Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hibbert, George

HIBBERT, GEORGE (1757–1837), collector and merchant, son of Robert Hibbert, a West India merchant, was born at Manchester in 1757. He was educated at a private school kept by a clergyman named Booth first at Liverpool and afterwards at Woolton. He settled in London as junior partner in a West India house, eventually becoming the head of the firm. He was alderman of London from 1798 to 1803, and from 1806 to 1812 was M.P. for Seaford, Sussex. He was a lucid and forcible speaker, and supported the whigs. At meetings in the city of London he moved the resolutions which led to the imposition of the property tax in 1798, and again those which forced its repeal in 1816. In conjunction with Robert Milligan, he was mainly instrumental in originating and maturing the schemes for establishing the West India Docks. He was also chairman of the West India merchants until 1831, and agent for Jamaica. In the foundation of the London Institution in 1805 he was most active, and was its president for many years.

He was elected F.R.S. in 1811, and F.S.A. in 1812. He was a patron of art and a collector of pictures and books, and formed a large collection of exotic plants at his house at Clapham. In 1829 he succeeded to the estate of R. Parker at Munden, near Watford, Hertfordshire, and removed there; but the size of his new residence necessitated the disposal of the greater part of his literary and art treasures. The sale of his library occupied forty-two days, and the catalogue fills 482 pages. He published in 1807 ‘The Substance of three Speeches on the Abolition of the Slave Trade.’ As a member of the Roxburghe Club he edited for that body in 1819 Caxton's translation of Ovid's ‘Metamorphoses,’ with a preface by himself.

He died at Munden House on 8 Oct. 1837, and was buried at Aldenham. He married Elizabeth Margaret, daughter of Philip Fonnereau, esq. His portrait and that of his wife were engraved by Ward after Hoppner. Another portrait of Hibbert by Sir Thomas Lawrence hangs in the board-room of the East and West India Company.

[Gent. Mag. January 1838, pt. i. p. 96 (memoir), and July 1829, p. 64 (sale of his library); Evans's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, ii. 200; Baker's Memorials of a Dissenting Chapel, p. 90; Cussans's Hertfordshire, ‘Dracorum,’ p. 268, and ‘Cashio,’ p. 179.]

C. W. S.