MAN, John (c.1634-89), of Jermyn Street, Westminster and Merstone, I.o.W.

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



31 Jan. - 6 Feb. 1673

Family and Education

b. c.1634, 2nd s. of Eustace Man, master mariner, of Osborne, I.o.W. by 2nd w. Ann. unm.1

Offices Held

?Lt. Tower regt. 1659-Jan. 1660, capt. Jan.-Oct. 1660.2

Farmer of excise, Norf. 1662-8; dep. treasurer of prizes, Southampton 1665-7; commr. for assessment, Hants 1673-9, Westminster 1679-80, 1689.3

Commr. for wine duties 1668-70; jt. surveyor-gen. of customs 1671-5.4


Man’s father, who came from Gosport, made two successful voyages in the service of the East India Company, returned with a pocketful of diamonds and bought an estate on the other side of the Solent. Man was well provided for in his father’s will, inheriting a share in several trading ventures, besides land and mortgages. He was too young to take part in the Civil War; in a Chancery deposition of 1675 he gave his age as 41, and nothing is known with certainty of his career before the Restoration, but as he is sometimes called ‘Captain John Man’, he may have been the officer of that name and rank in the Tower regiment. Moreover, since his claim on the Admiralty for a debt of £244 2s.11d.was recommended for favourable treatment by Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper as early as 9 June 1660, it may be conjectured that Man had assisted him in his unsuccessful attempt on the Tower on 12 Dec. 1659, and was promoted by the Rump accordingly. Certainly he was intimately linked with Ashley Cooper until at least 1677, and his first official posts are likely to have been in the gift of the latter as chancellor of the Exchequer and treasurer of prizes. He was only a sleeping partner in the Norfolk excise syndicate; it may be an indication of his religious beliefs that he failed to take the statutory oaths required of excise farmers. Ashley Cooper (now Lord Ashley) included in his prize accounts a payment of £68 17s.‘to John Man esq. for money by him disbursed about quenching the Fire of London’. His regular salary was only £200 p.a., but he was able in the same year to purchase Merstone for £2,300. It was doubtless on Ashley’s interest that Man stood unsuccessfully for Downton in 1670.5

Man’s affairs suffered a severe set-back in 1671, when the King cancelled the grant of the customs farm to Lord St. John (Charles Powlett I) and his partners. Man had taken a share in the farm, and was probably designated by the farmers as their secretary. It was suggested that he might continue as secretary to the new commissioners, but in the end he had to be satisfied with a humbler post, at a salary of 1,000 marks, and fee-farm rents totalling £143 11s.4d. given him in compensation for loss of expectations. But his connexion with Lord St. John was to bear fruit in the long run. An autumn spent in burning tobacco plantations in the west country seems to have directed his attention to the commercial possibilities of the crop. In January 1672, Ashley wrote to his overseer in Carolina, recommending Man to special favour; but if he ever crossed the Atlantic, he had returned to England by the following winter.6

By now Man’s patron, Earl of Shaftesbury and lord chancellor, was able to offer a safe seat in Parliament through his control of election writs during the recess. The death of Bullen Reymes created a vacancy in Shaftesbury’s own county. He had long been ailing, and within a week Man was on the spot, armed with Shaftesbury’s recommendation. It was reported that he had been nominated unanimously by the corporation, but Giles Strangways, who wanted the seat for his son, demanded a poll. Man, who fought the election chiefly on the toleration issue, was duly returned on 1 Feb. 1673, but was not allowed to take his seat. However, Shaftesbury valued his services so highly that he was prepared to enter into an electoral bargain with Strangways at the cost of his own brother’s seat at Poole. The writs were cancelled, but on 17 Feb. Man was reelected, this time unopposed.7

Man’s performance in Parliament can hardly have fulfilled Shaftesbury’s expectations. He never spoke, except to confirm the testimony that Lauderdale had declared the King’s edict of equal force with the law (13 Jan. 1674). He served on only 19 committees in 12 sessions, and was teller on five divisions. He lost his post in the customs to the benefit of the lord treasurer’s brother, Charles Osborne, in 1675, and Sir Richard Wiseman seems to have regarded him as one of the firmest opponents of the Court among the Dorset Members. He several times visited Shaftesbury in the Tower, and was marked ‘doubly worthy’. Man was among those charged with managing a conference with the Lords on the growth of Popery, 29 Apr. 1678, and in the same session he was teller for the address demanding the removal of bad counsellors.8

It seems probable that Man was the victim of another electoral bargain at the general election of February 1679, when Thomas Strangways wished to succeed his cousin Thomas Browne in the county seat. As an exclusionist, Browne was perfectly acceptable to Shaftesbury at Weymouth, and Man seems to have been quietly dropped. It is also possible that he did not relish the inflated bills from the alehouse-keepers which were presented to him in 1673 by his campaign manager, a brewer who used this means to discharge his desperate debts.9

Man’s name is not mentioned in the Rye House Plot or Monmouth’s Rebellion, and nothing positive has been discovered concerning his activities in the next ten years. Even before Shaftesbury’s flight, he may have entered the service of Lord St. John (in 1675 Marquess of Winchester). In May 1688, he went to Holland, as he told his nephew, ‘for a change of air’. He carried with him a letter of duty and service from Lord Winchester to William of Orange:

Having had great experience of my friend Captain Man’s fidelity and ingenuity, having entrusted him in many matters of great moment, in which I have always received full and ample satisfaction, I have therefore humbly recommended him to your highness’s favour.

Winchester’s recommendation apparently failed of its effect. Man did not return to England till several months after the Revolution, and he never received any office under the new regime. ‘A wealthy, honest gentleman’, he died of apoplexy on 23 Aug. 1689, while on a visit to his nephew in the Isle of Wight. The nephew, who was disappointed by Man’s will, in which his fee-farm rents were left to endow educational charities, claimed that his uncle died worth £40,000, but Hunt, the executor, doubted whether net assets would exceed a tenth of that sum, and no other member of the family entered Parliament.10

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: John. P. Ferris


  • 1. Soc. of Genealogists, Notes on Man Fam.; HMC Lords, n.s. v. 7.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1658-9, p. 395; CJ, vii. 824.
  • 3. Cal. Treas. Bks. i. 430, 639; viii. 77.
  • 4. Ibid. ii. 581; iii. 879, 1225; iv. 698.
  • 5. Royalist’s Notebk. ed. Bamford, 92; CSP Col. 1617-21, p. 326; 1625-9, p. 595; VCH Hants, v. 146, 200; PCC 288 Brent, 43 Ent; CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 45; PRO 30/24. bdle. 40, ff. 23, 49; C5/55/74; CJ, ix. 198.
  • 6. Cal. Treas. Bks. iii. 1122, 1314, 1339; HMC 13th Rep. VI, 6; Bulstrode Pprs. 160; CSP Col. 1669-74, p. 317.
  • 7. CSP Dom. 1672-3, pp. 300, 323, 510, 572; Dorset RO, D124 (corresp. of Giles Strangways, draft letter to Man, 18 Jan. 1673).
  • 8. CJ, ix. 479; CSP Dom. 1677-8, p. 269; Survey of London, xxix. 279.
  • 9. Dorset RO, D124 corresp. (unsigned copy of letter, 18 Jan. 1673; draft letter from Thomas Strangways to Weymouth Corp. 29 Jan. 1679).
  • 10. C7/232/19; CSP Dom. 1687-9, p. 401; Dalrymple, Mems. ii. app. i. 215-16; Wood’s Life and Times (Oxf. Hist. Soc. xxvi) 308; PCC 43 Ent.