Sir William Curtis, 1st Bt of Cullands Grove, Southgate in the County of Middlesex was born 25 January 1752 in Wapping, Greater London, England, United Kingdom to Joseph Curtis (1714-1771) and Mary Tennant (c1710-c1759) and died 18 January 1829 England, United Kingdom of unspecified causes. He married Anne Constable (1757-1833) 9 January 1776 .

Sir William Curtis

Sir William Curtis (centre) in an 1809 caricature on the Walcheren Expedition, between military commanders John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham and Marshal Bernadotte

Sir William Curtis (25 January 1752 – 18 January 1829)[1] was an English businessman, banker and politician. Although he had a long political and business career (the two significantly intertwined), he was probably best known for the banquets he hosted.

Early life

Born in Wapping, London, Curtis was the son of a sea biscuit manufacturer, Joseph Curtis, and his wife Mary Tennant.[2]

The family business was making ship's biscuit and other dry provisions for the Royal Navy. They were also shipowners whose vessels carried convicts to Australia and engaged in South Sea whaling.[3]


Geni said "Brother of Timothy Curtis; Reverend Charles Curtis and George Curtis". Timothy married a daughter of Cornelius Wildbore (1711-), a High Sheriff of Nottingham, but neither Geni nor WikiTree shows how those brothers' ancestors might be related to Mary Curtis, Cornelius's wife.


Offspring of William Curtis and Anne Constable (1757-1833)  ¢
Name Birth Death Joined with
Anna Curtis (1779-1780)
Emma Curtis (1781-1857)
William Curtis (1782-1847)
George Curtis (1784-)
Timothy Abraham Curtis (1786-1857)
Charles Berwick Curtis (1795-1876)
Rebecca Mary Curtis (1799-1848)


A lifelong Tory, he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the City of London at the 1790 general election.[4] He held the seat continuously for 28 years until his defeat at the 1818 general election.[5] He was returned to the Commons in February 1819 at a by-election for Bletchingley,[6][7] and at the 1820 general election he was returned again for the City of London.[1][5] He did not contest London again at the 1826 election,[5] when he was returned for Hastings.[8][9] He resigned that seat later the same year.[9]

Sir William Curtis, 1st Baronet as Bonnie Willie. George Cruikshank, 1822.[10]

Curtis was also Alderman of the city, becoming Sheriff of London in 1788 and Lord Mayor in 1795–96. He was known for the lavish banquets he gave at his estate, Cullands Grove. He was created a Baronet of Cullonds Grove in 1802.[11]

Memorial to Sir William Curtis in St George's Church, Ramsgate, Kent

Curtis died in 1829. His estate sale ran for a week, and included 370 dozen bottles of wine, port, claret, East India Madeira, sherry (Wild's), Malaga, Hock, and beer.[12]

Witty sayings

The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction has "Reminiscences" of Sir William's wit, recounting:

'It has been very much the fashion amongst a class of persons to attribute to Sir W. C. certain bulls (which would be more in place from an alderman of Dublin), and also a vulgarity and ignorance of speech which are by no means consistent with his character and conduct. The worthy and hospitable baronet has a rapid mode of speech, but it is always correct ; and although some eccentricities are mixed up in his composition, he is highly honourable, and has been a very useful member of society, particularly to his London constituents. Among other absurdities he is charged with having given, at public dinners, the following toasts:— "The British tars of Old England." "A speedy peace, and soon." ... At a school dinner, "The three R's—Reading, Writing, and Rithmetic." ...'. He may well have been the inventor of the now well-known "three R's".


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General
¢ Children
  • Geni did not mention Anna or George in April 2021. WikiTree listed the children thus (though only the boys had separate profiles):
  1. Anna Curtis 1779–1780
  2. Emma Curtis 1781–1857. Married Henry Cadwallader Adams.
  3. William Curtis 1782–1847. Married Mary Anne Lear.
  4. George Curtis 1784–. Married Anna Delicia Windsor.
  5. Timothy Abraham Curtis 1786–1857. Married Margaret Harriet Green, Frances Pitt Brown.
  6. Charles Berwick Curtis 1795–1876. Married Henrietta Pearson.
  7. Rebecca Mary Curtis 1799–1848. Married Timothy Curtis.
¶ Death
  • Wikipedia says "Greater London". WikiTree says "Died 18 Jan 1829 in Ramsgate, Kent...".

Robin Patterson

See also

  • Lady Penrhyn, a ship part-owned by Curtis that carried convicts in the First Fleet to New South Wales in 1788.
  • Curtis Island, New Zealand, one of the Kermadec Islands named after Curtis by the Lady Penryn.
  • Butterworth Squadron, a whaling and maritime fur trading expedition to the Pacific Ocean in 1792, of which Curtis was a principal investor.


  1. ^ a b Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "L" (part 3)
  2. ^ "Curtis, William (1752–1829), of Culland's Grove, Southgate, Mdx., History of Parliament Online". 
  3. ^ Jane M. Clayton & Charles A. Clayton, Shipowners investing in the South Sea whale fishery from Britain; 1775 to 1815, Hassobury, 2016, p.89.
  4. ^

    You must specify issue= and startpage= when using {{London Gazette}}. Available parameters: Template:London Gazette/doc/parameterlist

    , 26 June 1790.
  5. ^ a b c Stooks Smith, Henry. (1973). Craig, F. W. S.. ed. The Parliaments of England (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. pp. 210–211. ISBN 0-900178-13-2. 
  6. ^

    You must specify issue= and startpage= when using {{London Gazette}}. Available parameters: Template:London Gazette/doc/parameterlist

    , 16 February 1819.
  7. ^ Stooks Smith, page 545
  8. ^ Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "H" (part 2)
  9. ^ a b Stooks Smith, page 338
  10. ^ Sir William Curtis, 1st Bt. National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  11. ^

    You must specify issue= and startpage= when using {{London Gazette}}. Available parameters: Template:London Gazette/doc/parameterlist

    , 27 November 1802.
  12. ^ Newby, Herbert W. (1949) "Old" Southgate. London: T. Grove. pp. 17–29.

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