JOLLIFFE, John (c.1697-1772), of Petersfield, Hants.

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



1741 - 1754
1761 - 1768

Family and Education

b. c.1697, 3rd s. of Benjamin Jolliffe of Cofton Hall, Worcs. by Mary, da. of John Jolliffe, London merchant, sis. of Sir William Jolliffe, M.P., Turkey merchant.  educ. Westminster; Univ. Coll. Oxf. 1712; M. Temple 1714; I. Temple 1720.  m. (1) 30 Mar. 1731, Catherine (d. 24 June 1731), da. and h. of Robert Michell of Petersfield, s.p.; (2) June 1744, Mary, da. and coh. of Samuel Holden, M.P., a leading Dissenter, gov. of the Bank of England and of the Russia Co., 3s. 1da.

Offices Held

Commr. for wine licences Dec. 1720-June 1741; receiver-gen. of the duchy of Lancaster Aug. 1738 for life, but resigned 1751.1


Jolliffe controlled both seats at Petersfield. The reasons for his not standing in 1754 and for returning William Beckford (and when Beckford made his election for the City of London, John Philipps) are not known—they could hardly have been financial: besides the fortune inherited from his first wife, he had received a share in Samuel Holden’s considerable estate, and also in that of his uncle Sir William Jolliffe. He was cut out of the will of his elder brother, Thomas, who died in 1757: this ‘alienation of Cofton and all the old family property’ was a disappointment to him but ‘chiefly of a sentimental character, for ... John was himself a wealthy man’.2

At the general election of 1761 Jolliffe intended to return himself and Beckford. On 31 Mar. Beckford wrote to him: ‘I must desire you will nominate me for a candidate for I am far from being secure for London. If the poll turns out very favourable this day, Mr. Pennant will be with you on the morrow by eight of the clock, and you will then be pleased to nominate him in my place’3—which was done on 1 Apr. Edward Gibbon, who had been persuaded to stand for Petersfield, withdrew before the poll.

Jolliffe did not receive Newcastle’s parliamentary whip in October 1761, and in Bute’s list of December is marked ‘Tory, Pitt’—presumably because of his connexion with Beckford and Philipps, and because nothing more was known about him. Although he does not appear in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries, in Newcastle’s list of 13 Nov. he is classed as a Government supporter. He was absent from the division on general warrants, 18 Feb. 1764, but was classed by Jenkinson as a friend; appears in the printed list of the minority voting against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766, but not in Newcastle’s lists; is classed by Rockingham in November 1766 as ‘Swiss’ (prepared to vote with every Administration); by Charles Townshend in January 1767 as ‘Grenville’; and by Newcastle in March 1767 as ‘Administration, doubtful’. He probably voted with the court over the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, and he was absent from the division on the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768. There is no record of his having spoken in the House.

In the few surviving papers of John Jolliffe4 is a letter from Lord Holland, 4 July 1767, trying to arrange a meeting between him and Welbore Ellis (whom Jolliffe returned for Petersfield in 1768); and when on the death of Sir Ellis Cunliffe, 16 Oct. 1767, Pennant vacated his seat to stand for Liverpool, Holland wrote, 4 Nov., recommending George Macartney to Jolliffe: ‘Be so kind as to draw on Mr. Powell [Holland’s man at the pay office] for what you choose should be the expense of it.’ And Macartney, enclosing this letter on 11 Nov.: ‘Mr. Pennant ... wishes me extremely well ... And the Duke of Grafton has assured me that he interests himself much in my success.’ But having kissed hands as ambassador to Russia, 20 Nov., Macartney wrote to Jolliffe countermanding his candidature: ‘I have wrote to Mr. Pennant by the Duke of Grafton’s desire to inform him of this change in my situation and to tell him that his Grace would take it as a favour if he would be so good as to recommend Mr. Croftes to you for the seat at Petersfield’; and he added that Holland will be ‘infinitely indebted’ for it. The origin of Jolliffe’s connexion with Holland is again unknown.

Jolliffe did not stand in 1768, but returned his son William and Welbore Ellis. When William married, 28 Aug. 1769, his father made over to him the Petersfield estate reserving to himself the nomination of one Member for his life.5

John Jolliffe died 31 Jan. 1771.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. H. G. H. Jolliffe, Jolliffes of Staffs. 45.
  • 2. Ibid. 47.
  • 3. Jolliffe mss, in the possession of Lord Hylton.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Jolliffe, 45-46.