Image: portrait of George Prescott, 1780s © RBS 2018
George Prescott (c.1712-90) was a British merchant, politician and banker. He was a founding partner in Prescott, Grote, Culverden & Hollingsworth.
Background and early life
George Prescott was born in around 1712, the second son of George Prescott and his wife Anne. His father was a merchant in Chester and was also a partner in several leadmining enterprises in Wales.
After completing his schooling, George Prescott was sent by his father to work for a French Protestant merchant, Monsieur Raguoneau, in Livorno, Italy. After ten years in the city, and with an accumulated wealth of £5,000, George Prescott went into business for himself as a trader. During his time in Italy he formed links with a number of the prominent English noblemen who lived or spent time in Rome.
George Prescott continued in the Italian trade after his return to England, and in 1746 was a member of the committee of London merchants who appealed to the government about the increasing number of trading ships being captured.
George Prescott served as whig member of parliament for the seats of Stockbridge, 1762-7, and Milborne Port, 1772-4.
In parliament, he was known for his extensive first-hand knowledge of commerce and finance. He was regularly consulted on matters related to his areas of expertise, and spoke on business connected with international trade.
On 1 January 1766 George Prescott joined with the Hamburg merchant Andrew Grote, William Culverden and John Hollingsworth to form the banking partnership Prescott, Grote, Culverden & Hollingsworth. Their new firm’s success was greatly aided by Prescott’s many trading contacts from Italy, as well as his political status and connections.
He remained in the partnership until his death in 1790.
Home and family life
George Prescott’s first wife died in childbirth. His second wife, Mary, was the daughter of Jacob Elton, a merchant of Bristol, and the sister of Isaac Elton, one of the original partners of Bristol Bank. George and Mary had three children together.
In 1763 Prescott bought the manor of Theobalds, Hertfordshire, from the Duke of Portland. There, Prescott built a new Georgian mansion, Theobalds Park, which became his family residence. In 1782 he also purchased the nearby manor of Cheshunt.
George Prescott died on 21 April 1790, aged 78. He was buried five days later in a vault he had designed for himself, on the south side of the churchyard at Cheshunt.
He was succeeded as senior partner in the bank by his son George William Prescott, who had originally joined the firm in 1773.
Related publications and online sources
- Prescott’s Bank (privately published by National Provincial Bank, 1966)
- ‘George Prescott’ on History of Parliament Online