Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Family Business

While researching a totally different money trail on another blog, Quixotic Joust, the author/blogger  (i.e. me, Linda Minor) came across a point of intersection with the research being done currently for Where the Gold Is, and it rang a bell. That linking point was the Inniskillen Dragoons, a military regiment that shared links between the British government's presence in India during the Opium Wars era and also intermarriage with the banking family of Alexander Brown, whose sons operated the Brown Shipley company as well as being partners in their father's bank based in Baltimore. James Brown later became the senior partner in the New York investment bank set up around 1825 called Brown Brothers, which just over a century later merged with capital infused by sons of railroad tycoon E.H. Harriman.

In America 1825 was the year the Erie Canal opened and opened up new trade routes into what was then "the West," areas such as Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. Just as American business boomed, Britain was going through a devastating financial crisis that year, just a decade after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Alexander and Sarah Benedict Brown's son was James Clifton Brown, who married Amelia Rowe Brown:
  1. Douglas Clifton Brown (b. 1879), married to Violet Cicely Kathleen Wollaston. Violet was Grace Brown Hargreaves' granddaughter; James Clifton Brown and Violet's mother, the former Anne Hargreaves, were first cousins. Named Viscount Ruffside, Douglas Clifton Brown served as Speaker of the House of Commons from 1943 to 1951.
  2. Another son of James Clifton Brown—Edward Clifton Brown—became a partner in the Brown Brothers London office in 1899.
Arbuthnot in India
Anne had married a military man, Frederick Eustace Arbuthnott Wollaston, whose grandfather, Sir Alexander Dundas Young Arbuthnott, had fought in the Napoleonic wars—at Copenhagen in 1807, the capture of Antwerp, and in 1814 had escorted to the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia to England. He was 38 when he married in 1827. Their daughter, Josette, was born in France, and in 1850 she married another military man, Frederick Wollaston, a Major in the Enniskillen Dragoons. It was their son whom Anne Hargreaves chose for her husband in 1877.

Footnote: Intriguingly, Anne's marriage thus links the Brown family in a vague way to our previous research. You may recall these battles in which Admiral Arbuthnott was involved as occurring during the exact same time that John Murray "Jack" Forbes I was acting as consult and spy for President James Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams.

Violet Cicely Wollaston (daughter of Anne Hargreaves Wollaston) married Douglas Clifton Brown—second son of Grace Brown Hargreaves’ brother, Alexander, and Sarah Benedict Brown, daughter of James Brown (see the first Brown tree above)—thus uniting three branches of the Brown family, two in England and one in America. 

Sir Alexander Hargreaves Brown, who was born in 1844 (during England's second opium war with China), according to Kelly's Peerage, in 1876 married Henrietta Blandy, whose father Charles R. Blandy, was a wine merchant in Madeira, an island in the Atlantic, west of Portugal and Morocco. Two years earlier her sister had become the wife of the famous electrician who had met the Blandy family while engaged in laying the Atlantic Cable.

The island of Madeira had been a huge producer of sugar, using slave labor, late in the 15th century, but shifted to wine production by the 17th century. The defeat of Napoleon resulted in ceding the island to Britain in 1807, but it was returned to Portugal in 1814, while the British government kept its eyes on the strategic area through consuls, one of whom was Captain David Holland Erskine, who was in contact with Charles R. Blandy in 1862 concerning a claim against the Confederacy for destroying cargo belonging to him. Erskine died in 1869.

The pattern that emerges when we look closely at the sibling attachments of the Hargreaves children indicates that Sir William developed a strong connection through Grace Brown Hargreaves and her husband to military and Crown civil servants, whose role was to protect the British Empire’s investments during the late 18th and the 19th centuries. One after another of the sons and husbands of daughters was an officer in one of His Majesty’s Regiments. The Wollaston name was tied to the Inniskilling Dragoons, and the Arbuthnot(t) family stemmed from even higher rank in its closeness to royalty and, we would assume, to Royal Family investments.

The Royal Exchequer, we recall from history, felt forced to turn their eyes to the Far East in the attempt to siphon off a greater return from the East India Company’s charter. In 1784 the India Act was passed by Parliament to create a Board of Control to oversee the company and eliminate the reasons for previous corruption and bribery scandals (as well as reports of torture and rape) involving Company officials. This rings a bell with some of Erik Prince's shenanigans, does it not? After Blackwater scandals, the company was forced to change its name and go into deeper hiding.

But the most significant result, visible only in hindsight, was in giving these civil servants and soldiers the opportunity to observe first-hand how the Empire and its contractor, the Honourable East India Company, operated the lucrative opium trade. That knowledge would be stored away in their collective conscience for future reference. 

It is worthwhile to peruse the Contents of the public domain book, The Register of Letters, etc.: Of the Governour and Company of Merchants of London Trading Into the East Indies, 1600-1619, to gain a glimpse of the metaphor described in a previous blog post about global family networks. In 1600 Queen Elizabeth had commissioned the royal adventurers to explore and bring back wealth to sustain the government, as did James I in 1604. Note, for example, this fascinating entry: "Letters Patent exempting spices and drugs sold by the Company for re-exportation from the operation of the statute for the well garbling of spices, 9th August, 1606." A century later the contractors would be complaining that the requirement that they clean and garble spices was too "oppressive and vexatious," requesting that the government assume that role, saying that it would benefit the public and should therefore be paid for by the public rather than the businessmen.



The American Browns

Alexander’s linen trade did so well in Baltimore, that his two youngest sons moved to Philadelphia to set up a bank, primarily for the convenience of clients in Baltimore who wished to have an agent in Philadelphia to purchase manufactured goods there on their behalf. William, stationed in England, set up a separate partnership with his brothers for the dry goods trade in Liverpool, but also opened a London bank with a partner named Shipley to facilitate payments through the financial center.

It was the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 which resulted in New York’s becoming the dominant commercial and financial center in America and which inspired James Brown to set up Brown Brothers & Co. there. John A. Brown remained in Philadelphia, but retired in 1839, James to consolidate the Philadelphia concern with his New York office. Back in Baltimore, Alexander worked with the second son George beginning in 1827 in organizing the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Alexander died in 1834 and George retired in 1852. His son George Stewart Brown replaced him in their business interests in 1865, along with a partner, his sister's husband William H. Graham, whose son-in-law Benjamin Howell Griswold, Jr. joined the firm in 1904.
John A. Brown and George Brown sold their shares in 1840 to their brothers, William and James, leaving James the head of American operations, which also expanded to Boston during this period. More economic troubles in 1857 caused the firm to increasingly focus on banking operations and to ease out of importing and exporting completely. The two brothers shared power until William's death in 1864, and control passed entirely to James. In 1868 new articles of partnership were drawn up. By this time, William's sons had died, his grandsons were too young, and only two of James's sons had enough experience to run the business, making it necessary to bring in outside partners and thus jeopardizing the Brown family's control of the firm. Reorganized, however, Brown Brothers was now better suited to a changing world. Its credit business became so lucrative that the partners contributed outside money to maintain sufficient working capital. When William's grandson, Alexander Hargreaves Brown, became a partner in 1875, not only was family control restored, but a major portion of William's estate returned to the firm, helping Brown Brothers to prosper in the final decades of the 19th century. [Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 45. St. James Press, 2002.]
Moving from the British to the American family, we find that the oldest son in Baltimore, George Brown, succeeded his father at the Alex. Brown & Son bank and helped to finance much of the Baltimore infrastructure, including building the first railroad in America. When George died, his wife, Isabella McLanahan Brown—the granddaughter of an Irish-American who had served as U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania—donated funds for a new Presbyterian church in Baltimore, which to this day is still called the Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church. 

Elkridge Fox Hunt Club
Their second son, George Stewart Brown, was in charge of the bank until his own death in 1890, and was then succeed by his son, Alexander. George Stewart Brown’s major interest had been the founding of the Elkridge Fox Hunting Club in Maryland, which brought him into contact with the wealthy Anglophiles on the Southeast Coast, some of whom had relocated to Baltimore from Philadelphia, the original U.S. Capitol, and still had family back in Pennsylvania.


Alexander’s wife, for example, Bessie Montague, not only came from a long line of aristocrats from Virginia, but her father and brother headed a company in Baltimore which acted as agents for two London-based insurance companies. It was Bessie’s family from which Mrs. Wallis Simpson (later known as the Duchess of Windsor) claimed descent.

B. Howell Griswold, Jr.
Upon Alexander’s death, the Baltimore bank management passed to his son-in-law, Benjamin Howell Griswold, Jr., descendant of Matthew Griswold and Anne Wolcott, two of the most distinguished families in Connecticut. The branches of their family trees are not only inextricably interwoven with the most powerful names in Yale’s Skull and Bones hierarchy, but over the years have taken on an increasingly German connection, with a distinctly fascist-prone outlook.

The Griswold papers betray a strong distrust of power in the hands of commoners not bred to rule. This distrust exhibits itself in promoting ever greater secrecy in the government’s financing mechanism, which is slightly easier to detect from an examination of the other Brown family bank—Brown Brothers & Company—which would merge with the Harriman brothers’ bank in 1931.  

Rev. Alonzo Potter, Howard's father
During the first century of the bank’s existence, it was merely a brokerage operation in which all four Brown brothers were partners, though it was under the management of James, the youngest of them. Besides his eldest daughter, who married her cousin William in Liverpool, another daughter, Mary Louisa, married a man named Howard Potter, and their son, James Brown Potter, would become a partner in both Brown Brothers & Co. and Brown, Shipley & Co. Potter was a descendant of some of America's most noted Episcopal bishops.

From his marriage in 1879, a most strategic connection would subsequently arise when his daughter, Anne Urquhart Potter in 1901 married James Alexander Stillman, grandson of the founder of Citibank.  After Stillman’s death in 1944, Anne married Fowler McCormick, a descendant of the famous McCormick reaper family.  It was just after 1900, in fact, that the brokerage firm took on more of a private banking role—locating profitable investments for wealthy clients.

We find some of these names reappearing at the time the W. A. Harriman & Co. investment bank was merged in 1931 with that of Brown Brothers of New York and Philadelphia. When E. H. Harriman's youngest daughter, Carol Averell Harriman Penn Smith became a widow in 1929, she soon married W. Plunkett Stewart, who had been a horseman at the Green Valley Hunt Club in Maryland. Stewart's daughter, Doris Lurman Stewart, in 1931 married William Potter Wear, the first cousin of George Herbert (Herbie) Walker, Jr.

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