Jonathan Backhouse (1779–1842)

  (Redirected from Jonathan Backhouse (1779-1842))

Jonathan Backhouse (1779–1842) was a third generation banker from Darlington. He is known for financing the Stockton to Darlington Railway. He was married to the Quaker preacher Hannah Chapman Backhouse.[2]

Jonathan Backhouse
Known forBankers to the Stockton and Darlington Railway
Spouse(s)Hannah Chapman[2]
For the grandson of this Jonathan Backhouse, also called "Jonathan Backhouse", see Sir Jonathan Edmund Backhouse, 1st Baronet (15 November 1849 – 27 July 1918)


Backhouse was born on 19 January 1779 to Jonathan Backhouse (1747–1826) and his wife Ann (1746–1826) daughter of Edward Pease (1711–1785) of Darlington. After his father died, Backhouse took over what was to become Backhouse's Bank. In 1811 he married Hannah Chapman Gurney[3] who had connection to several important Quaker families.[2]

Backhouse was involved with financing the Stockton and Darlington Railway. He raised £125,000. Twenty thousand pounds were from his own resources and the largest contribution of £80,000 came from his Quaker banker contacts.[4] A story is told that when the Earl of Darlington's plot to bankrupt the Backhouse bank was discovered, Backhouse went to London to obtain gold to provide additional and urgent collateral. The plot was due to the Earl's anger that the new railway, financed by Backhouses's bank, was causing problems with the Earl's fox hunting. Backhouse was racing back to Darlington when he lost a wheel. It is said that he was able to continue the journey by moving the gold so that the chaise was still balanced and he was able to complete the journey with the wheel still missing.[5]

Backhouse gave up banking in 1833 in order that he could concentrate on his Quaker ministry. He went to America with his wife where Hannah Chapman Backhouse toured and preached, although Backhouse had to return twice to the UK.[2] Hannah travelled with Eliza MacBride (later Gurney)[6] preaching in the southern states. She was shocked to see slave dealers travelling with their wares along the road. Hannah returned in 1935 and she would continue to preach in the UK for another ten years.[2]

In 1840, Backhouse is one of the leading people at the World Anti-Slavery Convention organised by Joseph Sturge and the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1840. Backhouse is one the larger figures on the left of the painting. He is shown supporting the chair of the star guest and speaker, Thomas Clarkson.[1]

Backhouse had two daughters and four sons [3] including Edmund Backhouse who took over the banking firm and was also an M.P.


  1. ^ a b The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1841, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG599, Given by British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1880
  2. ^ a b c d e John, Banham. "Durham biographies volume 6 - Hannah Chapman Backhouse" (PDF). Durham Web. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b W.H.Auden Family Ghosts Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Stanford University, accessed January 2010
  4. ^ "Railway the result of a race into the future". The Northern Echo. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  5. ^ M. W. Kirby, ‘Backhouse, Jonathan (1779–1842)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 20 Jan 2010
  6. ^ "Gurney, Eliza (1801–1881) |". Retrieved 7 September 2020.