BULLOCK, John (1731-1809), of Faulkbourne Hall, nr. Witham, Essex

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1754 - 1774
28 Nov. 1780 - 1784
1784 - 28 Dec. 1809

Family and Education

b. 31 Dec. 1731, 1st surv. s. of Josiah Bullock, Hamburg merchant, of Faulkbourne Hall by Hannah, da. of Sir Thomas Cooke, M.P., director E.I. Co. educ. Felsted; Clare, Camb. 1749; L. Inn 1750. m. 28 Nov. 1763, Elizabeth, da. and h. of Robert Lant of Putney, s.p. suc. fa. 1752.

Offices Held


At the turn of the century, Bullock’s paternal grandfather had sat for Essex, a great-uncle for Maldon, and his maternal grandfather for Colchester.

In 1754 Bullock, supported by John Strutt and other Essex Tories, contested Maldon against two Government candidates, and topped the poll. He was listed by Dupplin as an Opposition Whig; but next approached Newcastle through Sir John Ligonier and George Townshend who, on 14 July 1755, recommended Bullock to the Duke as a man ‘in whom you can deposit that confidence and power which every one who proposes to establish an interest in a corporation town is desirous of having on his side’.1 His name does not appear in the list of Whigs who on 13 Nov. 1755 voted against the Address.2

Bullock also seemed desirous of standing well with  his kinsman, the Duke of Bedford, who, after having been since June 1751 in opposition to the Pelhams, was now veering toward the Government.3 On 4 Dec. 1755, Rigby wrote to Bedford:4

Bullock was with me this morning, and very desirous to know your Grace’s opinion of the treaties [with Russia and Hesse-Cassel]. I explained as well as I could to a very good-natured fox-hunting boy, your sentiments upon them ... he seems as if he would be very well satisfied with your opinion only, and be glad to be of the same.5

In 1761 Bullock joined Colebrooke as a Government candidate. ‘If this measure gives you offense’, he wrote to Strutt on 15 Jan., ‘I am sorry for it, but assure you I shall always remember the favours you shewed me last election.’6 Gascoyne stood against them, and Colebrooke was defeated. In October Bullock was sent Newcastle’s parliamentary whip through Bedford, and in Bute’s list of December 1761 is marked ‘Bedford and Government’. He is not in Fox’s list of Members in favour of the peace preliminaries, December 1762, but did not vote against them. After 1763 he no longer had any connexion with Bedford, but drifted towards the Rockinghams. In the autumn of 1763 Jenkinson classed him as ‘doubtful’; he voted against Government over general warrants, 15 and 18 Feb. 1764, belonged to Wildman’s Club, and was counted among the ‘sure friends’ by Newcastle, 10 May 1764. He voted with Opposition on Meredith’s motion on general warrants, 29-30 Jan. 17657; was classed as ‘pro’ by Rockingham in July 1765, and probably voted for the repeal of the Stamp Act.8 In November 1766 Rockingham listed him as ‘Whig’; Charles Townshend in January 1767 as ‘Government’, but Newcastle in March 1767 as ‘doubtful or absent’—which seems more nearly correct: he was absent from the division on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, and that on the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768. But when at the Chelmsford assizes in Mar. 1767 an address was voted expressing satisfaction at the land tax having been reduced by a shilling, Bullock ‘declared his sorrow for not attending and his hearty concurrence in ... the address’.9

In 1768 Bullock fought his third contest at Maldon and won a decisive, though expensive, victory. When in the House, he voted with Opposition, but his name appears in only four out of 13 minority division lists in that Parliament.

He was averse to a fourth contest at Maldon. In 1774 the bills for the last election were still unpaid, and Bullock found that he was expected to pay also the share of John Huske, his colleague in 1768 who had since died. Thomas Coe, one of the principal Dissenters at Maldon, told Bullock that ‘he must not think of coming to Maldon unless he paid all the bills’, to which Bullock replied ‘that was damned hard indeed’;10 and on 28 Sept., ‘foreseeing great trouble, expense, and uncertainty in so long a canvass’, announced he would not stand.11

Two days later Parliament was dissolved

Indeed I hoped [wrote Bullock to Portland12] to have got in somewhere else upon easier if not upon cheaper terms. I do not at this minute know what I can do, but will consult with my friends whether I can with propriety now offer myself but I fear not. If your Grace knows of any place that is to be got at I would most gladly comply with almost any proposal. Chase Price I believe hath an offer of Leominster, might I presume so far as to beg your Grace’s interest with him?

He was willing to pay £3000;13 and looked to Portland to find him a constituency.14

In 1780 he was suggested by Portland for one of the seats which Edward Eliot had placed at the disposal of the Opposition but, wrote Portland to Rockingham on 14 Aug.:‘I am not satisfied ... in respect to his being prepared in due time.’ He was returned for Steyning on the Honywood interest; voted against North’s Administration 12 Dec. 1781 and 20 Feb. 1782, paired on the Opposition side 27 Feb. 1782, and was absent from the division of 15 Mar. He did not vote on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, but was classed by Robinson among ‘Mr. Fox’s connexions’. He voted for parliamentary reform, 7 May 1783, was absent from the division on Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov., but was classed by John Robinson in January, by Stock-dale in March, and by Adam in May 1784, as in opposition to Pitt.

He was elected for Essex without a contest in 1784, voted for parliamentary reform, 18 Apr. 1785, but otherwise continued to vote against Pitt.

There is no record of his having spoken in any of the five Parliaments he sat in before 1790.

He died 28 Dec. 1809.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Add. 32857, ff. 103-4.
  • 2. Add. 33034, f. 208.
  • 3. Bedford Corresp. ii. 177.
  • 4. On 10 Dec. Bedford spoke for the treaties; see Walpole Mems. Geo. II, ii. 104.
  • 5. Strutt mss.
  • 6. Bamber Gascoyne to John Strutt, 31 Jan. 1765, Strutt mss.
  • 7. Same to same, 8 Feb. 1766: ‘I think Bullock ... divided against us.’ Ibid.
  • 8. Same to same, 12 Mar. 1767, ibid.
  • 9. Thomas Cooch to John Strutt [Sept. 1774], ibid.
  • 10. Bullock to Portland, 30 Sept. 1774, Portland mss.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. Same to same, 23 Oct. 1774, ibid.
  • 13. Same to same, 19 Dec. 1774, ibid.
  • 14. Rockingham mss.