Jonas Hanway and the Marine Society

N. Merrill Distad describes how a merchant returned to London from his travels in Russia and the East to become a notable eighteenth-century philanthropist.

In a quiet close, a few steps from Bishopsgate, stands a modest modern building, the home of a philanthropic organization known as The Marine Society.

From its headquarters in the City of London the Society carries on its work of providing financial grants which - in the words of its 215th annual report - ‘encourage boys to consider making their careers in the Merchant Navy upon which the prosperity of the nation so largely depends’.

Benefactions to these young men are part of a tradition that reaches back to the Anglo-French wars of the eighteenth century. The Marine Society still awaits its historian. It was the creation of a remarkable man.

The founder was Jonas Hanway (1712-1786), widely famed in his own lifetime, but today seldom remembered for more than having popularized the umbrella.

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