John Hubert Washington Hibbert (1804-1875) was born into a family made wealthy by a slave factorage business in Kingston. His father died when Washington Hibbert was young, leaving him a large inheritance. With this money he embarked upon a number of ambitious architectural projects, in partnership with the architect Augustus Pugin, best known for designing the interior of the Palace of Westminster.
“The old type of English gentleman - with a special individuality of his own, with a high sense of honour, and a thorough belief in the obligation that lies upon a man of family to act up to the traditions of his race - has so nearly disappeared in the crowd of glorified shopkeepers fitted with dress and principles made each like unto the other by wholesale, that it is pleasant and refreshing to find, as is found in Mr. Washington Hibbert, one who neither is nor strives to appear as though he were merely of the crowd. His outward appearance is well-known in London, and it impresses at once as that of a man of a special character and a special distinction, made all the more evident through being translated in other modes than those current among the ordinary. In fact, Mr. Washington Hibbert is one of those
whose position and standing enable them to be a law to themselves in external matters precisely because in matters more important they follow the law in which they believe. Of an ancient family, and holding still to the original faith that England professed when the greatest of the great deeds were done that have made her what she is, he has led for now seventy years a tranquil, honourable, and honoured life; and although a country gentleman is so confirmed a Londoner that he never sleeps out of the metropolis. His houses have long been known for a grateful yet unpretending hospitality, presided over by a lady who while one of the most popular hostesses in London, has shown upon occasion that she too believes in higher principles than those of Commerce, and that she too holds that an English gentleman's house and family should not be dealt with on chapman's principles.”