Michael Hoy (1758-1828) was a merchant, with warehouses and shops in St Petersburg and a thriving import and export trade between Britain and Russia. In recognition of his achievements, he was made Sheriff of London in 1812. He spent much of his life in Russia, but evidently had early links with Southampton as he married Hannah Ramsay at All Saints Church on the High Street in 1768. When not resident in Russia he lived at a large house in Hanover Square in London. He amassed a large fortune, and with it he bought land and property in Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight. To celebrate the visit of Tsar Alexander to Great Britain in 1814, he erected a large monument on his Isle of Wight estate. The Hoy Monument, as it is known, still stands.
At some time between 1815 and 1818 he bought Middanbury House in Southampton which then became his principal residence. While in Southampton he became a patron of the young artist William Shayer. He purchased many of Shayer’s paintings and also employed him to paint scenes on the walls at Middanbury.
In 1825 he purchased the nearby Thornhill estate and began building Thornhill Park House in the same year. He died in 1828, before its completion. His second wife Elizabeth lived at Thornhill until her death in 1839 when it passed to a nephew, James Barlow, who as James Barlow Hoy became MP for Southampton in 1830.
‘Michael Hoy, 1758-1828; Russia Merchant’, by Dorothy Wright, in Hampshire Field Club Proceedings, Vol. 47, 1992, p191-195. (H/f)
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