COPE, Sir John (1673-1749), of Bramshill, Hants.
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Family and Education
bap. 1 Dec. 1673, 1st s. of Sir John Cope, 5th Bt. M.P., of Hanwell, Oxon., director of Bank of England 1695-8, 1700-2, by Anne, da. of Philip Booth. educ. Oriel, Oxf. 1689. m. 1696, Alice, da. of Sir Humphrey Monoux, 2nd Bt., M.P., of Wootton, Beds., 2s. 1da. Kntd. 26 Jan. 1696. suc. fa. as 6th Bt. 11 Jan. 1721.
Director, Bank of England 1706-21 (with statutory intervals); commr. of the equivalent 1707-15.
Owing to a matrimonial misalliance by Cope’s father, the family estate of Hanwell was entailed so as to descend not to any child of the marriage but to another branch of the family1 (see Cope, Sir Jonathan). Thus deprived of the paternal estate Cope, who like his father seems to have gone into business in London, bought in 1701 an estate in Hampshire, which became the family seat.2
In 1696 Cope married the sister of Sir Philip Monoux, M.P. for Bedford, whose family seem to have been closely connected with successive Dukes of Bedford. At the 1708 general election he was returned by the Duke of Bedford for Tavistock. He continued to represent Tavistock till 1727, when he was re-elected but chose to sit for Hampshire, being succeeded at Tavistock by his nephew, Sir Humphrey Monoux.
In the first Parliament of George I, Cope in 1716 moved the repeal of the clause in the Act of Settlement restraining the King from leaving his dominions without the consent of Parliament, which was carried unanimously and passed into law.3 Voting against the Sunderland Government in all recorded divisions, he is described as unexpectedly joining Walpole in opposing the repeal of the Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts in 1719.4 On 1 Feb. 1722 he ‘set the House in a flame’ by accusing Sir Francis Page, a baron of the Exchequer, of trying to corrupt the corporation of Banbury in order to procure the election of Sir William Codrington against Cope’s eldest son, Monoux Cope. When the charge was heard at the bar of the House Cope added fuel to the flame by asserting that some of the witnesses had been tampered with, but in the end Page escaped by four votes.5 In the next Parliament, on 11 Mar. 1723, he seconded the government motion charging Atterbury with being a principal to the Jacobite conspiracy. On 20 Jan. 1725 he made an attack on masquerades, observing
that if luxury and vice were the produce of places and pensions, the wives and daughters of the representatives were the fittest company for masquerades; but there was a great laugh and so it ended.
Speaking on the civil list on 9 Apr. 1725, he renewed his attack upon places and pensions, saying that
he would give his consent to it on these terms only, that the number of officers should be limited in the House, and that it should be high treason to take a pension and not to register it.
In the debate of 20 Apr. 1725 on Bolingbroke’s application to be restored to his family inheritance, Cope called him
an enemy to God and man, and that this was popery in masquerade ... and said if those gentlemen are in earnest to support the King on the throne and maintain the Protestant succession and was going on to say something that he might have been called to the bar for, but somebody pulled him down and he left off in great confusion.6
In the 1727 Parliament Cope did not vote on the civil list arrears in 1729, but supported the Government consistently in subsequent recorded divisions. In 1732 he chaired the committee appointed by Walpole to investigate the frauds and abuses in the customs as a preliminary to the introduction of his excise bill,7 after which he headed Walpole’s list of nominees for a similar committee demanded by the Opposition.8 In 1734 he did not offer himself for re-election for Hampshire on account of the expense9 but was returned for Lymington, continuing to support the Administration till he retired. He died 8 Dec. 1749.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Shirley Matthews
- 1. T. E. Sharpe, A Royal Descent, ii. 57 and notes.
- 2. PCC 93 Plymouth; Sharpe, op. cit.
- 3. Coxe, Walpole, i. 77.
- 4. HMC Portland, v. 576.
- 5. J. H. Plumb, Walpole, i. 371-3.
- 6. Knatchbull Diary.
- 7. Coxe, Walpole, i. 379.
- 8. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 367.
- 9. Duchess of Marlborough to John Spencer, 13 Dec. 1732, Marlborough mss.