Joseph Denison (c.1726–1806) was a banker and wealthy landowner. Only patchy details about his origins in West Yorkshire are available but he came from a poor background. He travelled to London and started a career in banking quickly amassing a large fortune sufficient to buy the expansive estate of DenbiesDenbies is a large estate to the northwest of Dorking in Surrey, England. A farmhouse and surrounding land originally owned by John Denby was purchased in 1734 by Jonathan Tyers, the proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens in London, and converted into a weekend retreat. Denbies is a large estate to the northwest of Dorking in Surrey, England. A farmhouse and surrounding land originally owned by John Denby was purchased in 1734 by Jonathan Tyers, the proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens in London, and converted into a weekend retreat. , in Surrey, originally built up by Jonathan TyersProprietor of New Spring Gardens, later known as Vauxhall Gardens, a popular pleasure garden in Kennington, London. Proprietor of New Spring Gardens, later known as Vauxhall Gardens, a popular pleasure garden in Kennington, London. of Vauxhall Gardens notoriety. The purchase of other landholdings followed considerably extending the portfolio of properties owned.

Twice married, his first marriage did not produce any issue but with his second wife he had three children, a son and two daughters. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth, became the last mistress of King George IV and his son, William Joseph, continued to add to the family fortune by following his father into banking cementing the social status of the family.

Life


Denison had come from a simple background; his parents were of low ranking and little means in West Yorkshire.[1] Scant information is available about his roots but it is likely his father was the cloth merchant Joseph Denison who lived at Burmantofts Hall in Leeds. If so, his mother would have been Rebecca (née Wainman), his father’s first wife.[2]

Definitive information is not available as to exactly how his fortune was made but seemingly he travelled to London where he became associated with the Heywood family of bankers, later becoming a partner in the company.[2] Richard Vickerman Taylor described the immense wealth accumulated by Denison as being gained through “unabated industry and the most rigid frugality”.[3] Five years after purchasing DenbiesDenbies is a large estate to the northwest of Dorking in Surrey, England. A farmhouse and surrounding land originally owned by John Denby was purchased in 1734 by Jonathan Tyers, the proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens in London, and converted into a weekend retreat. Denbies is a large estate to the northwest of Dorking in Surrey, England. A farmhouse and surrounding land originally owned by John Denby was purchased in 1734 by Jonathan Tyers, the proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens in London, and converted into a weekend retreat. – the estate built up by Jonathan TyersProprietor of New Spring Gardens, later known as Vauxhall Gardens, a popular pleasure garden in Kennington, London. Proprietor of New Spring Gardens, later known as Vauxhall Gardens, a popular pleasure garden in Kennington, London. – in 1787, the Seamere estate, near Scarborough, Yorkshire, was added to his portfolio after he acquired it from the Duke of Leeds.[2][4]

Family


Dennison was married twice; first to Sarah who died in 1768 with whom he had no children. His second wife, Elizabeth (1738/9–1771, née Butler), was the daughter of a Lisbon merchant or hatter from Southwark. The couple had a son, William Joseph, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Anna Maria. By the time of the Regency era the family were the personification of prosperity and social status.[2]

His older daughter, Elizabeth (1769–1861), married Henry Burton Conyngham on 5 July 1794 although she continued to have affairs and had several lovers including Tsar Nicholas I and Lord Ponsonby. It was as the last mistress of King George IV that she gained notoriety and influence.[5] William, his only son, followed his father into banking and continued to add to the family wealth; when he died on 2 August 1849 he was likely in the top ten of wealthiest British businessmen with a fortune of around £2.3 million. In tandem with his banking profession, he pursued a political career sitting in the House of Parliament for thirty-eight years.[6]

Legacy


Denison died on 12 December 1806[2] and the estate and all other properties were inherited by his son.[7] He is buried at Bunhill Fields with his second wife; a Grade II listed monument is on their tomb.[8]

Citations



Bibliography


Brayley, E. W. (1841). A topographical history of Surrey.
Historic England. (n.d.). Monument to Joseph Denison (1396509). Retrieved from https://HistoricEngland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1396509
Reynolds, K. D. (2004). Conyngham [née Denison], Elizabeth, Marchioness Conyngham (1769–1861), royal mistress. In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Vol. 1). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/45483
Rubinstein, W. D. (2004). Denison, William Joseph (1770–1849). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online). Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/7491
Taylor, R. V. (1865). The Biographia Leodiensis. Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.
Thorne, R. G. (n.d.). Denison, William Joseph (1770–1849). History of Parliament. Retrieved from http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1790-1820/member/denison-william-joseph-1770-1849
Wilson, R. G. (2004). Denison, Joseph (c.1726–1806). In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online). Oxford University Press.