Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fleet, John

FLEET, Sir JOHN (d. 1712), governor of the East India Company, was, according to Luttrell, by trade a sugar baker, but according to Le Neve a wine cooper. He was elected sheriff of London on 11 Oct. 1688, and alderman soon afterwards, having in the interval been knighted. He was also chosen captain of the city horse volunteers in July 1689, and lord mayor on 1 Oct. 1692. His accession to the latter office was celebrated by a pageant called 'The Triumphs of London,' written by Elkanah Settle and performed in the Grocers' Hall on 29 Oct. He represented the city of London in parliament between March 1692-3 and 1705, with the exception of the short parliament which sat from 30 Dec. 1701 to 2 July 1702. On 26 April 1695 he was elected governor of the East India Company. It was a critical epoch in the history of the company, the charter having become legally forfeit in consequence of the interest due to the government having fallen into arrear. The government was itself in financial straits. A rival company had also been projected which offered the government a loan of 2,000,000l. at 8 per cent., while the best offer which Fleet was authorised to make on behalf of the old company was an advance of 700,000l. at 6 per cent . The new company was accordingly incorporated on 5 Sept. 1698, and the old company found it necessary to effect an amalgamation. This was carried out on 22 July 1702. Fleet was appointed, on 11 July 1702, one of the commissioners to execute the office of lieutenant of London, and on 14 March 1704-5 he was elected president of St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He married twice, his second wife being the relict of Newcomb, the king*s printer. He died in 1712 and was buried at Battersea.

[Luttrell's Relation of State Affairs, i. 468, ii. 581, iii. 466, iv. 376, 605, 721, v. 193, vi. 186; Le Neve's Pedigrees of Knights (Harl. Soc.), p. 417; Anderson's Hist. of Commerce, ii. 222, 236; Lists of Members of Parliament (Official Return of); Lysons's Environs, 1792, i. 35; Brit. Mus. Cat. 'E. Settle.']

J. M. R.