COMYNS, John (c.1667-1740), of Highlands, nr. Maldon, Essex.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1701 - 1708
1710 - 20 May 1715
1722 - 7 Nov. 1726

Family and Education

b. c.1667, 1st surv. s. of William Comyns, barrister, of L. Inn by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Matthew Rudd of Little Baddow, Essex. educ. Queens’, Camb. 1683; L. Inn 1683, called 1690. m. (1) lic. 21 Apr. 1693, Anne (d. 28 Feb. 1705), da. and coh. of Dr. Nathaniel Gurdon, rector of Chelmsford, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) lic. 20 Oct. 1708, Elizabeth Courthope of Kent; (3) Anne Wilbraham. suc. fa. 1686. Kntd. 8 Nov. 1726.

Offices Held

Recorder, Maldon; serjeant-at-law 1705; counsel to George II as Prince of Wales; baron of the Exchequer (£1,500 p.a.) 7 Nov. 1726; justice of common pleas 1736; chief baron of the Exchequer (£2,000 p.a.) 1738-d.


In 1736 Comyns, a Queen Anne Tory who went over to the Whigs in the next reign, described his political and legal career after 1715 to Lord Hardwicke, to whom he was applying to be made chief baron of the Exchequer in the event of its falling vacant.

In the late King’s reign, being turned out of Parliament for want of qualification, I was discarded by almost all the Tories, but went quietly on with my business till I gained by my practice about £3,000 a year, pleased I should never be thought of for any judicial place, which I had neither expectation nor inclination to obtain.

In 1722

by the earnest entreaties of both parties and repeated importunities of Sir Robert Raymond, who thought it would not be disagreeable to the ministry, particularly to Sir Robert Walpole, I came into Parliament again, and as I had voted against his being sent to the Tower or expelled the House [in 1712] I thought it not improbable I might have some share in his favour and to him attributed chiefly my being counsel for his present Majesty when Prince, the withdrawing the petition in Parliament against me [in 1723], and my being placed on the bench, nor do I know I ever did anything could justly disoblige him. It is true I showed not so ready a compliance as might be expected to the honour offered of bringing me into Parliament elsewhere, but had reasons for it, which, if he knew, I am sure he must approve. I was very averse to be in the Exchequer but Sir Robert Raymond told me, it was his desire and solicitation I might be on the bench, and he had promised he would not ask for one court more than another, and tho’ done without my privity, pressed me to accept it and I might after be preferred.1

The vacancy not then occurring, he obtained a transfer to the common pleas, from which he was promoted to be head of the court of Exchequer two years later.

Comyns died 13 Nov. 1740, aged 73. Two works which had been the labour of his life were published posthumously: in 1744 his Reports of Cases adjudged in the courts of King’s Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer; and in 1762 A Digest of the Laws of England, ‘acknowledged to be the most accurate, methodical, and comprehensive abridgment of the law, profound in its learning and easy of reference to the authorities cited’.2

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Add. 35585, f. 309.
  • 2. Foss, English Judges, viii. 114.