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The Quaker Gouldney Family
A brief survey showing over 100 years of capital accumulation based on Colonial Plantations, Slavery and War

Thomas Gouldney 1620-1694

He was the son of Gabriel Gouldney, a prosperous clothier of Chippingham. Thomas was apprenticed to Theophilus Betheland a Bristol grocer in 1637. He was probably attracted to Bristol because it was a thriving port with 'a flourishing trade to the West Indies' where his father had 'trading interests'.

Gouldney completed his apprenticeship in 1646 - made a freeman of the city and set up business as a grocer. He married Mary Clements, daughter of a Bristol Merchant, and they lived in High Street, near Bristol Bridge.

A neighbour of Thomas Gouldney was Dennis Hollister, also a grocer, who was a dissenter. Dennis Hollister was a Baptist until he joined the Quakers in 1653. Hollister, it is thought, encouraged Gouldney to become a Quaker.

Both Thomas Gouldney and his wife Mary became active Quakers.

On Christmas day 1661 Gouldney was one of the Quaker shopkeepers who stayed open to trade in direct defiance of the City Corporation and was sent to prison for the offence.

Gouldney was a member of the small committees the Bristol Quakers set up to oversee their affairs.

Despite the 'sufferings' that the Gouldney family had to undergo as Quakers Gouldney prospered as a trader. In 1674 he bought a large, expensive country estate at Elberton - 10 miles from Bristol.

In 1685 Gouldney, amongst others, was fined £200 for refusal to take an oath. This fine was eventually paid by his son, Thomas Gouldney II.

By 1688 the Corporation was encouraging the building on the Bristol's castle grounds (the castle having been demolished after the English Revolution). Gouldney bought sites for four houses on Castle Green for 200. As part of the payment the Corporation to in account 50 of the money he had paid as a fine just 2 - 3 years earlier.

Thomas Gouldney II (1664 - 1731)

He was the son of the above Thomas Gouldney, born in 1664 and also a Quaker.

1685 he pays his father's fine of 200.

1688 he is given the Freedom of the City

1694 he aquires a country house in Clifton. The Manor of Clifton, at this time, belonged to the Society of Merchant Venturers.

169 Thomas' father dies and he inherits the family's business and town houses in College Green. In this year he is listed as a 600 freeholder at his town house.

1703 He inherits a 'considerable fortune' from his father-in-law, Thomas Speed.

1707 Gouldney backs Abraham Darby in his iron factory in Cheese Lane, Bristol. This financial arrangement continues when Darby moves to Coalbrookdale. In 1713 Darby mortgages half of his Coalbrookdale concern to Gouldney for a loan of 1,700. In 1718 Gouldney owned 8 of the 16 shares in the now named, Dale Company, these are worth 200 each. Gouldney acts as agent, money collector and banker for the company

1708 He is the main backer of the Woodes-Rogers Expedition with 36 shares in this investment each costing 103 10s. He joins in partnership with the City's establishment. His fellow partners include; ex-mayors, aldermen, city clerks, sheriffs and other wealthy merchants. The Woodes-Rogers Venture consisted of two ships; the Duke and the Duchess, which were to 'go out as Private men of War and not as trading ships...'. The main object was to capture the two Spanish treasure ships which left South America twice a year to bring back plundered Aztec gold to Spain.

In April they captured the Assention with 50 - 60 Africans on board. On April 12th they attacked the town of Guayaquil (population 100,000) set fires going and captured 4 barques. On the 23rd they stormed the town and accepted 25,500 pieces of eight in return for not burning down the town.

In total they had captured 20 ships and one of the treasure ships, on board of the Duke there were three large chests containing gold dust, plate, money and pearls. On the Duchess there were 4 chests of pearls, plate, gold and precious stones. They also had maps which were extremely valuable in exploiting the South Americas. Thomas Gouldney II, Quaker, had doubled his investment.

Thomas Gouldney III

Also a Quaker.

At the age of 21 he was joining his father, Thomas Gouldney II, on visits to Coalbrookdale, inherited 400 under the will of his grandfather, Thomas Speed, and he owned 2 shares in the Dale Company. He provided a half or one third of the capital required by the company's expansion from time to time.

1739 War is declared with Spain; Gouldney accounts showed deliveries from Coalbrookdale of large consignments of guns and cannon and casks of shot along with pots, pans, kettles and cast iron items for steam engines. Some of these guns were sold direct on the quay to privateers or merchantmen. Gabriel Gouldney, Thomas Gouldney III's younger brother, paid just over 260 for guns and shot for the privateer the Union, of which he was part owner. Thomas and Gabriel Gouldney and their brother-in-law John Ball sent some shipments of guns, etc., 'at adventure' to New York, Boston and the West Indies.

1752 Thomas Gouldney III becomes the Managing Director of the bank, 'Gouldney, Smith and Co' in Corn Street.

Sources on the history of the Gouldney Family