HARDRES, John (1675-1758), of St. George’s, Canterbury.

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



1705 - 1708
1710 - 1722

Family and Education

bap. 2 Oct. 1675, 1st s. of Thomas Hardres of Canterbury by Mary, da. and h. of John Short of Hartlip, Kent.  educ. G. Inn 1689; Wadham, Oxf. 1692.  m. 4 Mar. 1700, Anne Tomlinson, 2s. d.v.p. 7da. (5 d.v.p.).  suc. fa. 1688.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Canterbury 1700; capt. Sandown Castle, Kent ?1705–1710, 1713–1715.2


The Hardres family had a long association with Canterbury, one ancestor having represented the borough in three of Richard II’s Parliaments. Hardres’ own grandfather, a lawyer, also sat for Canterbury under Charles II. After a conventional education, Hardres himself may have envisaged a diplomatic career, a document dated May 1697 listing him among the ‘young plenipos’ at Ryswick. In April of that year Hardres and Thomas Ginder, another whose name was on this list, were issued with passes to travel to Holland. Perhaps the trip was more in the way of an educational experience, because Hardres failed to progress to a responsible post in the diplomatic service. His local links no doubt explain his admission gratis in 1700 to the freedom of Canterbury, and he was clearly of sufficient status to be advanced to the commission of the peace in February 1702.3

Hardres was returned for Canterbury at the 1705 election. On an analysis of the new Parliament he was classed as a ‘Churchman’, an assessment confirmed by the post-election calculations of the Earl of Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) who reckoned Hardres’ return as a loss for the Whigs. He duly voted on 25 Oct. 1705 against the Court candidate for Speaker. On both parliamentary lists of early 1708, the second including the 1708 election returns, he was classed as a Tory. Defeated at the polls in 1708, Hardres returned to the Commons in the Tory triumph of 1710. He was listed as a Tory on the ‘Hanover list’, as a ‘worthy patriot’ who in the 1710–11 session helped to detect the mismanagements of the previous administration, and as a member of the October Club. The first session saw the passage through the House of a private Act enabling Hardres and his wife to sell a farm in Gillingham for the settlement of a debt, the surplus to be used to purchase other lands for the same purpose, as set out in their marriage settlement. His own contribution to the session was to manage a local estate bill through the House. A paper written by Robert Harley*, dated 11 June 1711, suggests that Hardres was in line for a place in the ministry. However, he was not appointed as captain of Sandown Castle until July 1713. In the 1711–12 session he acted twice as a teller: on 8 May 1712 against a motion that William Wallis* was duly elected Member for Steyning; and on the 17th in favour of an unsuccessful motion for a bill for the relief of several importers of Portuguese wine. The name ‘Major Hardres’ (after his rank in the militia) appeared on a canvassing list in Robert Harley’s hand, probably relating to the attack on the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) in January 1712; here his name was grouped with that of Henry Lee*, and the canvassing entrusted to the Earl of Winchilsea and Edmund Lambert* (who presumably knew Lee through the Hindon connexion). In the final session of the 1710 Parliament Hardres voted on 18 June 1713 in favour of the French commerce bill. Re-elected in 1713, he was classed as a Tory on the Worsley list, and on two other analyses of the 1713 and 1715 Parliaments.4

Canterbury’s Tories remained loyal to Hardres, his name being coupled with that of Lee as a popular catch-cry during the coronation riots. Re-elected as a Tory in 1715, he retained his place on the bench despite an extensive purge of the Kentish commission of the peace, and indeed remained a j.p. until his death. This in itself must cast doubt upon the veracity of claims that he was a Jacobite (based on his inclusion on a list of potential supporters sent to the Pretender in 1721). Moreover, his financial needs brought him into dependence on the Earl of Sunderland, who between May 1721 and March 1722 paid him at least £580 in secret service money. Perhaps because of penury, Hardres withdrew from the Commons at the 1722 election, but he lived on in retirement until 14 Jan. 1758. His only son to survive to maturity, also John, became a barrister, but died in 1742 after reputedly catching a cold attending the Commons in connexion with the hearing in the Chippenham election case which precipitated Walpole’s (Robert II*) resignation. Hardres was therefore succeeded by his two surviving daughters, both unmarried.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Authors: Basil Duke Henning / Stuart Handley


  • 1. Gent. Mag. 1787, p. 384; St. George’s, Canterbury Reg. 45; Add. 33920, f. 56; IGI, London.
  • 2. Canterbury Freemen Roll ed. Cowper, 318; Post Boy, 23–25 July 1713.
  • 3. HMC 6th Rep. 391; CSP Dom. 1697, p. 94; info. from Prof. N. Landau.
  • 4. HMC Lords, n.s. ix. 102–3; Post Boy, 23–25 July 1713; Add. 70332, memo. 4 June 1711; 70331, canvassing list, c.1712.
  • 5. P. Monod, Jacobitism and Eng. People, 174; L. K. J. Glassey, Appt. JPs, 247; info. from Prof. Landau; P. S. Fritz, Ministers and Jacobitism 1715–45, p. 150; Add. 61602, ff. 118–19, 134; Gent. Mag. 1787, p. 309.