Abel Smith (1717–1788)

Abel Smith (1717–1788)

Abel Smith (1717–1788)

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Abel Smith (14 March 1717 – 12 July 1788) was a British Member of Parliament and banker.

Smith was the son of a wealthy banker in Nottingham, also called Abel Smith (c. 1690-1756), and followed him into the same business. (By the end of the century Smith's Bank was one of the biggest in England). He entered Parliament as member for Aldborough in 1774, and later also represented St Ives and St Germans. These were all pocket boroughs, and Smith may well have had to pay considerable sums to the proprietors to secure his seats; later a proportion of the family wealth was devoted to buying the Smiths a couple of pocket boroughs of their own, and by the early 19th century his son, Lord Carrington, could nominate the MPs at both Midhurst and Wendover.

Smith seems to have become an MP as much with the business advantages in mind as with any high political ambitions. Brooke quotes him as writing, shortly before he was first elected in 1774, "I see many solid advantages accruing to my family from a seat in Parliament, the best of which, the article of franking , will save a very considerable expense in so extensive a business as that I am engaged in." Although he supported the government, his first two speeches in the House of Commons were both attacks on the government for the way in which they had allotted subscriptions for government loans, in each case referring to occasions when his own firm had been excluded.

He married Mary Bird (c. 1725-1780), and they had...
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