NESBITT, John (?1745-1817), of Keston Park, Kent

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



1780 - 1790
1790 - 1796
1796 - 1802

Family and Education

b. ?1745, 2nd s. of Cosby Nesbitt of Lismore, co. Cavan, M.P. [I], by Anne, da. of John Enery of Bawnboy, co. Cavan. unm.  suc. uncle Arnold Nesbitt, 7 Apr. 1779.

Offices Held

Commr. for hackney coaches 1814- d.


John Nesbitt appears in 1778 as a partner in a bank in Dublin in which Arnold Nesbitt and George Colebrooke were concerned;1 in 1778 as London partner of his uncle Arnold, on whose death John inherited most of his fortune: the Winchelsea estates, land in Huntingdonshire, sugar plantations in Jamaica, and an estate in Grenada, but encumbered with debts of over £120,000, largely to the Crown.2 The victualling contract of his uncle was continued to him;3 and when Nesbitt intended to stand for Winchelsea at the general election of 1780, North asked the King to enable him to do so by a transfer of a pension his uncle had purchased: ‘he is likely to be a very good friend in the House of Commons’.4 In fact in the first division for which lists are available, on Lowther’s motion against the war, 12 Dec. 1781, Nesbitt voted with the Government; he was absent on 20 and 22 Feb. 1782; but on the 27th and on 15 Mar. voted against the Government: having become connected with the Prince of Wales, he henceforth counted as a Foxite. He voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783; but was absent from the divisions on Fox’s East India bill. In December 1783 Robinson thought that Nesbitt, who was ‘somewhat hampered and wishes to be with Administration’, might with attention ‘be got right again’. But Nesbitt remained with the Opposition, and on 31 Mar. 1784 George Rose wrote to Robinson: ‘Measures were taken for Winchelsea, but defeated by the people there deserting their own cause.’5 In the new Parliament Nesbitt voted with the Opposition over Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786, and the Regency, 1788-9. There is no record of his having spoken in the House 1780-90.

‘The manner of his life, and the society in which he lived, did not contribute to improve his circumstances in a financial point of view.’6 About 1789 an order was made in Chancery for the sale of his estates for the benefit of his creditors, but ‘a very short time before the promulgation of this fatal decree’, John Nesbitt sold his Winchelsea estate to Lord Darlington and Richard Barwell for £15,000.7  He died 15 Mar. 1817, aged 71.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Sir Lewis Namier


  • 1. Add. 32988, f. 402.
  • 2. C. A. Nesbitt, Hist. Fam. Nisbet or Nesbitt, 46.
  • 3. T29/48/439.
  • 4. Fortescue, v. 112.
  • 5. Laprade, 81-82, 120.
  • 6. C. A. Nesbitt, 46.
  • 7. Oldfield, Boroughs (1792), iii. 89.