HEDWORTH, John (1683-1747), of Chester Deanery, Durham

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



1713 - 31 May 1747

Family and Education

bap. 10 July 1683, 1st surv. s. of Ralph Hedworth of Chester Deanery by Eleanor, da. of Henry Lambton of Lambton Hall, co. Dur. educ. Lincoln, Oxf. 1700; M. Temple 1700.  m. (1) settlement 28 Aug. 1714, Susanna Sophia, da. of William Pleasant, merchant, of London, 1da.; (2) 14 Aug. 1729, Margaret (d. 1731), da. and coh. of Samuel Ayton of West Herrington, co. Dur., 1da.  suc. fa. 1705.1

Offices Held

Mayor, Hartlepool 1716–17, 1728–9, 1740–1; freeman, Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1731.2


The Hedworths had been established at Harraton, Durham since the 13th century, and a cadet branch was established at Chester-le-Street in 1614 when a younger son was granted Chester Deanery by the crown. The wealth and status of the Hedworths of Harraton stemmed in part from their involvement in coal mining, which dated back to at least the beginning of the 16th century, and though the fortunes of the main branch declined during the 17th century, those of the Hedworths of Chester Deanery steadily improved, owing, in large part, to their colliery interests. Hedworth’s stature in the Durham coal industry became apparent in the years following his succession to his father’s estates, and it was he who was approached by Northumberland’s coal owners in the early months of 1711 when they sought to gain the support of their Durham counterparts in opposing a bill, then pending in the Commons, to prevent combinations in the coal trade. His status in the locality is further indicated by his unopposed return for Durham in 1713. On 18 Mar. 1714 he voted against the expulsion of Richard Steele. He was not, however, a particularly active Member, though in the spring he was lobbied to oppose a petition that William Wrightson* intended to present to the House, requesting that the way-leaves on the Tyne be made free. His legislative concerns were confined to the drafting stage of a bill enabling the endowment of poor vicarages (1 May). His politics seem to have been something of a mystery to contemporaries: he was classed in the Worsley list as a Whig who often voted with the Tories, and as a Whig and a Tory respectively in two other contemporary lists. Hedworth continued to sit for Durham until his death, demonstrating himself to be an independent Whig, and died on 31 May 1747 ‘of a violent colic’. His estate passed to his two daughters.3

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Surtees, Dur. iii. 151.
  • 2. Reg. of Freemen (Newcastle-upon-Tyne Rec. Soc. vi), 172.
  • 3. Hutchinson, Dur. iii. p. xxi; Surtees, 178–84; J. Hatcher, Hist. Brit. Coal Industry, i. 261; E. Hughes, N. Country Life, i. 176, 181, 290–2; Gent. Mag. 1747, p. 296.