Sir Frederick Morton Eden (1766-1809)


Sir Frederick Morton Eden was born in Ashtead and was a pioneering social investigator and commentator on the conditions of the poor. He was the oldest son of Robert Eden, governor of Maryland, and his wife Caroline Calvert, sister of the last Lord Baltimore. His 'The State of the Poor' was published in 3 volumes in 1797.

Arms of the Eden family
Arms the same as Eden of West Aukland
Motto: Si Sit Prudentia ("If there be but prudence")

An article about Frederick Eden may be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography accessible via the Surrey Libraries website or directly at www.oxforddnb.com. The following notes are intended to provide supplementary details about his family together with particulars of local connections.

His father, Robert Eden, married the Hon. Caroline Calvert on 26 April 1765 at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, and Frederick was born, 13 June 1766 (to be named after his uncle, the 6th Lord Baltimore of Woodcote Park, one of the witnesses signing the register at his parents wedding). The birth is believed to have taken place in Ashtead House, on Farm Lane, a property rented by Robert Eden. The latter resigned his commission as a captain in the Coldstream Guards, 14 July 1766, and a second son, William Thomas, arrived on 13 April 1768 before the family embarked for Maryland so that Robert could be installed, in an act of nepotism on 1 August of the same year, as Governor of the Calvert's proprietary colony.

Robert Eden's daughter, Catherine, was born in Annapolis on 6 June 1770 and the Governor appointed Rev. Jonathan Boucher to the parish of St. Anne's, Maryland, 8 June 1772. Close personal relationships developed between Eden, Boucher, George Washington and members of their families: Rev. Boucher claimed to have written all of Eden's speeches, helped to revise the laws of Maryland, and to have prepared many papers for "the Council". Frederick, Lord Baltimore, had died, 14 September 1771, leaving many "complications" which caused Mrs Caroline Eden to return home with her children (on, brother in law, Captain Thomas Eden's merchant ship, Annapolis), 27 August 1772, to attend to business related to the Calvert estate. It seems she never went back to Maryland, probably because of increasing unrest that led to the American War of Independence. Boucher fled back to England on 23 May 1774 but the Governor held out until, in May 1776, being required to leave the Province and sailing for home the following 26 June. On his return, Robert Eden was created Baronet of Maryland in North America, 19 September 1776.

Apparently, Frederick Morton had been sent to Eton before going up to Oxford: whilst there, his father died, having returned to Annapolis seeking restitution, so that Frederick succeeded to the title as second baronet, 2 September 1784. Jonathan Boucher, who had kept in touch with the Edens, became vicar of Epsom during January 1785 and a letter addressed from the town survives, inviting Sir Frederick and his friend to come for Christmas 1786. After obtaining an MA at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1789, Sir Frederick was admitted to the Middle Temple before being called to the bar on 8 July 1791.

Frederick Morton Eden married Ann Smyth, 10 January 1792, at St George's Church, Hanover Square, to benefit from a generous settlement plus further advances of £2,000 from his father in law. Much money was expended by the newly-weds to set themselves up in considerable style (at number 12?) on the north side of Lincoln's Inn Fields. [FME is reported to have proposed laying out the fields as ornamental grounds which, one commentator suggested, should then be renamed "The Garden of Eden"]

Ann's father, James Paul Smith, died in 1797 leaving a will containing ambiguities over certain legacies with the residuary estate going to his youngest grandchildren, issue of Lady Ann and Sir Frederick Eden. Rev. Boucher (having advanced £1,000 of the money in question) advised that the case should be taken to Chancery and, as reported in "Eden v Smythe" 5, Ves.341, it was resolved eventually in FME's favour during March 1800.

Frederick Morton's father, Sir Robert Eden, was a horseracing enthusiast reputed to have been a considerable gambler. Following all the misfortunes over assets in Maryland and the latter's premature death, the family found itself in somewhat straitened circumstances (and Boucher, who had stood as security for Sir Robert, suffered a heavy loss). Dame Caroline had been very close to, and influential over, her elder son but she went to live abroad, in Paris and Brussels, for some years, which resulted in Boucher becoming FME's mentor (although one should not disregard the influence of an aunt on his father's side, Catherine Eden, who had married the Most Reverend John Moore, Archbishop of Canterbury). In 1794, whilst Eden was away working on the Northern Circuit, Jonathan Boucher is found writing with advice on research for the Magnum Opus - The State of the Poor - of which book an extract follows: -
EPSOM contains about 4,000 acres, of which 900 acres are downs, etc. Rent of land about £1 an acre. Land tax, generally assessed at net rental, at 2s. 1d. in the pound. The rental is £7,115. Wages of journey-men, tradesmen and servants the same as in London. Labourers in husbandry get 9s. to 10s. 6d. a week, and somewhat more during harvest. Piecework has become common lately. 238 houses pay tax, not more than 100 exempt. Prices of provisions as in London. Coal costs about 7s. per chaldron more than in London. The Poor have been farmed for more than 20 years; this reduced the rates by one-half and has kept them at about 2s. 6d. in the pound. The contractor receives £550 a year. The average number in the house is 60, never more than 75 or less than 45, but always highest in winter. They are chiefly employed in spinning coarse woollen or linen yarn, but their earnings are small.
Bill of fare: Breakfast--Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, broth; Tuesday, milk porridge; Thursday, Saturday, milk porridge or gruel. Dinner--every day, meat and bread. Supper--every day, bread and cheese or butter. Each person has a pint of small beer at dinner and supper. The provisions are plentiful, whole-some and good. In case of sickness the Poor' are attended by a doctor. The children are taught reading and catechism by one of the elder paupers. There are 3 friendly societies, with 127, 118, and 30 members. The two first have £1,250 and £500 in the 3 per cents. The third has only been founded 2 years. No member has ever applied for or received parish relief. 'Members of the first club pay 10s. 6d. entrance fee, 1s. 3d. and 3d. for liquor on monthly club nights. A yearly feast is held. Sick benefit is 10s. 6d. per week, except in case of permanent disablement, when 5s. 3d. per week is given for life. There is also an accident and a burial benefit. The second club allows 9s. and 4s. 6d.only.
Earnings and expenses of a gardener, who manages 3 gentlemen's gardens, finding seeds and doing all necessary work for £56: The seeds and labour he hires cost him £16, but as sexton and by odd jobs he earns £10, so that his income is from £45 to £50, a circumstance which has excited some envy. He is a remarkably sober, hard-working and inoffensive man, a member of a friendly society, aged 35, with a wife nearly of the same age, and 8 children (ninth expected). Expendi-ture: Rent, £4 4s.; bread, 13 quartern loaves a week, at 10d., £28 3s. 4d.; a joint of meat every Sunday, at 4s., £10 8s.; a pig bought to fatten, £5; breakfast tea, ¼lb. lasts a fortnight, 1s.; 2lbs. sugar a week at 9d., £5 4s.; butter, 1½lbs. a week at 15d.; cheese, the same, £5 4s.; salt, soap and candles, £2 8s. 4d.; a bushel of coal a week at 1s. 6d., £3 18s.; small beer, £2 12s.; shoes, which he cobbles himself, £2; clothes (much is given them), £4; medical attendance, mid-wifery, and inoculation, 10s.; schooling of one child (the rest at the expense of neighbours), 12s.; friendly society, 18s. Total, £75 1s. 8d. There is no reason to think this account exaggerated or in any respect mis-stated, and yet there is an evident surplusage of a very large sum beyond what he acknowledges he earns. Still, he says even ill this dear year he has not yet contracted much debt. An attempt has been made to compile a similar account of several other labourers in this parish, but the results were always an excess of expenditure, and were probably inaccurate.
Eden's diaries, kept from 1773 to 1805, contain various references to the Rev. Boucher, mentioning, for example, a stay in Epsom during 1795 when they visited Horton Lodge (the residence of Eden's mentally impaired aunt, Hon. Louisa Calvert Browning, relict of John Browning decd.) [LINK Frederick Calvert, 6th, and last, Baron Baltimore.]

Sir Frederick fathered 9 children of whom two died in infancy. Ironically, the eldest, (also called Frederick who became the third baronet) was killed, aged only 16, on 24 December 1814, in the Anglo-American war of 1812. He had been attached, as an Ensign, to 85th (Bucks Volunteer) Light Infantry, but, at the Battle of New Orleans, was struck and "horribly mutilated. He lived long enough to make his will and then died in a delirium of agony." Of the surviving sons, one succeeded as third baronet, and others became, respectively, Bishop of Moray & Ross and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, a Lieutenant General, and a Vice -Admiral (Commissioner of the Admiralty/ 2nd Sea Lord).

By 1802, FME was seeking a charter for a new insurance provider but he failed and so The Globe Insurance Company was incorporated in 1803. (Explaining why Sir Frederick went on to publish, in November 1806, a pamphlet, On the policy and expediency of granting insurance charters.) The company's office was set up, with the family in residence, on Pall Mall. There, on 3 July 1808, Lady Eden was delivered of her seventh son who was named Charles. A week later, another of her boys came home from boarding school suffering from scarlet fever and he passed on the infection to his Mother resulting, sadly, in her demise on 14 July. Sir Frederick Morton Eden survived her only until 14 November 1809, when he collapsed and died in the Globe's offices - at the same age, 43, as had his father and grandfather. [Some sources suggest, mistakenly, that he passed away in the Carlton Club but this was not established on the site of FME's house until 1835 in premises later destroyed by an air raid during the Second World War.] Lady Ann and Sir Frederick were laid to rest together in Ealing parish church.

As a footnote to history, Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, was Sir Frederick Morton Eden's great-grandson and he even contemplated incorporating "Maryland" into his title when ennobled. The late Prime Minister is said to have been so greatly influenced by his forebear's writings that he kept a copy of The State of the Poor available for reference throughout his lifetime.

Brian Bouchard © 2009
Member of Leatherhead and District Local History Society


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