BROWNLOW, Sir John, 3rd Bt. (1659-97), of Hammersmith; Pall Mall, London, and Belton, Lincs.

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



1689 - 16 July 1697

Family and Education

b. 26 June 1659, 1st s. of Sir Richard Brownlow, 2nd Bt., of Humby by Elizabeth, da. of John Freke† of Cerne Abbas, Dorset; bro. of William Brownlow*.  educ. Westminster 1675; I. Temple 1676.  m. 27 Mar. 1676, Alice (d. 1721), da. of Richard Sherard of Lobthorpe, Lincs., 1s. d.v.p. 6da. (1 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 1668; gt.-uncle Sir John Brownlow, 1st Bt., to Belton 1679.1

Offices Held

Treasurer of Marshalsea, 1686–7.

Sheriff, Lincs., Nov. 1688–Mar. 1689.

Commr. Greenwich Hospital, 1695.2


Brownlow succeeded his father when only nine years old, living with his mother until 1675 when his great-uncle Sir John Brownlow, 1st Bt., took over all his expenses, sent him to school at Westminster, and arranged a marriage with his cousin. As the principal heir of his great-uncle in 1679, he became a wealthy man with an annual income of £9,000 p.a., whereupon he bought a house for £5,000 in Southampton Square, London, and from 1685 to 1688 rebuilt Belton, his main seat, situated only two miles from Grantham. In 1689 he may have already been suffering from gout and the stone (afflictions which severely limited his parliamentary activity), as in July he made a detailed settlement of his property and wrote his will.3

The Brownlows were Parliamentarians during the Civil War and office-holders during the Interregnum but quickly reconciled themselves to the Restoration regime. Brownlow himself apparently had some Tory sympathies under Charles II and James II and in the Convention was listed as voting to agree with the Lords that the throne was not vacant but also as voting for the disabling clause in the corporation bill of January 1690. The latter vote is usually said to be a mistake for his brother William, a definite Whig, but on Brownlow’s re-election for Grantham in 1690, he was classed first as ‘doubtful’ and finally as a Whig in the Marquess of Carmarthen’s (Sir Thomas Osborne†) list of the new Parliament. On 26 Apr. 1690 he was given leave of absence for 21 days. In April 1691 he was classed as a Country party supporter by Robert Harley*. He spoke on 8 Jan. 1692 against the bill for lessening the interest on money, and received leave of absence six days later for a month to recover his health.4

In the 1692–3 session, Brownlow was appointed on 16 Dec. to the drafting committee of a bill for the better regulation and payment of quarters and the punishment of mutineers and deserters. On 6 Feb. 1693 he presented a petition from the inhabitants of Newark against the election of the Court Whig Sir Francis Molyneux, 4th Bt.*, whose opponent, Sir Richard Earle, was from a Parliamentarian family. On 9 Feb. he made a speech in support of the triennial bill and on the 17th Luttrell records that he had leave to go into the country, although this is not to be found in the Journals. He appeared in the House at the beginning of the 1694–5 session, but by 18 Dec. was seriously ill, his brother being given leave to visit him, and he probably took little further part in parliamentary activities that session.5

Despite Brownlow’s opposition to the Court in Parliament, he entertained William ‘very nobly’ at Belton during the King’s tour of Lincolnshire in October 1695, when he

killed 12 fat oxen and 60 sheep, besides other victuals, for his entertainment, and made the most of him and his followers that can be imagined. The King was exceeding merry there, and drank very freely . . . The King said Brownlow entertained him like a prince . . . and has sent for him to London, to honour him the more, and to requite him for his kindness.

If William had any hopes that personal attention would change Brownlow’s political stance he was soon disappointed, since Brownlow was forecast as likely to oppose the Court on 31 Jan. 1696 over the proposed council of trade. He did, however, sign the Association in February and his name was missing from the lists on the divisions on the price of guineas in March and the attainder of Sir John Fenwick† in November: it is possible that, although he still could not bring himself to support the Court, he did not wish to appear with opposition after the discovery of the Assassination Plot. In June that year, the ‘country people’, including local ‘officers, constables and churchwardens’, marched on Brownlow’s house, shouting loyal slogans and demanding his help, they and their families ‘being all fit to starve’. The crowd was not entirely satisfied with Brownlow’s first offering of £15 of ‘old milled money’, being ‘thankful but . . . it was so little, they might be forced out of necessity to come and see him again’, Brownlow then threw open his cellars and many loyal toasts were drunk.6

Brownlow’s suffering from gout and the stone finally became unbearable and, on 16 July 1697, while staying with his uncle, Thomas Freke I*, in Dorset, he shot himself. The coroner’s jury found him non compos mentis, to enable the estates to stay in the family. By his marriage settlement, Belton was retained by his widow for her life and then entailed on his brother, William. The remainder of Brownlow’s fortune, estimated at £10,000 p.a. and £60,000 in ready money, was left to his five surviving daughters, one of whom married her cousin, Sir John Brownlow, 5th Bt.*, while another three married into the nobility. His monument described him as ‘a great ornament to his country in his public capacity and no less conspicuous in his private one’.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Sonya Wynne


  • 1. E. Cust, Recs. Cust Fam. ii. 72, 140-4, 148; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 161b, Gaultier to the Earl of Portland, 23 July/2 Aug. 1697
  • 2. Add. 10120, ff. 232–6.
  • 3. Cust, 143–7.
  • 4. Ibid. 60, 113–14, 127–8, 148; Luttrell Diary, 117.
  • 5. Luttrell Diary, 402, 415, 427.
  • 6. Pryme Diary (Surtees Soc. liv), 73–74, 95–96; Add. 28879, f. 250.
  • 7. Cust, 146, 150–1, 155; CSP Dom. 1697, pp. 264, 293–4; Portland (Bentinck) mss PwA 161b, Gaultier to Portland, 23 July/2 Aug. 1697; BL, Trumbull Misc. mss 58, John Ellis* to Sir William Trumbull*, 20, 22 July 1697; Centre Kentish Stud. Stanhope mss U1590/059/6 Robert Yard* to Alexander Stanhope, 27 July 1697.