BERKELEY, John Symes (1663-1736), of Stoke Gifford, nr. Bristol, Glos.

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



1710 - 1715

Family and Education

bap. 1 Feb. 1663, 2nd s. of Richard Berkeley of Stoke Gifford by Elizabeth, da. of Henry Symes of Frampton Cotterel, Glos.  m. (1) 28 Nov. 1695, Susan (d. 1696), da. and h. of Sir Thomas Fowles*, wid. of Jonathan Cope I*, s.p.; (2) 21 Feb. 1717, Elizabeth (d. 1742), da. and coh. of Walter Norborne of Calne, Wilts., wid. of Edward Devereux, 8th Visct. Hereford, 1s. 1da.  suc. bro. 1685.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Gloucester 1712.2


That Berkeley took pride in the ‘ancient’ provenance of his family is apparent from his monumental inscription which recites that the manor of Stoke Gifford, a short distance from Bristol, had been ‘enjoyed by the family some hundred years’. The manor had in fact been acquired by the 14th century, the family having some local pre-eminence by virtue of their distant connexions with their more august namesakes, the Berkeleys of Berkeley Castle and of Bruton, Somerset. John Berkeley inherited the family estates, unexpectedly, on the death of his elder brother in 1685, and later exploited their rich coal deposits. He was appointed to the Gloucestershire lieutenancy in October 1702, but did not emerge as a potential candidate for knight of the shire until 1710 when, as a Tory, his adoption was supported by the Duke of Beaufort. He achieved first place in the poll, and was shortly afterwards classed as a Tory in the ‘Hanover list’. In the Commons his activities are difficult to sort from those of Maurice Berkeley, unless he was accorded his militia rank of colonel, or in cases where there was an obvious Gloucestershire interest. A published list noted him as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who during the 1710–11 session assisted in exposing the mismanagements of the Godolphin administration, and at about the same time he became a member of the October Club. During February and March 1712 he supervised the passage of a bill, requested by the clothiers of Wootton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, to prevent abuses in the manufacture of ‘mixed broadcloth’. In the election of 1713 he retained his seat, again obtaining first place in the poll. He was possibly the ‘Mr Berkeley’ who acted as teller on 21 June 1714 in favour of postponing the report stage of a bill concerned with the encouragement of wool manufacture. In the Worsley list of the 1713 Parliament he appears as a Tory. He made no attempt, however, to remain in the House after the accession of George I. He died on 11 Dec. 1736 at Bath, and was buried at Stoke Gifford. His only son, Norborne Berkeley, sat for Gloucestershire from 1741 until raised to the peerage in 1763 as Lord Botetourt, and in 1740 his daughter married Lord Charles Noel Somerset†, a leading Tory and later 4th Duke of Beaufort.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Rudder, Glos. 698–9; IGI, Glos. and London; CP, ii. 234–5; vi. 481.
  • 2. Gloucester Freemen (Glos. Rec. Ser. iv), 71.
  • 3. Rudder, 698–9; Atkyns, State of Glos. 363; CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 396; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(6), p. 151; Boyer, Pol. State, lii. 648; PCC 1 Wake.