Joshua Mauger was the first Jerseyman to be elected to the House of Commons, where he represented the Poole constituency from 1768 to 1780, after his first election was declared void. Before returning to England in 1760 he had had a remarkable career in Nova Scotia, Canada, as a sea-captain and businessman. He was also revealed in a 2021 Jersey Heritage report to have been heavily involved in the slave trade.
Baptised Josué Mauger in St John on 25 April 1725, he was the eldest son of Josué Mauger and Sara Le Couteur. His father was possibly the eldest son of Philippe Mauger (1660- ), son of Jean Mauger and Marie Le Quesne, and Jeanne Bradshaw (1665- ). Philippe and Jeanne had three other sons, Philippe (1688- ), Henri (1689- ) and Nicolas (1690- ), and, if the link to Josue jnr is correct, a fifth, Mathieu, whose daughter Elizabeth married Josue jnr.
Joshua Mauger, as he signed his name, married Elizabeth Mauger, his cousin, and they had one daughter, Elizabeth (or Sarah?), baptised in 1754 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Joshua died in Lymington, Hampshire in 1788. He was predeceased in 1770 by his daughter, who married Jerseyman Captain James d'Auvergne; and by his wife in 1776.
Joshua amassed a fortune during his lifetime and his principal heir was Jurat Philip Nicolle (1769-1836), who married Joshua's niece, also Elizabeth Mauger, and built 9 Pier Road, which later became the headquarters of La Société Jersiaise.
He went to sea as a boy with his uncle Matthew, who was a sea captain operating out of Poole, Dorset.
In December 1743, at the age of 18, he was master of the Grand Duke, quarantined in an unknown British port after a voyage from Naples and Leghorn. He was a member of the Younger Brethren of Trinity House. He was later master of the Duke of Cumberland until 1747, and appears to have moved to Cape Breton Island and then Halifax, Nova Scotia. Later in his life he was an Elder Brother of Trinity House.
He became the largest shipowner in Halifax with a fleet of 27 vessels, some of them built in his own shipyard. He was Victualler to the Royal Navy and involved in all manner of trading enterprises, as well as taking part in 52 property transactions and becoming a major landowner.
His success did not come easily, and he does not appear to have enjoyed his time in Canada. In April 1759 he wrote to a business contact in London:
- "I can say with great Truth that what I have earned is by Savings and not otherwise, as the most Part of the People one employs in these Parts of the world are much above themselves and like their ease and good living more than the interest of their Principals. This I say to their shame: for my part I protest before the Great God who gives me a Being that I've never had an hour's Real Pleasure since I left England."
- Biography of Josue Mauger in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography
- Biography of Josue Mauger from the Dartmouth Patriot, 1901
- Joshua Maugher biography
Back to England
Mauger remained in Canada until 1760, apart from a trip to England in 1749-50, and on returning to London he was Nova Scotia's first agent-general in the capital from 1762 to 1768.
He lived in Upper Grosvenor Street and was a director of the French Hospital in Soho. He also had a house in Poole, where he spent time during the summer, and in 1765 he was asked by independent Freement of the town to contest an election for their Member of Parliament.
This was the beginning of a tumultuous and complicated period in Poole Politics. Members of Parliament were elected by about 100 Freemen, and the first time he stood, Mauger lost by 45 votes to 14 to Joseph Gulston, whose father Joseph had vacated the seat intending that his son should succeed him as Poole's MP, which was unacceptable to some of the independents in the borough.
Mauger stood again in 1768 and defeated Gulston by 57 votes to 49. But the following February it was proved that he had offered a gift of £1,000 to the bankrupt Corporation of Poole, if elected, and his election was declared void. In the re-run, Gulston again stood against him at first, but withdrew to leave Mauger elected unopposed as one of Poole's two MPs.
Mauger remained one of Poole's two representatives until 1780. In 1774 he obtained 55 votes against the 59 of Sir Eyre Coote, who took the borough's second seat. In 1780 Mauger placed third behind Joseph Gulston and William Morton Pitt and he did not again stand for election. His time in Parliament was uneventful and despite regularly featuring in the division lists, he is only recorded as having spoken twice, on minor issues.
- Old Bailey proceedings of the trial of Thomas Davis on 20 April 1761 for forgery and fraud in attempting to obtain four guineas from Joshua Mauger