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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Jonas Hanway

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JONAS HANWAY (1712-1786), English traveller and philanthropist, was born at Portsmouth in 1712. While still a child, his father, a victualler, died, and the family moved to London. In 172 9 Jonas was apprenticed to a merchant in Lisbon. In 1 743, after he had been some time in business for himself in London, he became a partner with Mr Dingley, a merchant in St Petersburg, and in this way was led to travel in Russia and Persia. Leaving St Petersburg on the 10th of September 1743, and passing south by Moscow, Tsaritsyn and Astrakhan, he embarked on the Caspian on the 22nd of November, and arrived at Astrabad on the 18th of December. Here his goods were seized by Mohammed Hassan Beg, and it was only after great privations that he reached the camp of Nadir Shah, under whose protection he recovered most (85%) of his property. His return journey was embarrassed by sickness (at Resht), by attacks from pirates, and by six weeks' quarantine; and he only reappeared at St Petersburg on the 1st of January 1745. He again left the Russian capital on the 9th of July 1750 and travelled through Germany and Holland to England (28th of October). The rest of his life was mostly spent in London, where the narrative of his travels (published in 1753) soon made him a man of note, and where he devoted himself to philanthropy and good citizenship. In 1756 he founded the Marine Society, to keep up the supply of British seamen; in 1758 he became a governor of the Foundling, and established the Magdalen, hospital; in 1761 he procured a better system of parochial birth-registration in London; and in 1762 he was appointed a commissioner for victualling the navy (loth of July); this office he held till October 1783. He died, unmarried, on the 5th of September 1786. He was the first Londoner, it is said, to carry an umbrella, and he lived to triumph over all the hackney coachmen who tried to hoot and hustle him down. He attacked "wail-giving," or tipping, with some temporary success; by his onslaught upon tea-drinking he became involved in controversy with Johnson and Goldsmith. His last efforts were on behalf of little chimney-sweeps. His advocacy of solitary confinement for prisoners and opposition to Jewish naturalization were more questionable instances of his activity in social matters.

Hanway left seventy-four printed works, mostly pamphlets; the only one of literary importance is the Historical Account of British Trade over the Caspian Sea, with a Journal of Travels, &c. (London, 1753). On his life, see also Pugh, Remarkable Occurrences in the Life of Jonas Hanway (London, 1787); Gentleman's Magazine, vol. xxxii. p. 342; vol. lvi. pt. ii. pp. 812-814, 1090, 1143-1144; vol. lxv. pt. ii. pp. 721-722, 834-835; Notes and Queries, 1st series, i. 43 6, ii. 25; 3rd series, vii. 311; 4th series, viii. 416.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Jonas Hanway'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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