HANMER, Sir John (d.1701), of Hanmer, Flints. and Whittingham Hall, Fressingfield, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



29 Oct. - 22 Nov. 1669
7 Dec. 1669

Family and Education

1st s. of Sir Thomas Hanmer, 2nd Bt. by 1st w. educ. travelled abroad (France, Portugal) 1644-51. m. c. June 1659, Mary (d. 11 Dec. 1709), da. and h. of Joseph Alston of Washbrooke, Suff., 1da. d.v.p. Kntd. 9 Aug. 1660; suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 6 Oct. 1678.1

Offices Held

Commr. for assessment, Flints. 1657, Jan. 1660, 1661-74, 1679-80, 1689-90, Suff. Aug. 1660-1, 1673-80, 1689, Worcs. 1673-9; j.p. Flints. Mar. 1660-d., Suff. July 1660-at least 1664; keeper of the game, N. Wales Dec. 1660, capt. of militia horse, Flints. 1661-?85; commr. for loyal and indigent officers, Suff. 1662; sheriff, Glos. 1664-5; commr. for recusants, Worcs. 1675; dep. lt. Flints. 1685-d.2

Gent. of the privy chamber (extraordinary) June 1660-?70; esquire of the body by 1670-85; commr. for revenue inspection [I] 1676-80; PC [I] 1695-d.3

Capt. Lord Gerard’s Horse 1662-3, 1666-7, maj. 1678-9; capt. Duke of Buckingham’s Ft. 1672-3; capt. of ft. [I] 1678-80; lt.-col. (later 11 Ft.) 1685, col. Dec. 1688-d.; gov. Cork 1692; brig. 1695.4

MP [I] 1695-9.


Hanmer spent much of his childhood and adolescence with his father in Roman Catholic countries, but, unlike his sister, who ended her life as a nun, he acquired only a distaste for the religion. During the Interregnum he advanced £600 for the King’s service, and at the Restoration he was knighted and given a post at Court. Although he married an heiress, and eventually also inherited the Baker estates in Gloucestershire and Suffolk, his extravagance entailed frequent outlawries. When he stood on the court interest for Evesham in 1669, he was described as ‘a privy chamber man, vastly in debt, [who] had £500 to follow his election’. He defeated Sir James Rushout on the corporation franchise, and again on the votes of the ‘burgesses at large’ after the first election had been declared void. He was an active Member of the Cavalier Parliament in which he was appointed to 89 committees, made 17 recorded speeches, and acted as government teller in 20 divisions. His first important committee was on the bill for suppressing conventicles (2 Mar. 1670), and in December he acted as teller for supply. At the end of the session he was listed among the government supporters. He was appointed to the committee for the test bill in 1673, but would have agreed with the Lords to permit the continuance of pensions to Roman Catholics. He also served on the committee to consider the bill of ease for Protestant dissenters. He served aboard the fleet in the Duke of Buckingham’s regiment during the summer, and when Parliament reassembled insisted that only those articles of war which were agreeable to law had been read to home service troops. He favoured seeking the concurrence of the Lords, which was unlikely, for the address against Buckingham. When his regiment was disbanded, the King ordered proportional compensation to be found for him. He was granted a pension of £800 p.a. for three years, and his name appeared on the Paston list of court supporters.5

In the spring session of 1675 Hanmer was teller against the third paragraph of the address for the removal of Lauderdale and against a place bill. He was among those Members consulted by Danby on the eve of his impeachment. During the debate he moved for a summons to the witnesses to be called for the defence, and objected to setting up a committee to inquire into payments for secret service because the matter was already before the House. On 10 May he clashed with William Cavendish, Lord Cavendish, over the result of a division in committee on the recall of British subjects in the service of Louis XIV, and only prompt action by Edward Seymour averted serious disorder. He received the government whip for the autumn session, in which he was appointed to the committee for the appropriation bill. In the renewed debate on British troops in the French army he warned the House on 23 Oct.: ‘If you withdraw these forces from France, you give the French encouragement to make peace. Having these men there, you keep the balance.’ On the prorogation he was forced to leave the country to avoid arrest, but he was soon appointed to the Irish revenue commission. He was listed among the officials in the House and in Wiseman’s account, and on the working lists he was marked ‘to be sent for’. Protected by his privilege he duly landed at Chester for the 1677 session, together with George Weld, Sir Cyril Wyche and Lord Fitzharding (Maurice Berkeley). He was marked ‘doubly vile’ on Shaftesbury’s list and included among the government speakers, which he justified on 21 Feb. by supporting the grant of £600,000 for building warships, and remarking offensively that in a loyal country no man would mention a lesser amount. He was appointed to the committees to recall Englishmen from France, preventing the growth of Popery and drafting an address to promise assistance to the King in the event of war with France. After the debate, however, complaint was made that he, with other members of the government caucus, ‘did not stir’. He was teller against imposing a permanent ban on Irish cattle, a reckless action if he ever intended to represent a Welsh constituency. Having served on the committee for the bill to ensure that children of the royal family should be brought up as Protestants, he vigorously opposed a more tolerant bill sent down by the Lords on 4 Apr., calling on the House to stand by

our David against this Goliath; our bill against the Lords’ bill. Ours will go up to the Lords triumphant in throwing out this, and warm your party in the Lords’ House.6

Hanmer was again commissioned in the newly raised forces in 1678, and when Parliament met he was appointed to the committee to draw up the address for reducing France to her 1659 frontiers, and acted as teller for adjourning the debate on Seymour’s arbitrary conduct in the chair and for agreeing with the Lords on the address for war with France. In the debate of 29 Apr. he defended the Government’s unpopular and ineffective foreign policy:

The King has proceeded to war as much as he could, and the Dutch say they have been so wasted with the war that without [even] a preliminary from the French King they would go into a peace with him. ... The King has all along intended war with the French, and has endeavoured to do it, and the alliances are not come up to it.

He was appointed to the committee to draw up the address for the removal of counsellors, which, he considered, exceeded its instructions by ignoring the position of the House of Lords:

I would not have the committee, though men of great parts, think that the House will always agree with them. I would have the address recommitted, they having no authority to do what they have done.

He was teller against the fourth paragraph of the address, and was summoned to the meeting of the government caucus on 30 May, in preparation for the debate on disbandment. He was appointed to the committee to report on arrears of pay.7

Hanmer had to leave London in October 1678 to attend his father’s funeral. On the way, he wrote to Sir Charles Wheler Sir Charles Wheler to assure Danby that he would return for the next session. He hoped to succeed his father as custos rotulorum of Flintshire, a place ‘of very small value, but of some interest in the country, which I hope my lord thinks I shall be as ready to employ in his service as any man’. Although his hopes were not to be fulfilled, he had resumed his seat by 30 Oct., when he was added to the committee to translate Coleman’s letters. He helped to draw up reasons for belief in the Popish Plot and an address to explain the committal of Secretary Williamson. On 21 Nov. he urged the House to allow the Duke of York to retain his seat in the Lords without taking the Test:

You had better impeach the Duke than throw out this proviso and take him from his brother. Keep him here, and you may breathe the wholesome doctrines of the Church of England into him. And because I see the whole bill in danger if you throw out the proviso, and religion too, therefore I am against throwing it out.

He was appointed to the committee to prepare reasons against excepting a limited number of the servants of the Queen and the Duchess of York from the Test, and five days later acted as teller for the adjournment of the debate, a subject in which he was particularly interested because his half-brother was the Queen’s solicitor-general. In his last speech, on 19 Dec. he sought in vain to divert attention from the attack on Danby’s instructions to Ralph Montagu Ralph Montagu* by taking up a melodramatic allusion to poison in the speech of William Harbord William Harbord.8

Hanmer was on both lists of the court party in 1678, and was described inA Seasonable Argument as ‘a prodigal gentleman of the horse ... a commissioner of the excise and in command of a troop of horse in Ireland, who had £2,000 given him’. As one of the ‘unanimous club’, he probably did not stand at the first general election of 1679, and though he proposed to contest Flintshire in the autumn he seems to have desisted, and lost his post in Ireland in the following year. He was, however, successful in 1681, but left no trace on the records of the Oxford Parliament. He sat for the Boroughs in 1685, and was listed among the Opposition in James II’s Parliament. He was a moderately active Member, being appointed to the committees to recommend expunctions from the Journal, to inspect the disbandment accounts, to continue relief for the creditors of the late Earl of Cleveland, and to consider a petition from the hackney coachmen. He resumed his interrupted military career again during Monmouth’s rebellion, and was absent with his regiment when the lord president questioned the magistracy about their attitude to the Test Act and Penal Laws. He must have given satisfaction to the Government, for he was retained in local office, and Sunderland ordered him to stand for the county in 1688. This confidence was ill-founded, for at the Revolution he accepted an offer of £5,000 from Danby to secure Hull for the Protestant cause. The Roman Catholic officers of the garrison were apprehended ‘without effusion of blood and to the satisfaction of the town’, and Hanmer was rewarded with the colonelcy of his regiment.9

Hanmer was re-elected for the Boroughs to the Convention, in which he was almost totally inactive. A court Tory, he did not vote to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant. His only speech was to attack the bailing of Brent, the ‘Popish solicitor’, and his only committee was for the toleration bill. He probably joined his regiment in Ireland soon afterwards, though he was absent sick from the parade in October 1688, when it was found to be ‘very badly clothed’. His political career in Britain was over, but he fought at the battle of the Boyne and represented Carlingford in the Irish Parliament. He was buried at Hanmer on 12 Aug. 1701. His nephew, the fourth baronet, was the most distinguished politician of the family, acting as Speaker of Queen Anne’s last Parliament and subsequently as leader of the Hanover Tories.10

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Edward Rowlands


  • 1. J. Hanmer, Par. and Fam. of Hanmer, 75-76, 122, 128; East Anglian, n.s. xii. 366.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 431; 1661-2, p. 145; 1665-6, p. 215; T. Dingley, Beaufort’s Progress, 88.
  • 3. LC3/2; Hanmer, 123; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 180; HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 493-4; CSP Dom. 1695, p. 5.
  • 4. CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 577; 1665-6, p. 557; 1695, p. 5; HMC Ormonde ii. 210, 215; n.s. v. 493-4; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1664.
  • 5. Hanmer, 123; 128; Copinger, Suff. Manors, iv. 36; vi. 224; VCH Glos. viii. 263; Harl. 7020, f. 46; CJ, ix. 182, 264, 303; Grey, ii. 397; CSP Dom. 1673-5, pp. 207-8; 1675-6, p. 356.
  • 6. CJ, ix. 322, 327, 408; Dering Pprs. 74, 82; Grey, iii. 336; iv. 126, 338; Cal. Treas. Bks. v. 180, 526; CSP Dom. 1676-7, p. 512 Eg. 3345, f. 35v.
  • 7. CJ, ix. 436, 458, 479; Grey, v. 280, 369; CSP Dom. 1678, p. 194.
  • 8. CSP Dom. 1678, p. 455; Grey, vi. 242, 350; CJ, ix. 548.
  • 9. Flints. Hist. Soc. xiv. 44; HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 493-4; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 276; Browning, Danby, ii. 142-3, 147-8; Add. 28053, f. 369; Clarke, Jas. II, ii. 230.
  • 10. Grey, ix. 52; CSP Dom. 1689-90, p. 48; Hanmer, 131.