Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Annesley, Alexander

ANNESLEY, ALEXANDER (d. 1813), legal and political writer, was a London solicitor and member of the Inner Temple. After many years' practice, by which he acquired a large fortune, he retired to Hyde Hall, Hertfordshire, and died there on 6 Dec. 1813. Annesley was a man of many accomplishments, paid repeated visits to the continent, and was an enthusiastic sportsman. In politics he followed Pitt. His works, which evince wide historical reading, are: 1. 'Strictures on the true Cause of the present alarming Scarcity of Grain and Provisions, and a Plan for permanent Relief,' 1800. The pamphlet was dedicated to Pitt, and attempted to trace the cause of the high prices of the time to 'the rage for accumulating wealth' which led the merchants to raise prices by arbitrarily restricting production. To meet the evil, Annesley proposed 'bounties on production rather than on importation, an excise on all grain, the establishment of public granaries and additional corn-mills.' He justly protested in behalf of the poor against the methods employed in enclosing common lands, and advocated a system of peasant proprietorship by colonising the common lands with superannuated soldiers and sailors, beginning as an experiment with the New Forest. 2. 'Observations on the Danger of a Premature Peace,' 1800. 3. 'A Compendium of the Law of Marine Insurance, Bottomry, Insurance on Lives, and of Insurance against Fire, in which the mode of calculating averages is defined and illustrated by example,' 1808, A brief history of English commerce and navigation forms the introduction to the treatise, and very full references are given to the leading law cases bearing on the subject. It is dedicated to John Julius Angerstein. Testimony to the usefulness of the book at the present time is borne by Mr. Cornelius Walford in his 'Insurance Cyclopædia' (i. 96) published in 1871. Annesley contributed largely to Tomlin's 'Law Dictionary,' and to the 'Edinburgh Encyclopædia.'

[Gent. Mag. lxx. 1270, lxxi. 58, lxxviii. 419-24, lxxxiv. 94, where a memoir may be found; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Annesley's Works.]

S. L. L.