COPE, Sir John (1673-1749), of Bramshill, Hants.
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Family and Education
bap. 1 Dec. 1673, 1st s. of Sir John Cope, 5th Bt.* educ. Oriel, Oxf. 1689; travelled abroad. m. 18 July 1696, Alice, da. of Sir Humphrey Monoux, 2nd Bt.†, of Wootton, Beds., sis. of Sir Philip Monoux, 3rd Bt.*, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.). Kntd. 26 Jan. 1696; suc. fa. as 6th Bt. 11 Jan. 1721.1
Dir. Bank of Eng. (with statutory intervals) 1706–21; commr. Equivalent 1707–15.2
Despite having been effectively disinherited by virtue of his grandfather’s will, Cope seems to have managed to circumvent the consequences of his misfortune. In 1696 as ‘a pretty gentleman young and hath travelled’, he married Alice Monoux who was ‘lame, looks sickly, a very coarse skin, low and plain, so I suppose her fortune is large’. By 1700 Cope was able to borrow £5,500 from his father to assist in his purchase for £21,500 of the manor of Bramshill, an estate to which he subsequently added. It was in his adopted county, at Andover, that his parliamentary ambitions initially settled. In November 1701, challenging Francis Shepheard*, he declared his determination to act in concert with the gentlemen of the county and to preserve the independence of the corporation. In fact, in this and the following general election he championed the freeman franchise against the closed oligarchy of the corporation. Defeated on both occasions, he switched his attention to the venal borough of Stockbridge, where his friend Thomas Jervoise* offered assistance. But Jervoise was informed that ‘they don’t much like Sir John Cope’. As a consequence Cope wisely retreated to Plympton Erle, where he was elected on Sir George Treby’s* interest in 1705.3
Although on one analysis of the 1705 Parliament Cope was classed as a ‘Churchman’, he was clearly a Whig, his election being recorded as a gain by Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*). He voted for the Court candidate in the division on the Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705, and in 1706 was elected a director of the Bank of England. He does not seem to have been active in parliamentary business until the 1706–7 session when Anglo-Scottish affairs caught his attention. On 19 Apr. 1707 he acted as a teller against a bill to prevent fraudulent commerce with Scotland, a last-minute attempt to plug several loopholes in the Act of Union, and a measure which outraged the Scots. This attitude probably made him one of the Bank’s more obvious nominees for their four places on the commission of the Equivalent, and he seems to have played an important role during the commissioners’ expedition to Edinburgh in August 1707 and in subsequent attempts to propitiate Scottish opinion. For some reason he was classed as a Tory on a list compiled early in 1708, but there is no other evidence for such a view.4
In the general election of that year Cope migrated to Tavistock, where he was elected unopposed with the support of the Bedford interest. A letter in June to his fellow Equivalent commissioner, Sir Andrew Hume*, made some interesting comments on Scottish politics, when he expressed the hope that the Scots would ‘send up those who are for settling North Britain upon the same foot as we are here’ and then analysed the English in party terms: ‘I think we are much mended in South Britain, for by a moderate computation the Whigs will be 299 and our friends, upon occasion, the Tories 214.’ His own election was perceived as a gain by Sunderland, and another list of early 1708 with the returns added, confirmed him as a Whig. In the opening session he acted as a teller on two occasions: on 12 Feb. 1709, in the Hindon election, in favour of Reynolds Calthorpe*, an associate of Jervoise; and on 15 Apr. against taking into consideration the Lords’ counter-amendments to the bill for improving the Union. The clause at issue restricted the forfeiture of estates to the lifetime of the person attainted, the effect of which the Lords had nullified by postponing its applicability until after the death of the Pretender. Whether this tellership demonstrated Cope’s empathy with Scottish feelings or a preference for discussing another measure it is impossible to tell. Also during this session he was listed as a supporter of the naturalization of the Palatines. At the beginning of the following session he backed the attempt of Jervoise to secure election as knight of the shire for Hampshire, although he hoped that ‘men of business’ such as himself might be excused attending the poll unless an opponent appeared, whereupon ‘neither the distance, business or the dangers of the sea shall prevent my waiting on you when I can serve you’. On the major issue of the session he remained true to the Whigs, voting in 1710 for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.5
Having retained his parliamentary seat at Tavistock in the difficult circumstances of 1710, Cope seems to have survived allegations of bribery merely because no petition was presented against his election; his Whig partner, Henry Manaton*, on the other hand, was unseated. The ‘Hanover list’ classed Cope as a Whig. On 3 Apr. 1711 he acted as a teller against a successful motion that counsel be heard on the Cockermouth election. That same year he was re-elected a director of the Bank, his name having appeared on the Whig slate. There is also evidence that he continued to follow Scottish affairs closely, having been reappointed a commissioner for the Equivalent in 1709. In February 1711 he reported to Hume that Scottish Members were uninterested in matters which did not affect them directly, a malaise which extended to the distribution of the remaining Equivalent. In the 1713 session he was a teller on 14 May against giving leave to bring in the French commerce bill and was duly noted as a Whig who voted against the bill on 18 June.6
Re-elected in 1713, Cope acted as a teller on 22 June 1714 against a resolution from ways and means to place a duty on all imported buckrams except those from Ireland. He also voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele. He was listed as a Whig on the Worsley list and on two comparative analyses of the 1713 and 1715 parliaments. Cope sat in the Commons until 1741, becoming a committed supporter of Robert Walpole II*. He died on 8 Dec. 1749, leaving estates in Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wales to his eldest son, Monoux Cope†.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: Stuart Handley
- 1. Berry, Hants Gens. 302–3; Misc. Gen. et Her. ser. 3, iv. 214–15; IGI, London.
- 2. N. and Q. clxxix. 60.
- 3. BL, Verney mss mic. 636/49, John Verney* (Ld. Fermanagh) to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 30 July 1696; PCC 93 Plymouth; VCH Hants, iv. 36–37; Hants RO, Jervoise mss 44M69/08, Cope to [Jervoise], n.d., 2 May 1704; 43M48/2570, election case; 44M69/08, Ellis St. Jervoise to [?Jervoise], 21 Feb. ; Luttrell, Brief Relation, v. 257.
- 4. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxi. 410; P. W. J. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 210.
- 5. G. Holmes and W. A. Speck, Divided Soc. 29–30; Jervoise mss 44M69/08, Cope to Jervoise, 17 Dec. 1709.
- 6. G. Holmes, Pol. in Age of Anne, 478; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiii. 17; Riley, 218.
- 7. PCC 368 Lisle.