Member of the UK Parliament
Whig MP for Launceston (Cornwall) 1796 - 1832
Born: Narborough 1765
Died: Sussex 9th July 1842; buried at Narborough
James was the oldest son of John Brogden, a merchant, of Leadenhall Street, London and Clapham, Surrey, and his wife, Mary. He spent a year at the public school, Eton College, in 1780-81.
He married Hannah, born about 1776 and who died in Sussex on 2 February 1855.
James probably worked in partnership with his father, John, who was a Russia merchant and director of the London Assurance Company and in business from 1757 to 1793. The company may have
been started by James' great uncle, James, who appears to have retired and left the running of the business to John. John died in 1800.
By 1806 James was being described as a "respectable Russia merchant." He was judged to know the "country and the climate" of Russia well and had spent a year in Russia in 1787/8. He also
undertook a North European tour in 1791. Thorne records that he fell out with his business partner, Pleschell on his brother Henry's account, and that he withdrew from active participation,
whist remaining a director. He was a director of the Rock Life Assurance Company from 1812 and became chairman in 1816. Thorne gives no further information, either about the business or
about brother Henry. Trade directories list the business address as Leadenhall (sometimes 143 Leadenhall) Street, London and after 1767 as 1 (sometimes 6) Russia Court, Leadenhall Street.
The directories also sometimes refer to the address of John Brogden as Clapham, London. Another variation is a trade directory reference to John Brogden as "Consul of the Russia Company"
with an address as the "Merchant Seaman's office over the Royal Exchange, London." The South Wales newspaper, The Cambrian, reports James Brogden's comings and goings to his farm at Trimsaran,
Carmarthenshire, the sale of grain and animals and his generosity in giving to charitable causes.
The History of Parliament Trust's publication, "The House of Commons 1790 - 1820," edited by RG Thorne* gives a long and detailed resume of James' parliamentary career. James was elected
in 1796 to represent Launceston in Cornwall, supported by the Duke of Northumberland. He frequently spoke on commercial matters (including on the mining industry in which he had a stake in
Carmarthenshire) and not always to the Duke of Northumberland's approval. At one point his voting with the opposition led him to consider quitting the House of Commons but his "friends kindly prevented"
him from doing this. He voted for parliamentary reform in the 1790s and was considered friendly to the abolition of slavery. Perhaps these views were part of the reason for Arthur Shakespeare MP
striking him in 1807 and calling him a "damned villain." Shakespeare later apologised.
Back on friendly terms with the Duke by 1812, James gained a seat on the Treasury Board following a recommendation by the Duke to the Prince Regent who lobbied the new prime minister, Lord Liverpool.
(Liverpool's predecessor as prime minister, Spencer Perceval, had the unique distinction of being assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons.) James Brogden gave up the seat on the Board in
1813 when he became Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee where he remained for 13 years until he felt obliged to resign, claiming innocence, over his involvement in a mining company scandal.
James left parliament in 1832 and died some ten years later.
Sephen Massil of the Sir John Soane's Museum, found a reference to the sale of James Brogden's art collection in an 1812 catalogue:
"A catalogue of a select and singularly valuable collection of paintings, the property of a gentleman of fortune ... which will be sold by auction, by peter Coxe, in Maddo Street, Hanover Square,
on Friday, the 12th of June, 1812 ..." The catalogue referes to 17 lots.
(See Burton B. Fredericksen, "Index of paintings" 1988, iii, p36, sale no. 1005)
There remain a number of unanswered questions about James. Where does his branch of the Brogdens fit with the others? Did he marry early enough to have children? What can be discovered about great
uncle James and brother Henry? Are there descendants to be found today?
For the article James Brogden in Russia 1787 - 1788 which refers to his correspondence at the time to his father and sister, click here.
- *This history was published by Secker and Warburg for the History of Parliament Trust in 1986.
- Members of Parliament were not salaried until 1911 so MPs such as James would have needed substantial private or business incomes to support their parliamentary careers and
a London address that was convenient for their attendances in the House of Commons.