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Richard Rigby

(1722-1788), Politician; MP for several constituencies

Sitter in 1 portrait

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Richard Rigby, by James Sayers, published by  Charles Bretherton - NPG D9008

Richard Rigby

by James Sayers, published by Charles Bretherton
etching, published 6 April 1782
NPG D9008

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Jay Robinson

14 March 2019, 13:15

This is the "Notorious Second Richard Rigby" of Mistley Hall near Manningtree in Essex.
Here is some information about his family predecessors, and him:
Edward Rigby a linen draper of London bought an interest in the Estate of the Earl of Oxford in 1680 and when the Earl died in 1703 a dispute over the his affairs was settled by Act of Parliament such that Edward Rigby received the Mistley Estate which included many local Halls and Farms.
Edward Rigby was succeeded by his elder son Richard who went into finance, made a fortune out of the South Sea Company (he was a factor for the Company and Provost Marshal of Jamaica in the early 1700s. A provost marshal was responsible for law enforcement in a British colony). He had income from interests in slave plantations in Antigua, Grenada and Jamaica. He traded in sugar, cocoa and coffee. He settled in Mistley where he built a mansion (Mistley Hall), a new wharf, brick kiln, lime kiln etc. He bought land and property in Tendring Hundred for £4,911. In his 1730 will he directed that £300 be set aside for 6 almshouses, if possible near the new church. But it was not until 1778 that 12 almshouses were built in the area between the Thorn Inn and the church (only the Mistley Towers remain of the old church designed by Robert Adam). His will also left money for his widow to complete the construction of Mistley Hall. When he died, part of his estate was the Plantain Garden River plantation in Jamaica worth £1400 per annum.
When he died aged 46, his son, the second Richard Rigby (1722 - 1788) was only 8 years old.
Richard Rigby (February 1722 – 8 April 1788) in the portrait was the only son of Richard Rigby of Mistley Hall, by his wife Anne (born Perry, an Antigua heiress), who died in February 1741. He was born at Mistley. He went on the Grand Tour aged 21 and then launched into Society. Horace Walpole, Garrick and the Prince of Wales and many others stayed at Mistley Hall. 1745 he became MP for Castle Rising and later for Sudbury and attached himself to Frederick Prince of Wales. His parliamentary Patron was the Duke of Bedford (under a lasting obligation to Rigby who had rescued him from a murderous mob at the Lichfield races in 1752) who later made him his secretary and spokesman in the Irish Parliament, he became Vice-Treasurer for Ireland 1765, and later Paymaster of the Forces, June 1768 to Mar 1782, under George III. George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 1738 – 29 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death in 1820.
The Duke of Bedford died on 14 Jan. 1771 (cancelling in his will Rigby's debt to him of £5,000).
Three contemporary descriptions of his character during his 43 years in parliament as an MP are in
At the time that he was paymaster-general it was acceptable to use puplic money in his hands to his own advantage. He made significant use of this resource, so that the chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord John Cavendish, moved that in future the paymaster-general be paid a fixed salary and be precluded from using the balances in his hands to his own advantage. He was required to pay interest on the money, and to repay some of it. But when he died the balance he owed to the public still amounted to £150,000.
He died 1788 and was buried in the family vault at Mistley. By 1783 he held property in 13 parishes and Rochefoucauld could write in 1784 that "Mistley is a very pretty place consisting of rather more than 50 houses, that are so neat and well built, that it is obvious at a glance that they all belong to one man", he also describes the harbour to which the whalers are fixed, a warehouse, shipbuilding yard and lime kiln faced wih brick and made into the shape of a fort, the trade of the place wholly created by Mr. Rigby.
Information about Rigby's very eventful life can be found at:
In 1774 he asked Robert Adam to prepare a design for a sea-bathing pavilion but the plans were never executed, though a start was made with the Swan Fountain which still remains beside the High Street.
In 1776 Adam was instructed to re-model the Church. Adam also designed the Hopping Bridge. Remains of the village built by Rigby are to be seen in the High Street between Mistley Towers and Swan Fountain and The Green.
Richard Rigby built a village of fifty houses, several granaries, warehouses, a large malting-house, and the spacious quay. He constructed conduits of pure water brought from the neighbouring hills, not only for supplying the hall and park, but the inhabitants of his new village. His new church was finished in 1777.
The Notorious Second Richard Rigby:
When the Notorious Second Richard Rigby died a lot of his properties had to be sold to meet his commitments.
Lt. Col. Francis Rigby inherited what was left of Mistley Estate, in 1801 much more was sold and in 1827 Col. Frances Rigby died, leaving the estate to his daughter Frances, wife of Lord Rivers. In 1844 Mistley Hall Estate was sold in lots and the Hall demolished.

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