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John Gregory Shaddick (1775-1823) Celebrated English Sportsman


Benjamin Marshall exhibited this portrait of J. G. Shaddick at the Royal Academy in 1806. He embarked on a lengthy hunting tour in Britain the year the painting was exhibited. In fact, Marshall’s portrait may commemorate this event. Standing in a field after a successful hunt, Shaddick holds his trophy—a male pheasant—in triumph, surrounded by his shooting horse and two hunting dogs. Marshall was a well known painter of both portraits and sporting subjects, with such prestigious patrons as the Prince of Wales. Like his fellow artist George Stubbs, Marshall studied equine anatomy to achieve a greater sense of realism in his paintings.

Chris Tweed, a descendant of the Culmstock Shaddocks, and a resident of London, found newspaper articles featuring John Gregory Shaddick (1775-1823), who was a fellow Londoner as it turns out. The portrait paints John Shaddick as a gentleman with a lot of time on his hands and money to spend for his amusement. Chris's newspaper clippings paint a little detail into his private life. 

This clipping is from the "Reading Mercury," July 25, 1814:

Mr. J.G. Shaddick has declined to accept the hand in marriage of a Maiden Lady in Middlesex, with estates in that county and Northhampshire, free of all encumbrances, or settlements of Sixty Thousand Pounds per Annum. Mr. S will not sport through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire during the approaching season as was expected.

So extremely averse are the members and the distinguished Cabinet of J.G. Shaddick, Esq., to persons of cringing habits, that those ladies to whom they have devised, and bequeath their real and personal estates, have no power, by the instigation advice of their able and discerning Statesmen, to dispose of them at their deaths, by Will, deed, or otherwise, to any individual, whom they are, or maybe personally acquainted.

This is obviously a gossip column in the local newspaper in town of Reading in Berkshire, and may repeat gossip heard about the snub to one of its local ladies. I feel impelled to defend our distant cousin of unknown genealogy. (All we know at this point is that he was born to John and Mary Shaddick May 7, 1775 in St Andrew, Holborn, London, England.) The sum of money attributed to the Maiden Lady in Middlesex is an obvious exaggeration as the income of the wealthiest artistocrats in England at this time was £30,000 a year. In Pride and Prejudice, the novel by Jane Austen, Mr. Darcy's income was only £10,000 a year and he lived on an enormous estate.

He is obviously quite wealthy to be sporting about the country and to have attracted the interest to a "Maiden Lady" of so vast a fortune. There is no record of an earlier marriage that would have made John a widower at age 39. But I suspect it is not John Shaddick's extended bachelorhood and his determination to remain so that has barbed the tongue of this gossip columnist. It is 1814 and John's unknown background and considerable wealth suggests he was a member of the nouveau riche both envied and detested in provincial towns like Reading. 

Ursula Ann Martin eventually discovered that John Gregory Shaddick's father was also clerk in the Six Clerk's Office of the Chancery court.


 So JG was following in the footsteps of his father. His father's obituary says that "John Shaddick, Esq." was one of the sworn officers of the High Court of Chancery."  He inherited a considerable fortune from his father. Another clipping actually makes the worth of J.G., "350,000 pounds sterling," a matter or record. That was a huge fortune in those days. It would make him eligible for the hand of the British aristocracy, with one prospect rumored to be the daughter and sole heiress of a "late worthy Baronet, in the vicinity of Berkeley-square."

His family lived in the St. Andrew parish in Holburn, London. He had a brother Thomas Shaddick born Nov. 27, 1777.  He had a sister Maria baptized Jan. 22, 1783. A second sister Sophia baptized 26 Aug 1779 died as an infant. A third sister, also named Sophia, was born March 31, 1781. His mother Mary was born in 1746 and lived to the age of 78, dying in 1824, a year after her son. It must have been heart breaking to see her son descend into mental illness. She was living on John's Street in Holborn. Maria Shaddick possibly married William Ball or Batt in 1807 in Marylebone, London. 

His father lived from 1750 to 1818. He was born in Clayhanger, Devon to Thomas and Mary Shaddick. You get an idea of how small a family we are from the fact that a Shaddick family historian had actually investigated the story of John Gregory Shaddick and his ancestors in Clayhanger, and he provides some interesting details of John Gregory's life.  

The family historian was Clifford Ramiro Shaddick (1887-1956). He was born in 1887 in Wales. He was in the navy during the first world war as a merchant seaman. He lived in London for awhile, met Mary Spence and married her in 1917. He was a civil engineer. He died in 1956 at Swanage, Dorset. He assumed he was related to the Shaddicks of Clayhanger because of the spelling of the surname. 

He found the will of John Shaddick of Clayhanger in the Library of the British Museum, dated Aug. 14, 1745. This was John Gregory Shaddick's grandfather. 

It is apparent that John the grandfather had done quite well in his life working as a mason. He gave to his wife two dwellings, with out houses, gardens and orchards for the term of her life. He left money to his sons Thomas and George (born May 6, 1734), with the stipulation they would inherit his worldly goods when their mother died.  This is how family fortunes are made. It takes several generations and ambitious parents. 

It is John Shaddick's son Thomas who married Mary Gregory in Bradford on Tone in Somerset Feb. 4, 1749. He had three sons:
  • John Shaddick Jun 2 1750 
  • Robert Shaddick Nov 17 1751 
  • Thomas Shaddick Aug 5 1753 (did not survive)
John Gregory Shaddick's father was the oldest, inheriting his grandfather's Christian name. 

This excerpt from Cliff Shaddick's PDF confirms that I have found the correct lineage for John Gregory Shaddick (p.8): "The grand-son of JOHN Baptised 2nd. June 1750 must receive special attention. It is evident that John must have received a considerable degree of education; whether at school or privately is not known. He may have gone to London as a young man and obtained some legal experience. The journey would take only two days if he went by coach which ran twice a week or more from Exeter via Tiverton." Cliff wrote to the Public Record Office, Chancery Lane, and discovered that "John Shaddick, gentleman, was admitted to the office of one of the Underclerks in the Six Clerk's Office in the division of William Luther Sewell, esquire." William Luther Sewell was the third son of Sir Thomas Sewell and Catherine Heath. He was one of the Six Clerks of the Court of Chancery. 

John Shaddick is referred to as a "gentleman," so he was obviously wealthy enough to find his niche in the lucrative clerk's business of the court. He would eventually become a Sworn Clerk in Sewell's division, as did his son John Gregory.   

Cliff Shaddick preserved a detailed description of what we see in the portrait, down to the clothing he was wearing. He speculates that J.G. Shaddick was a companion to the famous portraitist Ben Marshall who painted the picture and went shooting with him. He thinks the setting of the portrait is actually Clayhanger in Devon. He went to London and knocked on the door of 8 John Street, Bedford Row where the Shaddick family lived in London and went to Clayhanger to see if he could dig up the history of the family there, but found nothing. In the end he says: "Here again something of importance has been learned: the name Shaddick has been spelled the same throughout the entries. It has shown the enterprise of one man in leaving a very rural existence and humble surroundings to become a person of some importance in the city of London and to be the first to do so of this family."

A short bio at John Gregory Shaddick's death says he was a "sworn clerk" in the Court of Chancery, a legal institution in England, that had considerable powers at this death. It administered laws governing such financial matters as trusts, and other financial matters affecting the wealthy in Britain at the time. This raises another possibility, that John may have raised the ire of wealthy litigants: "Offices of the Chancery were sold by the Lord Chancellor for much of its history, raising large amounts of money. Many of the clerks and other officials were sinecures who, in lieu of wages, charged increasingly exorbitant fees to process cases, one of the main reasons why the cost of bringing a case to the Chancery was so high. (Wikiepedia). The fact JG was a clerk, albeit a very high ranking official of a prestigious court, would have made him an object of derision by England's traditional aristocracy.

In another clipping he is reported to have given up a large estate because he would not accept a bequeath that included illegitimate children.  The satirical gossip column reported had not joined the hunting season that year. "He has killed but one hare, which he dexterously shot from his travelling carriage, in her attempt to cross the main road at Northampton." 

Fascinating is another newspaper report that he had been offered a peerage, the Earl of Gregory, although it appears he had not accepted it as I have not found evidence of a Shaddick who became Earl of Gregory. Does this not suggest that he was not the social climber he appears to be lampooned as in the gossip columns? This may be as close as our family ever got to having a peer in the family.

There is no evidence he ever married. 

There is an unfortunate twist at the end of this short tale of John Gregory Shaddick. It was found by Ursula Ann. In the "Accounts and Papers of the House of Commons" (Vol. 23, 1846), in a section called "Return by Richard Mills," he says he purchased John Gregory Shaddick's business (which may have been his office as a sworn clerk) for almost £19,000 was half the profits of the business for 7 years from a committee of his estate. Apparently in 1820 he was declared a lunatic. Upon his death his sister administered his estate and received the benefit of the sale of the business. 





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