HEATH (afterwards DUKE), John (c.1717-75), of Gittisham, nr. Honiton, Devon.
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Family and Education
b. c.1717, 1st s. of Staplehill Heath of Ottery St. Mary by Anne, da. of Thomas Duke of Otterton, Devon. m. (lic. 17 May 1745) Susanna, da. and eventually h. of William Gill of Honiton, attorney, comptroller of the customs at Chester, s.p. suc. to Otterton under will of his uncle, Richard Duke, taking the name of Duke by Act of Parliament 1751.
Heath came of an Exeter merchant family, owning some land near the city. His mother’s family, also of Exeter origin, held considerable property in south Devonshire, including a moiety of the manor of Ashburton.1 He was returned as a government supporter for Honiton by the influence of his father-in-law William Gill, formerly portreeve (i.e. returning officer) of the borough, who ‘publicly made interest’ for him, by polling paupers and minors, keeping hostile voters drunk and in confinement, and hiring ‘a mob of dissolute fellows from all the neighbouring villages under pretence of getting them appointed constables to keep the peace’, but in reality to prevent voters coming to the poll.2 Unsuccessful at Honiton in 1754 and 1768, he died 3 Nov. 1775, aged 58.