Family Group Sheet
Family Group Sheet
NameWilliam Brooks CLOSE
Birth1853
Death1953
MotherAnne BROOKS (1821-1876)
SpouseMary PAULIN
Children
Notes for William Brooks CLOSE
William Brooks Close (6 May 1853 – 25 September 1923) was the founder of Close Brothers Group, one the United Kingdom's oldest merchant banks.

Career

Born in Naples and brought up on his father's yacht, William Brooks Close was educated at Wellington College and Trinity College, Cambridge[1] where he rowed in the Cambridge boat in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Races of 1875, 1876 and 1877. Cambridge won in 1876 and the 1877 race was the only ever dead heat.[2] He was also runner up to Alfred Dicker in the Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley Royal Regatta in 1875.

Close went to the United States and, with the assistance of his brothers, James and John, started buying up land in Iowa; their first purchase was a tract of 14,475 acres (58.58 km2) bought at just $2.40 per acre.[2] Soon the brothers were recruiting staff from British universities to farm the prairies of Iowa.[2] They used this wealth to offer farm mortgages to other land owners.[2] The land was subsequently sold to local tenants.

In 1897 Close secured the rights to build a railway from Skagway into the Yukon. This enterprise was completed and operational by 1899.

Close built a house, Huntercombe Manor, at Nettlebed. He died in 1923 on the Isle of Wight.


From the Close Brorthers History:

"W B", as he was universally known, was raised in an atmosphere which combined tradition and innovation. When he founded Close Brothers in 1878 at the age of 25 his family had been in banking for almost 100 years, but his pioneering approach to a conservative profession was the result of an unconventional early education.

W B was born in Naples on 6 May 1853, his father's sixth child, and spent most of his early life with his family on his father's yacht, Sibilla. In accordance with their father's educational theories the children read, wrote and kept journals of their many long cruises. W B was certainly a linguist: his journals are scattered with French phrases.

W B was 12 when his father died, and his mother sent him and three of his brothers to public school in England. W B went to Wellington College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he became President of the Cambridge University Boat Club and rowed in the famous boat race which 'dead heated' in 1877.

His brothers James and John also went to Trinity and earned rowing 'blues'. But his younger brother Frederick decided he was "no good at books", and after school he went to America to try his hand at farming in West Virginia.

In 1876 W B went to America as president of the University Boat Club and captain of the British crew scheduled to row in a regatta at Philadelphia.
The rowing was not a success. W B wrote on 31 August "we would have won the International race if I had not been obliged to stop rowing by reason of diarrhoea coming on in the middle of the race. These beastly Yankees are crowing over us."

As he recovered from a rowing injury he met Daniel Paullin, a landowner from Illinois accompanied by his daughter Mary. Paullin invited W B to visit him in Illinois and accompany him to Western Iowa.

In September W B travelled to West Virginia to join his younger brother Fred, who had already been farming there for two years; and by October the brothers were reunited with the Paullin family in Illinois. Soon they were touring the prairies of Iowa, where Daniel Paullin had already made a great deal of money by buying public land and selling it to settlers.

W B was impressed with the small but cosmopolitan towns of Western Iowa: he had not only easily obtained the new George Eliot novel Daniel Deronda but also the latest edition of Punch. "There is not a particle of narrow­mindedness in this State" he wrote in his journal.

In 1878 Close Brothers & Co was formed as a London partnership financed by W B, Fred and their brother James who later joined them in Iowa.
Their initial purchase in Iowa was a 14,475­acre tract of fertile farmland which they bought for $34,740 ­ just $2.40 per acre. Daniel Paullin also invested in the land, although his stake was financed by a loan from W B, his future son­in­law.

This land, purchased incredibly cheaply, would be the basis of Close Brothers' fortunes.

Within a few years the brothers were recruiting young men straight from university in England and shipping them out to farm the prairies in Iowa. They were taught Iowa farming conditions, and Close Brothers even set up a small agricultural college to teach them western farming methods.

In 1879 the partnership opened an office in Sioux City, Iowa which was moved to Chicago in 1884; and on 7 February 1885 Close Brothers began a long and profitable relationship with the First National Bank of Chicago which lasted for over 50 years.

W B and Daniel Paullin's daughter Mary were married in New York on 4 September 1880 after protracted wrangling about Daniel Paullin's late payment for his share of the initial land purchase. Fred married Margaret Humble, the sister of a young Englishman who came out to join the colony, in 1881, and her sister Susan Humble in turn married James in 1885.

By 1888, the investment from Britain had become so substantial that the Close Brothers partnership formed a separate company to handle it. This became the Mortgage and Debenture Co Ltd which was formed with an issued share capital of £750,000.
Last Modified 24 Jun 2012Created 28 Jan 2018 using Reunion for Macintosh