DURAND, John (?1719-88), of Woodcote Lodge, Carshalton, Surr.
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Family and Education
Sheriff, Surr. 1767-8; commr. of Greenwich Hospital 1781- d.; e. bro. of Trinity House 1775- d.; director, French Hospital 1769- d.
Durand served as a captain in the East India Company’s merchant service; returned to London with a ‘handsome fortune’ in or about 1762; and became a London merchant with premises at 51 Lime Street. He was also a partner in the firm of Durand and Nixon, Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe.
In 1767 he began to look round for a seat in Parliament. ‘What think you of Mr. Durand?’ wrote John Walsh to Lord Clive, 25 Nov. ‘He has had folly and impertinence enough to talk loudly about Worcester: he is now set out for Totnes.’1 He was not a serious candidate at either place, though he was said to have offered £4,000 for a borough seat before he went to Aylesbury. There he had ‘established himself’ strongly enough a few weeks before the election to discourage any opposition. On 23 Feb. 1768 Eyre Coote, who had thought of standing, wrote to Sir William Lee that Durand was ‘fully determined to get into the House at any rate, provided money can effect it’.2 His first recorded votes were with Opposition over Wilkes on 27 Jan. 1769, and again on 2 Feb., but the next day he voted with Administration on the expulsion of Wilkes, and continued to support them for the rest of the Parliament.
In 1769 he applied for a contract for victualling troops in the ceded West Indian islands, and in 1770 took it over from Anthony Bacon, his colleague at Aylesbury. In 1771 he obtained a contract for supplying the navy with masts, and during the American war received half a dozen other contracts in America and the West Indies.3
In 1774 Durand again stood at Aylesbury, but was defeated, and seems to have attempted to intervene at Honiton. In 1775 he was returned as a Government candidate on Lord Edgcumbe’s interest at Plympton. During this Parliament John Robinson in an undated letter to Sandwich complained that Durand was ‘remarkably slack’ and could not be depended on; but in 1780 he appears in the five extant division lists, each time voting with Administration.4 No provision seems to have been made by the Treasury for bringing Durand in again at the general election, and he had to shift for himself. He planned to oppose the Fane candidates at Lyme, but was warned that North would take such an intervention ‘extremely ill’.5 He was eventually returned on the Treasury interest for Seaford, in circumstances which have not been explained.6
Durand continued to vote with North till his fall, though Sandwich, two days before the division on Conway’s motion against the war, 27 Feb. 1782, told Robinson he would write to Durand—‘all the rest of my friends are so orthodox that any application from me seems superfluous’.7 He voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and was classed by Robinson, March 1783, as a follower of Sandwich. He did not vote on Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783, but was classed as ‘contra’ by Robinson in January 1784, and ‘absent’ by Stockdale. He did not stand again in 1784. There is no record of his having spoken during his fifteen years in Parliament. The English Chronicle, an Opposition newspaper, wrote of him in 1780: ‘No man understands the Multiplication Table with more comprehensiveness and precision of intelligence; but in the laws of his country, or in the duties of a legislator, there is perhaps no individual more completely ignorant.’
He died 30 July 1788, aged 69.8
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Mary M. Drummond
He does not appear in the Durand pedigrees in the French Hospital coll., Univ. Coll., London. There is a note by Wagner that he was unable to trace Durand’s background and parentage.
- 1. Clive mss.
- 2. Lee mss, Bucks. RO.
- 3. T29/40/72, 318; T29/41/55; T29/42/362, 442; T29/46/385; T29/48/399; T29/58/327; T29/61/369; T54/41/153, 480; T54/42/183-5, 475, 571; T54/43/435.
- 4. Geo. Jackson to Sandwich, n.d., Sandwich mss.
- 5. North to Robinson, 7 Sept. 1780, Abergavenny mss.
- 6. See SEAFORD constituency.
- 7. Abergavenny mss.
- 8. Manning Bray, Hist. Surr. ii. 547.