DARKER, John (?1722-84), of Clerkenwell, London, and Gayton, Northants.

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



27 Jan. 1766 - 1768
1774 - 8 Feb. 1784

Family and Education

b. ?1722, s. of John Darker, merchant, of Clerkenwell. m. Mary, da. of John Parker of Retford, Notts., 3da. suc. fa. 1759.

Offices Held


Darker was born at Stoughton in Leicestershire, but by 1749 his father was established as a hop-merchant in Clerkenwell. Darker himself appears to have joined the firm shortly afterwards and remained in business till about 1773, building up a fortune and acquiring considerable property in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.

In 1766 he successfully contested Leicester on the corporation interest.1 In Parliament he seems to have been completely independent: according to John Nichols he ‘was as free within the walls of the House as the passing air’.2 His only recorded vote during this Parliament was with the Opposition on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767.

In 1768 Darker again stood at Leicester as a corporation candidate, but was defeated after a fierce contest. In 1774 and 1780 he was returned unopposed on a compromise between the corporation and the independent interest.3 He voted with the Opposition on America; was listed as ‘pro, present’ on the contractors bill, 12 Feb. 1779; again voted with the Opposition for an account of pensions, 21 Feb. 1780, and Dunning’s motion, 6 Apr. 1780, but voted with Administration on the motion of 24 Apr. against prorogation. Robinson in his electoral survey of July 1780 noted: ‘Mr. Darker shuffles and is a doubtful man especially on any trying question.’ He voted with the Opposition on Conway’s motion against the war, 22 Feb. 1782, but does not appear in any of the other extant lists of the critical divisions preceding the fall of North: he was reported to be away ill on 15 Mar. He voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; did not vote on Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, but in Robinson’s list of January 1784 was classed as ‘very hopeful’.

Darker, writes Nichols,4 was ‘particularly active in all committees relating to trade and commerce’, but he is only reported to have spoken once in the House, on 12 May 1780, when he moved for the second reading of a bribery election bill.5

He died 8 Feb. 1784.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: I. R. Christie


  • 1. R. W. Greaves, Corporation of Leicester, 103.
  • 2. Leics. iv. 405.
  • 3. Greaves, 104-5.
  • 4. Lit. Anecs. iii. 622-3.
  • 5. Almon, xvii. 698.