Jonas Hanway

In the west aisle of the north transept of Westminster Abbey is a memorial to philanthropist Jonas Hanway. This shows a relief of Britannia distributing clothing to boys destined for service at sea, a reference to the Marine Society which Hanway founded in 1756. The monument has been rearranged since its erection and the portrait relief of Jonas is now at the base. A lamp and two carved flags, inscribed "Charity and Policy united", have been removed. The inscription reads:

Sacred to the memory of Jonas Hanway: who departed this life Sept. 5th 1786 aged 74. but whose NAME liveth and will ever live whilst active piety shall distinguish the CHRISTIAN: integrity and truth shall recommend the BRITISH MERCHANT: and universal kindness shall characterize the CITIZEN of the WORLD. The helpless infant nurtured thro' his care, the friendless prostitute shelter'd and reform'd, the hopeless youth rescu'd from misery and ruin, and train'd to serve and to defend his country, uniting in one common strain of gratitude, bear testimony to their benefactor's virtues. "THIS was the FRIEND and FATHER of the POOR".

The coat of arms shows "a chevron between three demi-lions rampant" with the crest of a demi-lion rampant. The sculptors were John Francis Moore and his son John.

Jonas was a son of Thomas Hanway and his wife Mary (Hoghen) and was baptised on 2nd August 1712 in Portsmouth. He travelled as a merchant to Portugal, Russia and Persia and was a victualling commissioner for the Navy. The Marine Society trained boys for navy service and he also championed the cause of chimney sweeps and poor children. He was the first man to carry an umbrella in London and he published many works covering a range of topics and founded the Magdalen Hospital. He died on 5th September 1786 and was buried at St Mary's, Hanwell in Middlesex.

Further reading

"Jonas Hanway. Founder of the Marine Society" by J.S. Taylor, 1985

Moore's original design (differing from that executed) is at the Victoria & Albert Museum


5th September 1786




North Transept

Memorial Type


Jonas Hanway
Jonas Hanway by James Northcote

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

Jonas Hanway
Jonas Hanway memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster