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The Silk Road to Leytonstone  By David Boote

In 1753 it was made much easier to become a member of the Levant Company and its management harder for a few to control.  The Bosanquet family continued to participate.  An account book for the last years of Samuel Bosanquet’s life, 1758 to 1760, shows transactions with weavers and London mercers (dealers in high quality cloth) 7.  

Samuel Bosanquet is thought to be responsible for adding a portico and parapet to Forest House and having the rear façade rebuilt 7 8.   

The Samuel Bosanquet of the next generation (1744-1806) lived in Forest House with his younger brother William (1746-1813).  He retained the family interest in trade with the Ottoman Empire and wrote to his Halab representative David Hays from 1765 to 1806 7.  In 1770 Samuel Bosanquet told David Hays that the Turkey trade would be profitable by his standards if money was not tied up “when full four years is required to bring things home” which was a long time to be at the risk of war in Europe and the vicissitudes of the individuals involved 9.   Samuel Bosanquet II became Deputy Governor of the Levant Company.  Strangely, an obituary in the ‘Gentlemen’s Magazine’ stated that he had never engaged in business on his own account.  He was from 1774 7 also a Director of Bank of England, and its Governor 1791-93.  Samuel was for 40 years a Director of the Royal Exchange Assurance Company and had banking connections.  Samuel was a friend of Sir John Soane who was the architect of changes at Forest House of a kind not now known.  Samuel was a Commissioner of the Port of London.  He was a Director of the French Hospital in 1782, which was in Bath Street, Finsbury, near to the present junction of Old Street and City Road 10.  

The Bosanquets had been staunch supporters of the Hanoverians and would have been counted as Whigs but in 1792 Samuel was Tory enough to chair a meeting of City merchants and bankers declaring its support for William Pitt’s government.  During the war with France Samuel Bosanquet was lobbying for Royal Navy protection of British commercial interests at Smyrna, a longstanding alternative to Halab for western European merchants.  He probably talked about trade with Turkey at Forest House, but I can say no more than that.

A striking memorial was designed by Sir John Soane to commemorate Samuel Bosanquet II in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Leyton, but it was demolished in 1957, as was Forest House in 1964.  The Bosanquet family’s principal home from 1806 8 was Dingestow Court near Monmouth 7 and the family sold Forest House in 1889 8.

7  ‘The Story of the Bosanquets’ by Grace Lawless Lee

8  An Account of the House and Estate known as Forest House and for a time as Goring House in Leyton and Walthamstow, Essex, by Frederick Temple, re-published by Leyton & Leytonstone Historical Society

9  Aleppo and Devonshire Square : English traders in the Levant in the eighteenth century by Ralph Davis


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