GARTH, John (1701-64), of Garth House, Devizes, Wilts.

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



26 Feb. 1740 - 24 Dec. 1764

Family and Education

b. 1701, 2nd s. of Thomas Garth of Harrold, Beds. (yr. bro. of Sir Samuel Garth, physician to George I and author of The Dispensary) by Elizabeth, da. of Thomas Colleton of Barbados. educ. Clare, Camb. 1719; L. Inn 1718; I. Temple 1727, called 1728. m. 1730, Rebecca, da. and coh. of John Brompton of Whitton, Mdx., 3s. 3da. suc. fa. 1731.

Offices Held

Recorder, Devizes 1732- d.


John Garth sat for Devizes on his own interest, and adhered in the House to the ‘old corps’ of Whigs. In 1756 he could speak of ‘fifteen years’ of ‘constant attendance and steady concurrence in support of the measures of Government in Parliament without any assistance or return’.1 Even that year, he bought for his second son George an army commission, which he might perhaps have obtained without payment had he applied to Henry Fox. But in a letter of 15 May 1755 he asked of Newcastle some employment for his son Charles ‘not incompatible with his profession, that may take him off my hands till he can shift for himself’. He received only promises.

In 1759 John Garth ‘had a stroke of palsy’ and was ‘not expected to recover’. He survived, but his illness produced prospective candidates for his seat in Parliament, foremost Thomas Fludyer, brother of Sir Samuel Fludyer, Bt., M.P. for Chippenham. Garth wrote to Newcastle, 30 June 1760:

The general election is approaching, and ... myself advancing to a time of life when a retreat from the hurry of business may neither be unpleasant, nor, considering the number of children I have to provide for, improper ... Many years are now past since I first presented a petition in behalf of my son, as many since I had the honour of all the assurances from your Grace on that score I could flatter myself with, as yet nothing is done for him. The expense of attendance in Parliament and supporting my seat therein against the intrigues of a faction has been very heavy to one circumstanced as I am.

Charles Garth wrote to Newcastle in December 1760: ‘notwithstanding Sir Samuel Fludyer’s opposition and interest with the clothiers, I canvassed for my father a majority of 26 voices to 8’; and in February 1762, that supporting their parliamentary interest at Devizes ‘has already been attended with no inconsiderable expense, at least £5,000 as my father has often assured me’.

It is not certain whether John Garth ever attended the Parliament of 1761: to Newcastle’s circular letter he replied on 20 Oct. that he was too ill to travel, and in Newcastle’s lists of December 1763 and February 1764 he is classed as ‘absent’; in those used by Bute and Grenville in December 1761 and November 1763 he is left unclassified; and his name appears in none of the division lists. But in July 1763 he applied to George Grenville to make his son Charles Crown agent for Georgia, and in the Administration list of the division on general warrants, 18 Feb. 1764, his name appears among ‘friends, absent’.  He died 24 Dec. 1764.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. For authorities, see Namier, ‘Charles Garth and his Connexions’, EHR, July and Oct. 1939.