Banker from Waddon who helped finance independent America

SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: One memorial in Croydon Minster’s churchyard dates back to the early 19th Century, and is for a man who knew Alexander Hamilton and had connections with George Washington.

Secrets from the grave: the Cazenove tomb in Croydon Minster churchyard

Another grave in the grounds of Croydon Minster is beginning to give up its centuries-old secrets.

The memorial, with a weathered surface, the lettering now indistinct and its carvings eroded, stands to the south of the church. It was erected to the memory of John Henry Cazenove who died on January 24 1817, in his 80th year.

The epitaph on his tomb says: “He was universally benevolent, generous and social. His virtues will live in the remembrance of his grateful relatives who have erected this monument.”

He was also phenomenally rich, making much of his money from the financing of the new nation of America.

John Henry Cazenove’s varied business interests had seen him appointed to be the Deputy Governor of the Royal Exchange Assurance Office and hold a directorship of the East India Company, one of the most significant organisations in the growth of the British Empire, which had its officer college at Addiscombe.

Who was this grand old man?

Born in Amsterdam on September 16 1737, he came to this country with his parents, was naturalised as a Briton in 1762 and would have a career in finance.

A great deal of information can be discovered in his will.

As well as a home on Savile Row in London, he also had a house in Waddon, then a lovely, leafy village on the banks of the River Wandle. Cazenove determined that if “he died within 14 or 15 miles of Croydon”, and still retained his Waddon residence, then this was the parish in which he wished to be buried.

Generous bequests: John Cazenove’s will left money to family, the church and charity

The bequests in his will show how much wealth Cazenove had accumulated in his lifetime. His brother, Marc Antoine Cazenove, was left £20,000 – worth a cool £2.2million in today’s values.

His spinster sister Henriette Julie was bequeathed £4,000, his nephew £2,000, his great nephew Charles £1,000. The Parish of Croydon was to receive £100 – equivalent to almost £11,000 – plus £50 for the relief of the poor. St Thomas’ Hospital, where Cazenove was a governor, also got £100.

Cazenove’s staff were remembered in the will, too. Grateful for his many safe journeys from London to Waddon, he included a gift to the wife of his coachman as well as the widow and son of his faithful servant John Mitchell.

This list of bequests to family, friends and charities contains many more entries, but the overall impression is clear: Cazenove was exceedingly rich, he looked after his family and there were still sums left over for charity. He never married, so there was no widow or children to benefit from his wealth.

Cazenove provides another piece of the jigsaw in understanding Croydon’s connections with America in the second half of the 18th and the early part of the 19th Centuries, as the new United States broke away from the British Crown.

With Rev Apthorp from Boston becoming the Vicar of Croydon in June 1765, before the American War of Independence, and his sister living in Addington Palace having married Barlow Trecothick, the American links with Croydon began to develop. As well as receiving regular American visitors at the Vicarage, Apthorp was also called upon to conduct the funerals of prominent Americans living in London.

Thomas Hutchinson, the last Colonial Governor of Massachusetts, and John Singleton Copley, the artist, are two former residents of Boston interred in what was then known as Croydon Parish Church.

American links: John Singleton Copley, who painted this family scene around 1776, fled to Croydon after the American Revolution. The artist is another prominent figure of that era with a memorial at the Minster

Cazenove’s links with the newly independent America, however, were very different to the supporters of the King, like Apthorp and Hutchinson.

The Cazenove family’s business acumen saw them seek out and take advantage of the newly established and growing United States.

“John Henry Cazenove, Nephew and Co” was a London stockbroking firm with members of the family as directors. In 1793, together with the House of Baring, they were appointed to administer the dividends of British shareholders of American securities. The company office, in 1794, was registered at 11 Copthall Court, Throgmorton Street, in the heart of the City.

Banker: Alexander Hamilton

The United States Treasury at that time was administered by Alexander Hamilton, one of the authors of the US Constitution and, of course, now the subject of a popular Broadway musical. Hamilton founded America’s national bank in 1791, and the name Cazenove appears many times in his official correspondence.

As well as Cazenove’s company playing a role in the early years of the fledgling United States, the enterprises of his brother, Theophile, were arguably more important.

Between 1763 and 1788 Theophile Cazenove ran a brokerage and commercial business in Amsterdam. In 1789 he was appointed by four Dutch banking houses to handle their speculations in American securities.

This formed the basis of the Holland Land Company. Theophile Cazenove travelled extensively along the American east coast. He purchased nearly 5million acres in western New York and northern and western Pennsylvania on behalf of his Dutch bankers. He invested in several important canal projects, too.

He founded the town of Cazenovia in Madison County in upstate New York state in 1794. He settled on Market Street, Philadelphia, and developed friendships with many of the individuals in America’s young government, including Hamilton, Aaron Burr and George Washington, the first US President.

One historian saw John Cazenove as an example of a merchant increasingly focusing on financial activities. As a merchant he dealt with the French and English East India Company, had significant connections to Lisbon, as well as links with France and Holland.

Global trader: Theophile Cazenove, John’s brother, painted in around 1795

Trade wasn’t always straightforward. Cazenove was one of many signatories of a letter sent to the London authorities complaining that imported silk was being stolen from the port and that something needed to be done to prevent this happening. His dealing with government stock and securing business on behalf of the US Government meant that the family established a sound merchant banking business.

In the 1790s, after he was appointed as minister to Britain by President Washington, Thomas Pinckney used the “John Henry Cazenove, Nephew and Co” many times to transfer funds and to provide credit on certain schemes.

It was in the early 1800s that Philip Cazenove, one of John’s nephews, used family capital to set up a new company Cazenove and Co with his brother-in-law John Menet. With the support of the Rothschild family, it became one of the leading stockbrokers and investment banks based in the City. Cazenove Capital, with offices on London Wall, is now part of the Schroders Group, a company with significant investments in Croydon today, with Ruskin Square next to East Croydon Station.

If Cazenove had died in Savile Row, he might have been buried in a prominent London church with a memorial much admired by all.

Instead, he was buried more quietly in Croydon churchyard, a Huguenot financier with a carving on the side of the tomb consisting of a lion’s head above a stone tower, from the Swiss Cazenove family coat of arms.

Previous articles by David Morgan:

  • David Morgan, pictured right, is a former Croydon headteacher, now the volunteer education officer at Croydon Minster, who offers tours or illustrated talks on the history around the Minster for local community groups

To read all his previous articles on the history of Croydon Minster and the people connected with it, click here

If you would like a group tour of Croydon Minster or want to book a school visit, then ring the Minster Office on 020 688 8104 or go to the website on and use the contact page

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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4 Responses to Banker from Waddon who helped finance independent America

  1. Lewis White says:

    Yet another knowledge-expanding and highly readable article from David Morgan. Thanks for all the insights (in this and other articles in inside Croydon) into the connection between Croydon and the US, with painter JS Copley, Cazenove, 111and Rev Apthorpe.

    Later on, Samuel Coleridge Taylor and his music was lauded in the US too..

    Just a pity that the development of Croydon has obliterated the Wandle-side village of Waddon– and abstracted and polluted its waters.

    Even Cazenove and his wealth could not have afforded a lasting solution to the latter. But I am sure that he would have done something about it.

  2. yusufaosman says:

    Thanks for a fascinating article. This is the first time I’ve come across something by David Morgan and I look forward to reading more!

    • The link to David’s archive is in the article above. His scholarly articles have been gracing these pages for many years

      • yusufaosman says:

        Great! That means there’s a lot for me to read and learn. Even though my PhD is in history I know very little about my own town, my own area of experteese being the late Ottoman Empire.

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