, survived until 1799 when her demise is recorded to have taken place in Frith Street, Soho*] had joined in a sale of Batailles to Thomas Calverley .
J E Chamier
John Ezechial (des Champs) Chamier was actually resident in India then and for many years afterwards as shown by the following obituary: -
GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, VOLUME 151
JOHN CHAMIER, ESQ.
"Feb, 23, 1831. At his house in Park Crescent, John Chamier, Esq.
Mr. Chamier was born in London, about the year 1754, and placed at the Charter-house on the foundation, at the age of 10 years, having received a nomination from the late Queen Charlotte; who had distinguished Mr. Chamier's father, the Rev. John Des Champs, (de Marsilly,) with her particular favour from the earliest period of his quitting her native country, Mecklenburgh, and settling in England. This worthy Divine deserves, indeed, more than a passing notice, and we hope some day to be favoured with a brief memoir of his life. He commenced his career at Berlin, was chaplain to the Queen of Prussia, and tutor to Prince Henry, brother of the Great Frederick, who by his harsh and unprincipled conduct, and by the sanction which be openly gave to infidel doctrines, drove him from the court. On his arrival in Great Britain, where his fame as a preacher had preceded him, he was immediately appointed minister of the Savoy Chapel in the Strand, and afterwards presented to the Living of Pillesden, Dorset. His works, which are very numerous, were written entirely in the French language, and consist chiefly of Sermons, "Abrege de la Religion Chretienne", and "Cours de la Philosophic Wolfienne".
The family of Chamier is very ancient, and closely connected with some of the most historical names in the annals of Protestant France. Mr. C's maternal ancestor, Daniel Chamier, was fixed upon to draw up the Edict of Nantes, and is mentioned by Bayle (Dictionary, art. Chamier, vol. I,) as one of the most able theologians and statesmen of those stirring times.
The subject of this memoir was originally intended for the church, and was a contemporary at the Charterhouse with Archbishop Manners Sutton, the late Lord Ellenborough, and Bishop Majendie. The latter amiable prelate has often been heard to say, that he considered Chamier the best Latinist he ever knew; and, when speaking of his early education, used to observe that, although even as a boy he might be inferior in acuteness of mind and strong natural abilities to the future Lord Chief Justice, yet that in point of elegant scholarship and knowledge of ancient and modem literature he surpassed all his schoolfellows. There are in the possession of his family several beautiful Translations from Roman, Greek, French, and Italian authors, as well as many original compositions, displaying extraordinary taste and ability, which were produced by him before the age of sixteen. At that period, instead of proceeding to the University, it was thought advisable that be should accept a writership to India. There, from the year 1772 to 1805, he was employed in the civil service of the Company at Madras, and filled most of the principal situations in the political, revenue, and commercial branches, until at last he was appointed a member of the Council at that Presidency. Honourable as was his public life, his private virtues were equally conspicuous. Liberal and generous in the extreme, he shewed himself on all occasions a zealous patron and an active friend. In India patronage may be said to take a more munificent form than it does in this country; and Mr. Chamier's station in the Government enabled him to promote t he deserving efforts of many youthful aspirants for fame and fortune, who, but for his kind offices, judicious introductions, and pecuniary aid, might have languished in obscurity, or pined in want.
On his return to England, he settled in the parish of St. George, Hanover square, actively supported several of the public metropolitan institutions, became Treasurer of St. George's Hospital, and served the office of churchwarden, with Lord Amherst, in the year 1819.
Mr. Chamier retired early from the world, and confined himself for many years to the tranquil enjoyments afforded by a well-selected library, and a domestic circle devoted to his comfort and happiness. But though his habits and peculiarities in retirement were those of a philosopher and a man of science, it is deeply to be lamented that he did not yield to the advice of his excellent brother-in-law, Mr. Porcher, M. P. for Sarum, and his old and valued friends, Sir John Hippesley and Mr. Dick, not to withdraw entirely from public life, whilst be was in full possession of all his faculties, and of a greater portion of health than falls to the lot of one in a thousand, of those who have passed the best part of their lives in an Eastern clime. Had he permitted himself to be put in nomination a second time for the India Direction, there could have been little doubt of his success, as be was universally allowed to unite a perfect knowledge of business, and a talent for composition, with the most dignified and polished manners.
Having been early accustomed to mix in the best society, no man had more of what is emphatically called by our neighbours, le ton de la bonne compagnie. Although his features were far from handsome, and his countenance somewhat bordering on austerity, he was through life a decided favourite of the fair sex, and was one of the happy few who knew how to praise and compliment women, without humbling them by his praise. His views of Religion were of a very simple and elevated nature peculiar indeed as he advanced in age - but always consonant with the sentiments of a rational and enlightened Theology. Divinity formed a part of his studies, and he did not permit his descent (both by his Father's and Mother's title) from some of the fiercest Calvinists that ever breathed, to influence his religious opinions; for his leaning was more to the doctrines of Arminius than to those of the intolerant Reformer of Geneva. Grotius was his favourite author; and, like Leibnitz, he considered him as the best interpreter of Scripture at the period in which he wrote.
Mr. Chamier never courted literary reputation, but he was tempted at the solicitation of some scientific friends, to publish a Meteorological Journal about the year 1787, in one volume 4to. which has become exceedingly scarce.
His epistolary style was a model of perfection - easy, elegant, and playfully satirical, abounding in that pungent sort of wit for which his family has been long celebrated, . yet less caustic than his conversation, which occasionally to a stranger might appear tinged with spleen.
It was not till Mr. Chamier had completed his 75th year that he began to feel symptoms of decay. He had hitherto enjoyed an extraordinary length of uninterrupted health, to which the abstemiousness of his diet in all climates greatly conduced; but his bodily strength began now visibly to decline, and, his mind becoming daily more torpid and lethargic, his fine faculties suffered a partial eclipse some months before his decease.
About 1781 he took by roya11icense and authority, the name and armorial bearings of his maternal uncle, Anthony Chamier, Esq. F.R.S. Representative in several Parliaments of the Borough of Tamworth, and Under Secretary of State, who, dying in the year 1780 without children, left him sole heir of his property and estates. Mr. Anthony Chamier was well known in the literary and fashionable circles of his day, and was one of the original members of Johnson's Literary Club. He lived on terms of intimacy with the great Moralist; is often mentioned in Boswell's Life; and numbered amongst his friends Reynolds, Burke, Langton, Topham Beauclerk, and Goldsmith.
Mr. Chamier married Georgiana Grace, eldest daughter of Adml. Sir William Burnaby, Bart., and by her, who died May, 14, 1826, left issue four sons; Henry Chief Secretary to the Government at Madras; Frederick, Commander in the Royal Navy ; William and Edward, both in the Hon. East India Company's Civil Service at Bombay ; and four daughters: 1. Georgiana, married to Colonel Thomas Duer Broughton; 2. Emma, married to George Gowan, Esq.; 3. Caroline, married to Robert Edwards Broughton, Esq., Barrister at Law, and Police Magistrate in Worship-street; 4. Amelia, married to her first cousin through her mother, the Reverend George Porcher, of Oakwood, in the County of Sussex.
Mr. Chamier left two sisters: the elder married to the late John Mackie, M.D., of Southampton, of whom a memoir was published in our number for September; the younger to the Rev. Thomas Cave Winscom, B.D. Vicar of Warkworth, Northumberland."
Further particulars may be found at http://www.chamier-family.org
. and in Sir Bernard Burke's "A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain", Part I, 1852.
*Surrey History Centre Reference 880/1/2: - Probate (PCC) of the will dated 7 Nov 1795 of Dorothy Chamier of Epsom and of Westminster, widow; with codicil, same date. Simple monetary bequests, with household goods; residue of estate to her sister Elizabeth Bradshaw. Testified on 18 Mar 1799 as a true will by Elizabeth Garbutt of Chiswick, Middx, and Paul Malin of Lime Street, London. 23 Mar 1799.