BENCE, John (1670-1718), of Heveningham, Suff.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



8 Dec. 1691 - 1695
1702 - 1708

Family and Education

bap. 27 Sept. 1670, 1st s. of Edmund Bence of Benhall, Suff. by Mary, da. of Robert Yallop of Thorpe next Norwich, Norf.  educ. St. Catharine’s, Camb. 1685.  m. by 1692, Catherine, da. of Sir Sackville Glemham of Glemham Hall, Little Glemham, Suff., sis. of Thomas Glemham*, 1da. d.v.psuc. fa. 1702.1

Offices Held

Bailiff, Aldeburgh 1690; freeman, Dunwich 1691, bailiff 1691–2, alderman 1692–4, common councilman 1710; common councilman, Orford 1692.2


While still a minor, Bence served as bailiff of Aldeburgh and in that capacity assisted the brothers Sir Henry* and William Johnson* in the 1690 election. In return the Johnsons helped him in financial and business matters and probably supported him when he stood in 1691 against the Whig Henry Heveningham* in a by-election at Dunwich. There was a double return, but on 8 Dec. 1691 the House decided in Bence’s favour. He proved an inactive Member, being ordered into custody on 2 Jan. 1693 for non-attendance, and lost his seat at the next election.3

Having bought the manor of Heveningham in about 1700, Bence came into Parliament again in 1702, for Ipswich. He voted for the Tack on 28 Nov. 1704, as had been forecast, and was granted leave of absence on 21 Dec. Classed as ‘True Church’ in an analysis of the 1705 Parliament, he gave his vote against the Court candidate for Speaker on 25 Oct. 1705. He was listed as a Tory in two lists of 1708, but did not stand at the general election of that year. Nevertheless, he ‘was every day engaged in election work’ on behalf of Tories in several corporations in Suffolk. He was still active the following year in support of Sir Edward Turnor’s* interest in Orford, and the Tory cause in the county. He contested Aldeburgh in 1713 against his former friends the Johnsons but was well beaten.4

Bence died on 18 Oct. 1718 and was buried at Heveningham. Although survived by a grandson, he left the bulk of his property in Suffolk to his brother Alexander, together with legacies of over £3,000 to other members of his family and £1,500 to his ‘friend’ Miss Katherine Hooke, who had nursed him in his last illness. His son-in-law, Sir William Barker, 5th Bt.*, received 100 guineas; his grandson John, the future 6th Bt., £1,000. Heveningham was sold off.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. T. S. Hill, Recs. Thorington, 102–3, 107–8, ped.; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. lxxxvi), 250; Copinger, Suff. Manors, v. 128.
  • 2. W. Suss. RO, Shillinglee mss Ac.454/893, 904, 906, 953, 956, Edward Pratt to Sir Edward Turnor*, 18 Mar. 1689[–90], 12 Nov. 1692, [1] Oct. 1693, Nathaniel Gooding to Turnor, 15 Nov., 10 Dec. 1692; Suff. RO (Ipswich), EE6 1144/13, pp. 72, 77; 1144/14; T. Gardner, Dunwich (1754), 85.
  • 3. Shillinglee mss Ac.454/897, Pratt to Turnor, 29 Oct. 1691; Add. 22186, ff. 62–65, 69.
  • 4. Copinger, ii. 96; Shillinglee mss Ac.454/1231, 1242, 1082, Bence to Turnor, 10 May 1708, 2 Sept. 1709, John Hooke to Turnor, 15 Sept. 1709; Add. 22248, ff. 13–14.
  • 5. Hill, 108; PCC 77 Browning; Copinger, ii. 96.