HANBURY, John (c.1665-1734), of Pontypool, Mon. and St. Margaret’s, Westminster, Mdx.

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



Dec. 1701 - 1702
29 Dec. 1702 - 1708
24 Mar. 1720 - 14 June 1734

Family and Education

b. 1664, 1st s. of Capel Hanbury of Pontypool and Hoarstone, Worcs. by his 1st w. Elizabeth, da. of William Capel of Gloucester.  educ. Pembroke, Oxf. 26 Mar. 1681, aged 16; M. Temple 1683.  m. (1) 13 July 1701, Albinia (d. 1702), da. of William Selwyn*, s.p.; (2) lic. 5 July 1703 (with £10,000), Bridget (d. 1741), da. and coh. of Sir Edward Ayscough*, 8s. (3 d.v.p.) 1da.  suc. fa. 1704.1

Offices Held


Hanbury’s family had owned land in Worcestershire since the 12th century. His grandfather appears to have resided mainly in Gloucester, having married the daughter of an alderman, while Hanbury’s father, a younger son, acquired ‘a parcel of waste ground’ at Pontypool in 1655 from the Morgan family, containing a forge which he developed into a prosperous ironworks. However, on his elder brother’s death in 1660, Capel Hanbury also inherited the family estates at Hoarstone and Kidderminster in Worcestershire. His son John was originally intended for a legal career, but was persuaded that he would ‘gain more advantage from the ironworks at Pontypool’. Taking over from his father, he increased production and profits, and as a result of his entrepreneurial zeal new techniques in the manufacture of tin plate and wire were introduced. The profitability of the Pontypool ironworks led him to make his principal residence in the area and to build Pontypool Park. Business success also encouraged him into money-making ventures farther afield: in 1697, for example, he formed a partnership with Sir Humphrey Mackworth* in the ironworks at Ynysgerwn, near Neath. At the time of his first marriage in 1701, his father-in-law, William Selwyn, MP for Gloucester, described him as ‘a man of sense and honour, and very rich, and in a way of being much richer’.2

At the election of December 1701 Hanbury was returned unopposed at Gloucester in place of Selwyn who had lately gone to Jamaica as the island’s governor, and who may well have recommended Hanbury for the seat. He was classed as a ‘gain’ for the Whigs by Lord Spencer (Charles*), although his party identity was not clear to Robert Harley* who in his own analysis of the new House marked him as ‘doubtful’. He did not, however, stand in the general election of 1702, but was successful at a by-election for the city in December. Forecast as a probable opponent of the Tack, he either voted against it on 28 Nov. or was absent. During his campaign to be re-elected in 1705, Hanbury stood bail for one of the Whig agents in the county election who was being victimized in a suit for debt by one of the candidates, Sir Ralph Dutton, 1st Bt.* Sir John Guise, 3rd Bt.*, who stood bail with Hanbury, described him as ‘a man of more than ordinary worth and substance, whose charity and generosity upon this occasion can never be enough praised’. Classed as a ‘Churchman’ in a list published soon afterwards, he voted on 25 Oct. for the Court candidate in the division on the Speaker. He was classed as a Whig in a list produced early in 1708. He did not, however, attempt to regain his seat until 1715, when having failed at Gloucester he expressed his all-round disillusion with politics and wishing himself away from

the stare of party strife, which politic heats on both sides give such different turns to, and seemingly with so much reason that a standerby can hardly make a true judgment until the argument is thrown into a scale; then it’s discernible that either disgust, interest or family principles hath the ballast, is the true motive of discourse, neither edifying or agreeable to society.

He was an intimate of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, the Duke appointing him in March 1722 as an executor under his will, a fact proudly recorded in the inscription set up to Hanbury after his death. He also enjoyed a longstanding connexion with the Wentworths, in particular with the Tory-Jacobite Earl of Strafford, who were cousins of his first wife. In 1720, the year of his election as knight of the shire for Monmouthshire, he inherited a fortune of £70,000 from his friend Charles Williams, part of which he used to purchase Coldbrook Park near Abergavenny. For the remainder of his career in Parliament, he stood among the ranks of independent Whig opponents of Walpole’s ministry, but is not to be confused with the John Hanbury who was a director of the South Sea Company 1724–30. He died on 14 June 1734 and was buried at Trevethan church near Pontypool where a monumental inscription records the importance of his contribution to his locality: ‘his great understanding and humanity made the people of this place rich and happy; and they will tell their children to latest posterity that he was a wise and honest man’. As well as estates in Monmouth, he left land in the city and county of Gloucester and in Brecon, while his second son, the future diplomatist and man of letters, Charles†, succeeded to the Coldbrook estate and assumed the additional surname Williams in honour of its original owner.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Paula Watson / Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. A. A. Locke, Hanbury Fam. 146–52, 157, 159; IGI, Berks.; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 617.
  • 2. Locke, 148–53; P. Jenkins, Making of a Ruling Class, 59; F. Cundall, Govs. Jamaica, 10.
  • 3. Guise Mems. (Cam. Soc. ser. 3, xxviii), 146; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Mellish mss Me 156–95/10, Hanbury to Joseph Mellish, 1 June 1715; Locke 153–7; info. from Prof. J. M. Price; PCC 159 Ockham.