EVELYN, Sir John (1601-1685), of West Dean, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 11 Aug. 1601, 1st s. of George Evelyn of West Dean, six clerk in Chancery 1606-36, and Elizabeth, da. and h. of John Rivers of Chafford, Kent. educ. Merchant Taylors’ 1613; Emmanuel, Camb. 1615, BA 1619; M. Temple 1618. m. 2 Apr. 1622, Elizabeth (bur. 10 May 1658), da. and coh. of Robert Coxe, Grocer, of London, 1s. d.v.p. 4da. (2 d.v.p.). kntd. 8 Aug. 1623; suc. fa. 1636. d. 26 June 1685.2
Commr. sewers, Hants and Wilts. 1629-30, oyer and terminer, Wilts. 1631, Western circ. 1638-42, Devon, Dorset, Som. and Wilts 1655;3 j.p. Wilts. 1636-42, by 1650-d., Hants 1646-60;4 commr. subsidy, Wilts. 1641-2, 1663-4,5 assessment 1643-52, 1660-8, 1673-80, Hants 1647-8,6 sequestrations, Wilts. 1643, levying money 1643, execution of ordinances, Hants 1645; gov. of Covent Garden precinct, Mdx. 1646; commr. militia, Wilts. 1648, 1660, Hants 1660, draining Fens, 1649, scandalous ministers, Wilts. 1654,7 poll tax, Wilts. 1660,8 recusants, Hants 1675.9
Commr. assembly of divines 1643, provision for New Model Army 1645, Admty. 1645-8, abuses in heraldry 1646, exclusion from sacrament 1646, 1648, managing assessment 1647; member, cttee. of both kingdoms 1648; cllr. of state 25 Feb.-29 May 1660.10
Evelyn was the nephew of John Evelyn* of Godstone in Surrey, who was returned for Bletchingley in 1628. His father, a six clerk in Chancery, settled at West Dean on the border between Wiltshire and Hampshire, where the manor and advowson had been purchased by Evelyn’s grandfather. A substantial part of the family’s estates in Surrey were transferred to Evelyn on his marriage in April 1622, and he was knighted at Salisbury the following year.11
In 1626 the attorney-general, (Sir) Robert Heath*, nominated Evelyn at Salisbury. Evelyn may have been recommended to Heath by his uncle, Sir George Rivers* who, like Heath, was closely connected with Richard Sackville, 3rd earl of Dorset. Evelyn was rejected by the corporation but was returned for Wilton, almost certainly as a nominee of William Herbert, 3rd earl of Pembroke, although the nature of his link with the earl is unknown.12 He made one recorded speech, on 24 Feb., when he complained that, despite there being ‘twenty-six ships abroad’, nothing had been done to suppress the Dunkirk privateers. His sole committee appointment was a conference with the Lords on 4 Mar. about the summons to Buckingham. On 25 May he was granted a brief leave of absence. There is no evidence that he sought re-election in 1628.13
In 1635 Evelyn was involved in the successful defence of his father and the other Six Clerks prosecuted for exactions in office.14 In the following year he succeeded to an estate said to be worth £2,000 p.a., but encumbered with debts of at least £7,000, as well as with annuities of £700 assigned to his mother and younger brother, who was wrongly expected to succeed to his father’s office.15 In 1637 Evelyn was among the Wiltshire justices reproved for obstructing royal purveyors of timber for the Navy, and two years later he refused to contribute to the expenses of the Bishops’ War.16 Elected for Ludgershall to the Short and Long Parliaments, he became increasingly prominent in the Commons and was proclaimed a traitor by Charles I in November 1642.17 Though an Independent in the late 1640s, he abstained from Parliament after Pride’s Purge and did not return until the re-admittance of the secluded Members in 1660. In the Restoration Convention he sat for Stockbridge after his return for Ludgershall was declared void. Thereafter he seems not to have stood again. He drew up his will on 13 May 1676, in which he disinherited a daughter who had married a Tory. He died on 26 June 1685, the last of the Wiltshire branch, and was buried at West Dean.18
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Author: Alan Davidson
- 1. Abstained after Pride’s Purge 6 Dec. 1648, readmitted 21 Feb. 1660.
- 2. Reg. Merchant Taylors’ Sch. comp. C.J. Robinson, i. 74; Misc. Gen. et Her. (ser. 2), iv. 329-31; Al. Cant.; M. Temple Admiss.; Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 182.
- 3. C181/4, ff. 17v, 49v, 88v, 101; 181/5, f. 94, 221; CSP Dom. 1655, p. 114.
- 4. C231/5, pp. 213, 529; 231/6, f. 41; Perfect List of all such Persons as by Commission under Great Seal of Eng. are now Confirmed to be Custos rotulorum, Justices of Oyer and Terminer, JPs and Quorum (1660), p. 49; C193/13/2, f. 68v; 193/12/4, f. 131.
- 5. SR, v. 89, 156, 468.
- 6. A. and O. i. 95, 236, 541, 974, 977, 1092, 1095; ii. 45, 311, 480, 677, 1381; SR, v. 341, 542, 772, 825, 922.
- 7. A. and O. i. 117, 151, 696, 815, 1244; ii. 139, 976, 1442, 1445.
- 8. SR, v. 221.
- 9. CTB, iv. 698.
- 10. A. and O. i. 181, 658, 669, 839, 853, 1016, 1208; ii. 1418; CJ, v. 416.
- 11. H. Evelyn, Hist. of Evelyn Fam. 489; Wilts. IPMs ed. G.S. and A.E. Fry (Brit. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 228-9.
- 12. R.C. Hoare, Hist. of Modern Wilts. Salisbury, 348-9; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. xliii), 44; PROB 11/143, ff. 207v, 211.
- 13. Procs. 1626, ii. 120, 195; iii. 332.
- 14. CSP Dom. 1634-5, p. 585.
- 15. H. Evelyn, Hist. of Evelyn Fam. 492; CSP Dom. 1636-7, p. 269.
- 16. CSP Dom. 1637, p. 137; Historical Collections ed. J. Rushworth, iii. 912.
- 17. CSP Dom. 1641-3, p. 54; HMC Cowper, ii. 326.
- 18. R. Ashton, Eng. Civil War, 232; Evelyn, 500; PROB 11/381, ff. 193v-4v; HP Commons, 1660-90, ii. 281.