BIRD, John, of Kenilworth, Warws.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
Perhaps s. of William Bird, silkman, mayor of Coventry 1705. m. Rebecca, da. and coh. of Charles Martyn, Lisbon merchant, of Hidcote Bartrim, Glos., 6 ch.1
Receiver of land tax for Warws. and Coventry 1723-33; commr. of stamp duties, Mar. 1737-Aug. 1742.
Bird’s family had introduced ribbon-weaving to Coventry, which became one of the chief manufactures in the town, and his brother, Thomas, was ‘one of the most considerable silk manufacturers in England’.2 In 1723 he was given the post of receiver of the land tax for his county by Walpole, holding it until 1733, when he declared himself a candidate for Coventry, standing on the anti-excise platform.3 Returned with Sir Adolphus Oughton, against John Neale, he wrote to Walpole:
I have never yet been ashamed or afraid (though in a part of the world in which you know it will not beget much praise or popularity) publicly to avow my affection for the King and his ministry, and upon all proper occasions, heartily to distinguish my zeal and attachments to both; and as I have the honour now to be in public station, shall be glad to give all possible proofs of my perseverance in the same principles, being fully satisfied that strengthening the hands of the present government will be the best means that I know of promoting the public good, and therefore not at all incompatible with the duty I owe my country. It is well known that a certain angry gentleman [Oughton] would never have had it in his power as a representative of this city to have aspersed me in a very great assembly without the aid and interest of me and my family, and I hope, sir, my making use of the same interest in my own favour which has been cultivating for half a century at least, will not be looked upon as a mark of disaffection.4
Neale petitioned against him, questioning his property qualification on the ground that he had acquired certain estates immediately before the election, disposing of them immediately afterwards, and that though he had later purchased an estate in Threadneedle Street, he had for several months sat and voted without being properly qualified. In the spring of 1737 he accepted the post of commissioner of the stamp duties ‘for the peace and quiet of the city of Coventry’.5 After Walpole’s fall he lost his place, which was given to Sir John Barnard’s son. His nephew, Robert Bird, contested Coventry unsuccessfully against the government candidate at a by-election in 1747. The date of his death is unknown.