DELAVAL, John (1728-1808), of Doddington, Lincs. and Seaton Delaval, Northumb.

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



18 Jan. 1765 - 1774
1780 - 21 Aug. 1786

Family and Education

b. 17 Mar. 1728, 2nd s. of Francis Blake Delaval, M.P., by Rhoda, da. of Robert Apreece of Washingley, Hunts. and gd.-da. and h. of Sir Thomas Hussey, 2nd Bt., of Doddington; bro. of Sir Francis Blake Delaval (q.v.).  educ. Westminster 1737-45; Pembroke, Camb. 1746.  m. (1) 2 Apr. 1750, his cos. Susanna (d. 1 Oct. 1783), da. of R. Robinson of Gateshead, co. Dur. by Margaret, da. of Edward Delaval, wid. of John Potter, 1s. d.v.p. 6da.; (2) 5 Jan. 1803, Susanna Elizabeth Knight, s.psuc. mother to Hussey estate of Doddington 9 Aug. 1759, and took add. name of Hussey before Delaval; bro. 7 Aug. 1771.  cr. Bt. 1 July 1761; Baron Delaval [I] 17 Oct. 1783; Baron Delaval [GB] 21 Aug. 1786.

Offices Held


In 1754 Delaval successfully contested Berwick against John Wilkes who received Administration support from Newcastle, incensed by the Delavals' attack on his own interest at Newark. In Dupplin's lists Delaval was consequently classed as ‘against’, and Wilkes's defeat defeat as a ‘loss’. When in November 1754 Wilkes petitioned against the return on grounds of bribery, Delaval replied with a flippant speech ‘full of wit, humour, and buffoonery, which kept the House in a roar’, but brought him a sharp rebuke from Pitt.1 Delaval's opposition was shortlived; and on Fox becoming secretary of state, he was sent Fox's parliamentary whip.2

In 1755, on a crisis in the financial affairs of Delaval's elder brother Francis, the management of his estate was placed in the hands of John Delaval who seems to have undertaken the task with energy and ability. In 1759 Thomas Watson wrote to Newcastle about the Berwick burgesses resenting Delaval's ‘neglect of them since the last election’,3 and on 16 Sept. 1760 William Temple, collector of customs, reported4 that Thomas Watson and Col. John Craufurd had offered themselves as candidates twelve months previously, but ‘Mr. Delaval never appeared, nor was expected to appear’. Shortly after this Delaval approached Craufurd about standing jointly at Berwick, but withdrew when this suggestion was rejected. On 19 Jan. 1761 Lord Northumberland, Delaval's political patron, wrote to Newcastle that he was anxious to find a seat for him5

and as I know him to be firmly attached to your Grace, and that no reasonable expense will be objected to, I should esteem it a particular favour if your Grace would be pleased to recommend him to a borough where he may be chosen till a vacancy happens at Berwick where his interest I believe is firmly established.

Delaval did not stand in 1761. After Newcastle's resignation, Northumberland approached Grenville about a seat for him; Grenville replied on 28 Oct. 1763 that he had heard from Francis Delaval that his brother did not think of leaving the north and was ‘not much disposed to engage in any election that is likely to be contested’.6 However, on the death of Col. Craufurd in 1764, Grenville suggested that there was a ‘fair prospect’ at Berwick for Delaval, to whom he would give his support.7 Northumberland wrote back, 22 Nov.:8

I am certain I can answer for his being a steady and useful friend to Government and firmly attached to you, and I have no doubt that the honour and weight of your support added to his own interest will procure him an easy and quiet election.

But Delaval was opposed by Wilmot Vaughan, nephew of Thomas Watson (who had long had the distribution of patronage in the borough), and according to Watson9 secured his seat ‘by the most notorious bribery’ and ‘many extraordinary exertions’ of Government power and influence. The election, he claimed, cost Delaval ‘not less than six or eight thousand pounds’.

Delaval's first reported vote in this Parliament was against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766. He voted with the Chatham Administration on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, and nullum tempus, 17 Feb. 1768. In 1768 Delaval seems to have thought of standing for the county,10 but finally stood again for Berwick where he was returned unopposed. He voted with Administration on Wilkes, 3 Feb. and 8 May 1769, but does not appear in any other divisions before 6 May 1772 when he voted in favour of hearing the petition on the 39 Articles. Horace Walpole writes11 that during the disgrace of the Duke of Cumberland after his marriage to Mrs. Horton, the Duke's ‘intimates’, Delaval and his wife, ‘were the sole persons of a rank above the vulgar who went near’. In both Robinson's surveys on the royal marriage bill, March 1772, Delaval is marked as ‘contra, present’; he voted with Opposition on the commitment of the royal marriage bill, 11 Mar. 1772; on the naval captains' petition, 9 Feb. 1773, and on the Middlesex election, 26 Apr. 1773. Only three interventions by Delaval are reported during this Parliament, none of any note.

In 1774, while professing independence, Delaval stood for Northumberland with the support fo the Duke of Northumberland, and was defeated, his candidature being looked upon in the county as an attempt by the Duke to nominate to both seats. He does not appear to have attempted to re-enter Parliament before 1780, when he was returned unopposed for Berwick. He constantly supported Administration till the fall of North. During the debate of 12 Dec. 1781 on Lowther's motion against the war he said that anxious as he was for the end of the war he had thought of abstaining, but North's answer to the motion had satisfied him; he hoped the House ‘would not make so timid a declaration, as we will not any longer carry it on; he thought it was wise and necessary to abandon it, but it would be imprudent and impolitic to declare it by a vote of the House’. On 8 Mar. 1782, he ‘rose ... as a country gentleman just to say that he had a high opinion of his Majesty's ministers’, and on 20 Mar., after North's resignation, he paid North a tribute, ‘which would have, he said, a stronger effect from the obvious disinterestedness of panegyric pronounced on a minister in the moment of his retiring from power’. Delaval voted against Shelburne's peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; supported the Coalition, which obtained for him an Irish peerage; did not vote on Fox's East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, but during the debate of 16 Jan. 1784 on Pitt's bill ‘spoke in favour of Lord North, and of the bill which had been rejected’. On 3 Feb. 1784 he supported a motion of censure against Pitt's Administration:

It was folly to expect a ministry could stand when unsupported by the House of Commons, and it was equal folly in any set of men to expect support from that House, who owed their situations to means the most repugnant to every idea of the constitution. There was nothing in the motion which in the smallest degree affected the character of the right honourable gentleman over the way; it did not in any way exclude him from a future arrangement, let him ... quit the situation that he owes to means which this House condemns, let him then come in at the door fairly and openly in the face of the world and not by dark passages and back stairs, and we will receive him with open arms.12

At the general election Delaval was again returned unopposed for Berwick. On 24 May, shortly after the House reassembled, he

astonished a great many by a very warm, explicit declaration that he had, in the last Parliament, opposed Mr Pitt. as a supposed minister of secret influence, but having now heard so unequivocally from the people themselves that he was their minister, he should most heartily obey their voice, and give him all the support he deserved.13

Delaval's action was severely criticised by Opposition. On 16 July he replied in the House that what had been said

as to his having altered an opinion, was true, and that he gloried in it; he should always hold himself open to conviction; that he voted with the majority of the present Parliament because he was sure they spoke the sense of the people ... If the people of Great Britain were at any time, which he did not believe would be the case, to change their opinion concerning the right honourable gentleman, he should think it incumbent upon him, as one of their representatives, to alter his.14

He voted for Pitt's parliamentary reform proposals, 18 Apr. 1785, and with Administration on Richmond's fortification plan, 27 Feb. 1786.

Delaval, mentioned in the Rolliad, after obtaining a British peerage from Pitt in 1786, was the butt of an Opposition satire The Delavaliad.

He died 17 May 1808.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. H. Fox to Ld. Hartington, 26 Nov. 1754, Mems. James, Earl Waldegrave, 146-8.
  • 2. 30 Sept. 1755, HMC 11th Rep. VII, 76.
  • 3. E. Hughes, North Country Life in 18th Cent. 278, n. 1.
  • 4. To E. Stanley, Add. 32912, f. 61.
  • 5. Add. 32917, f. 404.
  • 6. Grenville Pprs. ii. 149.
  • 7. Grenville to Northumberland, 21 Nov. 1764, Grenville mss (JM).
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. To Newcastle, 22 July 1765, Add. 32968, f. 174.
  • 10. Sir John Delaval to Sir Francis Blake Delaval, 5 Aug. 1767, Delaval Pprs., Newcastle-upon-Tyne Lib.
  • 11. Mems. Geo. III, iv. 241.
  • 12. Debrett, v. 148; vi. 506; xii. 583; xiii. 63.
  • 13. Daniel Pulteney (q.v.) to the Duke of Rutland, HMC Rutland, iii. 97.
  • 14. Debrett, xvi. 94.